An email conversation with Trevor Sinclair: 'I didn't have a Plan B. If I hadn't made it, I'd have struggled'

Joining push for Premier League place; Relishing life as a senior professional; Watching sons learn a rare bit of Welsh
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The Independent Online

After a decade in the Premiership you are now with Cardiff City in the Championship. Has it been a difficult transition? No, I've really enjoyed it. The fans seem to have taken to me and I believe we'll be right in the race for promotion come May. It's obviously a bit different to the Premiership – the pace, quality and footballing brains are not quite as sharp. But there's not that much difference.

Why did you choose Cardiff? [The manager] Dave Jones was the main reason. I wasn't that keen to move from the North-west, with my boys in school and whatnot. Within a few hours of meeting Dave I was totally impressed. The ambition, the chairman and club really excited me.

How would you class your four seasons as Manchester City? It was the least successful I've been at any club and that was gutting, as City was my club as a boy. There were highlights – wins over United and qualifying for the Uefa Cup – but it never quite hit the heights. It was not just me, it was the club as well. We had a great squad but we didn't get anywhere near where we should have done.

Do you still support City? Yeah, and I've been keeping an eye on how they've been doing, especially the young lads. I've always had time for Sven [Goran Eriksson] and think it's a real boost for City to get him – for the profile of the club and all the big names they'll be able to entice. I feel a debt of gratitude to Sven. He gave me my first cap and the following 11. He's a gentleman, a football scholar. He might not rant and rave like some fans want him to, but he has a very effective way of getting his opinion and tactics across.

What do you make of England now? They've come through a difficult time. It was just getting the right pieces in the right places. It would be terrible if they didn't qualify [for Euro 2008]. But I'm sure they will.

Your old England and City team-mate, Robbie Fowler, joined Cardiff after you. Did you have any part in that? I did speak to him a number of times. I told him how I was getting on, how it was a great atmosphere, with a great set of lads and a manager with a good work ethic and a strong sense of ambition. Like me, I think he just fancied the challenge.

What do you say to cynics who mutter about players dropping down the leagues for a last payday? I can only speak for myself. I'm only playing football because I love it. The thought of spending the rest of my life without playing, without competing, without training? I don't like thinking about it. I've been blessed over the last 18 years and I don't want to lose it: not just because I feel a bit tired, or that I'm finding things a bit more difficult than I used to.

You moved your family to south Wales. A difficult choice? I said to the manager that I wasn't going to come down, spend two or three days in a hotel and travel 200 miles back to Cheshire twice a week. That's a recipe for disaster. My boys were settled and it was tough to take them out of school. Believe me, I didn't take this challenge lightly.

Cardiff's chairman, Peter Ridsdale, has had his critics. How have you found him? A genuine football man. I know there were a lot of things said at Leeds, but I have no idea what went on, as I wasn't involved. I've met him over the last few months and he's been different class. He's trying to give south Wales the club it deserves – a club in the Premier League.

Do you subscribe to the "sleeping giant" stuff? I know it's a cliché, but it's true. The fans are so passionate. Fingers crossed, we can make it a reality.

This is your 18th year as a pro; what are the chances of completing 20? I'm very confident, especially as I have a manager who realises he has a player with a history of injuries and that sometimes I just have to lay off the contact training.

What is the secret to playing for so long? The love of the game. At school, teachers used to grab me and say there was more to life that just football. To me, there wasn't. I didn't have a Plan B and if I didn't make it I was going to struggle. I owe it so much.

Do you fancy coaching? I used to turn my nose up when people mentioned that. But, as I get older and understand the game more, I do think about it a little bit. Watch this space.

It is 10 years since you scored a famous overhead goal for QPR against Barnsley. Do you still think of it much? A few of the lads have been giving me grief about it. They say, "I can't believe you're still on about that goal after 10 years." I try to recreate it in training and they have a chuckle. But as your back gets stiffer and you get older it's not so easy. I know it's a popular clip on YouTube, and people still ask me about it. It's nice to be remembered.

Have you learnt any Welsh? Not a sentence. But my boys have been learning it for a few weeks and have come back with a few bits and pieces. You never know – they might let on what it all means some day.

Trevor Sinclair answered our questions as part of the launch of the " Coca-Cola Talent from Trash" initiative, innovative programme that rewards Football League clubs and their fans for pledging to recycle more and raising household waste recycling levels in their communities. For more details please visit www.talent-from-trash.co.uk

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Trevor Sinclair

* Born Dulwich, 2 March 1973

* Played for Blackpool (1989-93) Queen's Park Rangers (1993-98) West Ham United (1998-2003) Manchester City (2003-07)

* Scored BBC Match of the Day goal of the season in 1997 with overhead scissor-kick for QPR in the FA Cup against Barnsley.

* At Manchester City, played on the left wing, his position for England in the 2002 World Cup. Departure of Shaun Wright-Phillips presented opportunity to play on the right. Released by City at the end of the 2006-07 season, he joined Cardiff City.

* Won 12 caps for England, four in the 2002 World Cup, when he was a last-minute replacement for the injured Danny Murphy. He then replaced Owen Hargreaves, who was injured early in the competition, in the first XI and was regarded as one of England's best players in the tournament.

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