Matt Jarvis: 'Our tackling has been blown out of proportion'

Matt Jarvis, who aims to fuel his England cause at Chelsea today, tells Sam Wallace Wolves are not dirty, just misunderstood

There are not many English players at clubs in the bottom half of the Premier League who can convince Fabio Capello to venture away from his favourite weekend haunts of Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, Anfield and Villa Park but then Matt Jarvis is a different kind of talent altogether.

The 24-year-old Wolverhampton Wanderers winger has caught the eye of the England manager and his Italian staff, to the extent that he was on the long list of players for Capello's squad to play the first two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland. Since then Capello has even graced Molineux with his presence and saw Jarvis score Wolves' goal in a 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa on 26 September.

Today, Jarvis is in a Wolves team that face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a run of games that would bring even the most confident Old Gold fan out in a cold sweat: the sequence is Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League and a Carling Cup game next week against United. It will be a tough month for a team already 18th in the table but Jarvis is enjoying every minute.

He is that rare thing, an English footballer in the Premier League who has made his way up the divisions starting at Gillingham seven years ago as a 17-year-old. "I can still remember my first start away at Preston," Jarvis says. "Just before kick-off there was a load of balloons on the pitch. The ref said to me 'Could you just pop that one next to you?' So I went to stamp on it and it blew away. The crowd all cheered. I thought: 'That's a good start to my career'."

It was Jarvis who scored Wolves' goal against West Ham that earned them a 1-1 draw on Saturday. He plays on the left but is naturally right-footed, one of those qualities, along with his pace, that will have brought him to the attention of Capello. Jarvis will have another chance to impress today in front of Capello's general manager Franco Baldini, who will be at Stamford Bridge, but – without a win since the start of the season – there are greater priorities for the side at the moment. Since Danny Murphy's outspoken criticism of Wolves' approach to games – and Karl Henry's controversial challenges on Bobby Zamora and Jordi Gomez – there has been a focus on them that the club are unaccustomed to. But they have also played some decent football despite their position and Jarvis, bought from Gillingham in 2007, has been one of the club's success stories.

On the tackling debate, Jarvis says that the issue "has been blown out of proportion. It was after the Newcastle game [on 28 August] and there were a number of players who got booked [12, seven from Wolves]. A lot has been made of it. A lot of tackles were there to be won and I don't think anyone would class any of them intent or foul play.

"If you see the game against West Ham last weekend everyone was saying how well we played and what a good game of football it was. There were no reckless challenges. There were no yellow cards [for Wolves]. It was one of those things, a spur of the moment thing and everyone has been jumping on the bandwagon. Once you get labelled with it, it is hard to shake off and that is what has happened."

Jarvis says that as a creative player himself he has never had reason to be concerned by the approach of his Wolves team-mates or Henry in particular. "Although it wasn't a great challenge against Wigan [on Gomez] because of what happened before it has been made even worse and he is not that sort of player. You see him last season and the start of this season and he has not been like that at all. He gets into challenges and breaks play up but he's not a dirty player at all.

"It is noticeable now that even if it is a normal challenge [from a Wolves player] it has been blown up. After the performance against West Ham when there were no ridiculous tackles going in and no stupid yellow cards I think hopefully it will calm down. It was big this month and something else will be big next month."

As we sit in one of the annexes at Wolves' training ground, every one of Jarvis's team-mates who wanders by affects a groan when they recognise that the club's new golden boy is the interview subject. "Ask him about the ping-pong," shouts one of the fitness coaches. "Or the cross-country. Or the swimming."

As a teenager growing up in Guildford in Surrey, Jarvis was of those kids who excelled at just about everything. He got the sporting gene from his parents, Nick and Linda, who both reached the English No 1 rankings in table tennis. Linda won the European mixed doubles title with Desmond Douglas and between them they encouraged Matt and his brother Ben, who were both at Millwall as teenagers, to do as much sport as possible.

As a result Jarvis was Surrey breaststroke champion for four years running. He was also the county's cross-country champion and represented the country in European championships. He won county titles in the 800m and 1,500m. "I never used to do the sprints," he said. "I don't know why for the life of me, it would have been so much better." He competed in biathlons. He was not bad at table tennis either.

