Secret diary of a nomad searching for latest club

Rohan Ricketts' blog is a must-read as he plies his trade at far-flung outposts

The Independent, 15 April 2003: "Two of the most promising players educated by [Arsenal's] Liam Brady and Don Howe, Rohan Ricketts and David Noble, are hoping to break through at Tottenham and West Ham."

Some seven and a half years later, the same Rohan Ricketts is drinking peppermint tea in a cafe on Clapham High Street, recalling how short-lived that breakthrough at Tottenham was and waiting for confirmation that a career on football's road less travelled is about to take him to Germany, after Moldova, Hungary and Canada, via Wolverhampton, Coventry and Barnsley. The tale is a reminder that there is more to the life of a professional footballer than fast bucks, fast cars and faster women and is reflected in a regular blog on the Sabotage Times website that has earned him a reputation as a cult figure for its frankness on topics like "what players really think of supporters" and "being a player can ruin your love of football".

Coincidentally, he happens to mention towards the end of our conversation the name of Noble, as an illustration of his belief that English football is obsessed with the athletic and powerful rather than the technically proficient. "David Noble was an outstanding talent, a Spanish-style player who could have played for England. He went to West Ham, then couldn't get a team anywhere, he had to go to Boston United when they were bottom of League Two." Noble eventually moved a couple of rungs back up the ladder to Bristol City and is now at Exeter. It was never the sort of route that appealed to Ricketts, a central midfielder who styles himself a "purist" and cannot see himself battling away in the lower divisions.

The one manager in England who seems to have believed in him was a kindred spirit, Glenn Hoddle, who picked him for the first six games of the 2003-04 season for Spurs, before being sacked, then took him to Wolves. "You need that, someone to believe in you. I heard about one Premier League manager recently calling me 'a bad egg'. If he says that in front of two or three others, word spreads and what chance have you got? David Pleat [Hoddle's temporary successor] wasn't fond of me and Jacques Santini came in, which wasn't good for me, he was really defensive."

A new life in Toronto appealed and Ricketts spent an enjoyable 2008-09 season there in Major League Soccer until the manager left and the budget was cut, leaving him at the mercy of agents who may or may not have had his best interests at heart. "It's like a girl having a new boyfriend," is his analogy, "not sure if this guy's on the level, totally loyal. Agents love to talk and I've seen some of the things they've done to players. I spoke to a couple of agents and one of them said I was going to Turkey, so I turned down trials in Poland and Israel. Then at the last moment they said they couldn't do it. So then you're relying on another guy to move you. They're scratching around, they said Moldova.It was one of the worst things I ever did."

He joined Dacia Chisinau inAugust, went eight weeks without being paid and returned to England last month. Now, after German agents organised a trial in Bavaria, he is optimistic about joining small Bundesliga second division club Ingolstadt following the winter break. In the meantime, he is expanding his media activities. There is motivational speaking, and publication this week of an e-book offering advice to parents of aspiring footballers, which will reflect his own self-belief and determination from earliest days in south London: "Brought up round here, Clapham, Stockwell, Brixton, you're susceptible to many bad things. I saw friends that did drugs, passed away, got killed, went to jail. But I always had this inner belief that I'd be something. I like to read motivational books, that make me analyse myself and see where I'm going wrong."

His 28th birthday this Wednesday, followed by the ending of an eventful year (there was one match for a Hungarian club along the way) will be a time for further reflection, in which he insists football will have primacy. "2011 has got to be a big year for me. I just want to be playing consistently, whether in mainland Europe, the United States, and having stability. I've been training and working hard. The other stuff, the media work, is secondary. People see me and say 'aren't you playing any more?' And I say: 'I want to but people are messing me around.' I don't want to be sitting here, I just want to be playing."

Suggested Topics
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home