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The Ben Thatcher Interview - part two

Posted on 5 May 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

The second instalment of our exclusive interview with Player of the Month for March Ben Thatcher, where the uncompromising defender offers his thoughts on staying positive while out of the team, the wing-back position and maturing as a person...

EVEN DURING THE most difficult of times since arriving at the club, Ben Thatcher has not been one to mope around or moan about his predicament.

Players can naturally get depressed when injury strikes, and Ben has endured his fair share since signing on from Wimbledon, but not being in the frame after recovery is often a harder cross to to bear.

Ben was on the sidelines and playing reserve team football for much of this season, while never appearing anything but cheerful and positive as he went about his work at the training ground.

He insists there is no value in being anything other.

"I think it's very hard if you're going to be like that at a club like this," he states. "You look around and there's internationals everywhere and better players than you here.

"You've got people at 35-36 playing like teenagers so you just have to bide your time, make sure your fitness is there and stay sharp.

"Obviously you're going to get little niggles and injuries that are not going to help you in training, but you've just got to make sure you are as ready as you can be when you get the chance. When you do, make sure you do well and it's hard to get dropped after that."

Ben did his time this season in Colin Calderwood's reserve side and word went round that he had coined a new name from the younger element of the team - 'Uncle Ben'.

"I don't know about that! But, obviously, I get on great with Colin Calderwood. I've got no problem playing in the reserves, it's there for a purpose - to keep your fitness up. The pitch isn't too bad down at Stevenage and if you're not in the first team it's a game. That's what you want to do, play football."

The Swindon-born defender says he was quite optimistic on hearing of Glenn's second coming at the club - even given the boss' well known preference for the wing-back system. His optimism was based on his ability to feature on the left of a defensive three.

"I played in the England under-21s for Glenn when he was England manager under Peter Taylor and I played on the left of a three there. Obviously I don't know if he remembers, but I did okay in those games.

"So I was quite optimistic. I got on great with George, but had to play left wing-back. Now you've got Matty Etherington coming through, Christian Ziege, Stephen Clemence can do a job there so there is a lot more people there for that sort of role.

"It just didn't suit my game and I didn't enjoy it.

"I like playing on the left of a three, to be honest, but left-back is my out-and-out position. We've been playing with a four quite a lot recently and it's coincided with the half-decent run that I've had.

"You know what you're doing, you know the role inside-out and it just helps really, if you're not playing in a foreign position."

Ben hopes that his recent form might just plant him in Glenn's mind when the boss comes to planning his personnel for the next campaign - he certainly wants to be part of it.

"That's all you can do to be honest. I've got three years left here and it would be fantastic to be a part of the club for the future.

"The club is very, very impressive. From the people who work here to the stadium, the lads are great and there's not one I don't get on with. It's just a fantastic club.

"It's a dream to play here and the longer I can stay here the happier I'll be.

"If this run means the gaffer might think of playing me as part of a four or a three, he hasn't got to go and buy anyone for the left hand side - and hopefully he doesn't."

Nowadays, Ben is not so much a man about town as the settled family man - and even uses distance to travel as an excuse to avoid a night out!

"I've got a little girl called Libby May and another one on the way in September. It just slows you down a bit to be honest - I'm getting too old for the going out and all that...

"I live out in Surrey so socialising with the lads is a bit harder and quite a good excuse sometimes! Team spirit is good to be honest."

This doesn't sound like the player that even one Wimbledon player diplomatically described a few years ago as a typical 'Millwall boy'.

"It was different at the Crazy Gang. You could get away with a lot more and there was more of the lads doing a lot more things.

"It's more professional here and you've got to grow up. Everyone grows up in the end, you get to 24-25 and get bored of it. My priority now is my family and children - other things go out of the window I'm afraid."

By Richard Hubbard