Graham's Blog

Charlie Adam: The Will to Win

Last season, our Socios at patreon.com/grahamhunter got an exclusive interview with Charlie Adam. For the first time, here’s the full episode.

Charlie was brought up on a Dundee housing estate where he honed his skills by kicking a ball relentlessly at bin recesses and between washing poles. Charlie speaks about the early influence of his beloved late father, who taught him a work ethic and a relentless will to win. It all paid off because Rangers came calling.

As an Ibrox youth he champed at the bit, trying outrageous stuff on the training field or sneaking in to watch the first team prepare. He was always watching, learning, visualising, plotting. To this day he is able to vividly describe his artistry in detail, how he precisely strikes the ball. For example, he relates how on earth he managed to score a goal for Stoke City at Chelsea from inside his own half.

Part two coming soon.

Graham

Jamie Carragher: There’s Something About Xavi

Jamie Carragher never enjoyed international tournaments and wonders if England puts too much into its club game – which is a matter life and death – instead of valuing national side’s endeavours more.

Also in part two, he describes the 1999 Champions League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich, and argues that David Beckham’s performance that night – and his talents in general – are undersold.

We chat about Liverpool’s incredible 4-0 trouncing of Barcelona last year in the Champions League semi. Jamie says that Jurgen Klopp makes players believe that they can do anything.

Lastly we talk about Xavi, the player Jamie most admires because he had such a quick footballing brain. He took charge of a game and told others what to do.

Thanks Jamie, that was sheer class.

Graham

Jamie Carragher: The Greatest Games

Jamie Carragher’s new book The Greatest Games documents the best matches he has experienced as a player and as a spectator. He played in a few crackers, not least the 2005 ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ when Liverpool came back from the dead against AC Milan in the Champions League final.

As a pundit, Jamie employs the same exacting standards he applied to his long and auspicious career as an Anfield defender. He has to, because supporters are incredibly well informed and analytically astute these days. And Jamie wants to ask why a manager makes a decision rather than just lobbing criticism.

We chat about Jamie’s time playing for England under Sven-Göran Eriksson. Sven picked the safest options and didn’t impart anything new. His coaching was very basic. Yet British players are too loath to criticise. Former Liverpool coach Pepe Reina once told Jamie and Steven Gerrard that he was surprised that they and other senior pros were so humble and silent.

Enjoy

Graham

Zinedine Zidane: Big Interview Icon

Welcome to our Big Interview Icons series where we shine a light on a legend whose name has lit up some of the conversations I’ve had with my guests over the last six years of The Big Interview. This episode focuses on Zinedine Zidane.

Former Bayern Munich and Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves talks about what struck him most when he first played against his hero: he was very quiet, and a tackle with him was like colliding with a brick wall.

Jimmy Bullard admired Zidane so much that he even wore his boots and shorts like him. In fact, on one occasion the tightness of his shorts was such that it impeded him from scoring an easy goal for Wigan!

Next up is Steve McManaman, who speaks about how Zizou endured a frustrating start at Real Madrid. Then came the 2002 Champions League final win over Bayer Leverkusen, and nobody doubted the great man after it.

Lastly we hear from former Real president Ramón Calderón, who says how promoting Zinedine from the position of reserve team coach to the biggest role in club football management was a risk that paid off.

Enjoy.

Graham

Classic Big Interview: Terry Gibson

Here’s another chance to hear my interview with Terry Gibson from season three.

I know Terry well from covering Spanish football over the years, and I find him to be one of the most engaging, funny and astute analysts of the game.

He recounts honestly what it felt like to depart Tottenham, the club he has always loved and who he felt had treated him shabbily. There’s great stuff about his only career hat-trick – for Coventry against the mighty Liverpool, and just how lax Ron Atkinson’s regime was at Manchester United. Alex Ferguson was the new broom and Terry and Fergie soon fell out. Terry withdrew his initial threat to quit football, telling the great manager: I’ll be back to score against you and to win a trophy. He made good on both promises, and the second one was fulfilled when Wimbledon lifted the 1988 FA Cup.

Take it away, Terry.

Graham