"Monday was swimming. Tuesday was football and if I got back in time, swimming again. Wednesday was athletics or cross country. Thursdays was football and swimming. Friday was swimming. Saturday was football then swimming. And then on Sunday it depended if I had played on Saturday for the [Millwall] Under-17s or Under-19s. If I had played then I would have swimming on Saturday night. If I didn't play all of the Saturday game I would play in my own age group on the Sunday. And then swimming again on Sunday night.

"Every weekend was someone's birthday and there would be a party on the Saturday night. I would turn up late just stinking of chlorine having come straight from the swimming gala. I wouldn't have swapped it for anything. I loved it. Enjoyed every minute. I loved the competing and I don't feel I have missed out on anything. I used to go out with my mates whenever I could. If they went out drinking I would drive."

It was an exhausting schedule yet along the way he somehow managed to get one A, four Bs and five C grades at GCSE. He was rejected by Millwall as a 16-year-old but immediately picked up by Gillingham where the manager at the time, Andy Hessenthaler, proved a big influence. He was signed by Wolves three years ago and won promotion to the Premier League in his second season. The new five-year deal he signed at the start of the season is testament to the value the club place in him.

Jarvis cites his parents as a major influence. As well as endlessly driving him from one sporting event to the next, he also learned to play sport for the sheer love of it. Even as elite table-tennis players there is not much of a living playing the game but Jarvis says his father Nick taught him from an early age that the money was not the priority.

"My dad has always said you concentrate on working hard and playing well and don't worry about the money. If you are good enough the money will come. I have worked all the way through from Millwall, Gillingham to Wolves and I am trying to learn and work hard now.

"My dad had to retire at a younger age and I have never seen them play live. I have seen my dad play just knocking around but I have only seen one video of him in a game and a few newspaper clippings. There is no footage of my mum. Table tennis wasn't even in the Olympics back then."

It promises to be a tough four weeks for Wolves against the biggest clubs in the division. But then these games against the best offer an opportunity to a promising young player. "If you are not in the top bracket it is hard to get noticed [by England]," Jarvis says. "We have a great squad and if you play well against one of the big teams then you maybe get noticed more.

"It is everyone's dream to play for their country and it would be absolutely fantastic but I don't want to tempt fate. The people [who play] in my position are all young. There are a lot of players who might think about it after this tournament [Euro 2012] when it will be a whole new up-and-coming team, which will be exciting."

For now it is enough, Jarvis says, to be playing every week for Wolves. They have the experience of one season in the Premier League to guard against being intimidated by the opposition over the next few weeks. And for their man of the moment the next few weeks present quite an opportunity.

My other life

I suppose I watch a lot of telly. I love the The Inbetweeners but they are half-an-hour episodes and they go so quick. I am into all the series: House, Fringe, Bones, Entourage, The Mentalist.

News
In this photo illustration, the Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device as the company announced its initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London, England. Twitter went public on the NYSE opening at USD 26 per share, valuing the company's worth at an estimated USD 18 billion.
news

Arts and Entertainment
Australia singer Iggy Azalea has been attacked by Eminem in a new rap
music

Singer was ordered not to 'blow her rape whistle' in song 'Vegas'

News
news

Arts and Entertainment
'Africa' will be Angelina Jolie's fifth film as a director
film

Mr and Mrs Smith star admits she's 'never been comfortable on-screen'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Myleene Klass
people
Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
News
Ashton Kutcher speaking at Human Rights Watch's Voices For Justice dinner in November 2013
people'What is so wrong about digging up dirt on shady journalist?'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as John Watson and Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock
tv

Co-creator Mark Gatiss dropped some very intriguing hints ahead of the BBC drama's return next year

Life and Style
Jane Merrick rides on a Micro Scooter through St James's Park, on November 18, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.
life
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was driven to a miserable death. His story is to be told in film
Sport
Qatar has very little football history

It is a crazy place to play in summer, writes Paul Scholes

Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
News
Actor Dave Prowse in his role as the Green Cross Code Man in 1982
peopleStar Wars actor to reprise his other role - as the Green Cross Man
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Brit Marling as PR woman Liz Garvey
tv

It was all about Liz’s cocaine-fuelled brainwave, 'The Metwork'

Voices
The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad and Russia’s deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov flank Fifa president Sepp Blatter
voices
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines