Crunching tackle that gave The Legend his big break

No crib for a... sausage roll

ZELLA COMPTON: A 21st century curse – how does a family manage the TV recorder?

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Regrets, I’ve had a few. But one I’d forgotten all about was my promising football career.

My regret only came about after a chance meeting last week.

Growing up at Ryde in the Isle of Wight and being a Pompey fan from a very early age, goalkeepers Peter Mellor and Alan Knight were my heroes. Along with the Ipswich Town ’keeper Paul Cooper; random I know, but he was different because he wore a red top.

I played for a local team called Binstead. We won our league and I’d kept record amounts of clean sheets. Yes I was only 10, but things were looking good for me.

Like thousands of other kids I used to dream of playing for England and lining up with the likes of Bryan Robson and Glenn Hoddle.

Back to reality.

My mum bumps into my old football coach.

‘How is Richard?’ he asks.

Mum reels off the story of my radio career.

He replies: ‘Shame he gave up football, he could have made it you know.’

It turns out I was the most promising goalkeeper for years on the island back in the early 1980s.

I represented the island and he said that mainland scouts from Pompey, Saints and Bournemouth had an eye on me.

Then came the tackle that changed everything. As I slid in to claim the ball from an approaching striker, he left his boot in.

Although my voice had yet to break, I think it rose by a couple of octaves. My confidence was shot.

My passion soon faded at the same rate as the bruising on my crown jewels and I decided, at 13, to retire from the game and spot buses instead. Buses are far warmer than muddy parks in January.

But hang on a minute. Let’s just say that tackle on my tackle had not materialised, could I have gone on to play for Pompey? Could I have replaced Alan Knight? Maybe he would never have made 801 appearances if that tackle had not happened?

We will never know. Alan has a lot to thank Shane Lambert (then aged 13) for.

I, on the other hand, will just have to dream as to what might have been.