In the latest instalment of the Fulham Focus Q&A series, Dannyboi was joined by the recently retired Steve Sidwell to talk about his time at the club. The ‘Ginger Iniesta’ played 113 games for the Whites before the reign of Felix brought his tenure to an end following relegation to the Championship. A season that saw him finish as captain and top scorer!
DB – How did you get your first opportunity in football and which position did you play in originally?
SS – I first started playing as a 5-year-old in a Saturday league in Mitcham. I’ve always played in centre midfield.
DB – You began your career at Arsenal, did you have anyone at the club that you looked up to and/or any role models in the game in general?
SS – I was at Arsenal from the age of 9 – 20, so I saw lots of players come and go. Ian Wright was and is my hero, loved his character. But Patrick Vieira was someone I looked up to as he was playing in my position. I studied his game so closely.
DB – How did the move to Fulham materialise and why did you choose to join?
SS – I was literally having a medical at Wolves and Mark Hughes called during it. I drove straight down the motorway and signed with no hesitation. It was back home to London and my family, so I was desperate to come.
DB – What was your relationship like with Mark Hughes & Martin Jol respectively?
SS – I got on well with both managers. They knew they could trust me out on the pitch and to lead by example. I feel I played well under both and repaid the faith they showed in me with my performances.
DB – You are famously known as the ginger twin of Andres Iniesta. What did you think of your nickname?
SS – The Iniesta song does make me laugh. I loved hearing the crowd sing it but it was a tad embarrassing as I couldn’t lace up his boots, he’s that good!
DB – You scored 17 goals for Fulham, do you have a favourite?
SS – Obviously the Palace volley was decent but my first goal for the club against Liverpool was my favourite.
DB – You mentioned the volley at Selhurst Park, do you feel shortchanged having scored a goal of that quality, that nobody mentions it because of the wonder strike from Kasami?
SS – The Kasami goal is the best goal I’ve ever seen!! When he scored it, I said to myself “how the f***s he done that?!”
DB – What was your favourite match for Fulham?
SS – QPR at home… 6-0!
DB – What was going through your mind when you received a second straight red in 2 games? They were almost identical tackles against QPR & Arsenal.
SS – I thought to myself “I’m f****d here!!!” I received a two-and-half-week-wage fine which was a killer too. Jol didn’t need to say anything, the fine said it all.
DB – Who were your closest mates at the club and do you keep in touch with anyone?
SS – Bobby Zamora was my closest pal before I came to the club, during and still to is to this day, so to play with him again was brilliant. Still speak to Duffer, Brede, Stocko, Murph, Johnny Greening, and some of the staff too.
DB – Three managers in 2013/14… was it hard adjusting to the constant changes?
SS – Three managers in a season is always tough but I still say if Martin Jol had stayed we would have stayed up… just.
DB – A few supporters felt that the balance wasn’t quite right in the middle of the park when Scott Parker and yourself played alongside each other, not too different from the Lampard/Gerrard scenario with England. Did you feel there was something missing, if so, can you put your finger on it?
SS – That’s b******s, we worked well together and got the best out of players around us, even if we had an off day. I really enjoyed playing with Scott alongside me, not many players got past us!
DB – How did you find Felix Magath?
SS – Least said about it the better, but as soon as he walked through the door we were doomed!
DB – At Stoke away, it felt like only a handful of players including yourself genuinely cared that we had been relegated. What was the atmosphere like in the dressing room after the game?
SS – Obviously the dressing room was very quiet. But the table doesn’t lie and there weren’t too many that could look at themselves and say they gave everything throughout the season.
DB – Was it difficult to leave Fulham?
SS – I was gutted to leave Fulham, I never wanted to leave. Me and my family loved being there and unfortunately politics got involved and a move away materialised. But I was desperate to stay and play for the club.
DB – Who was the best player during your time at the club?
SS – Moussa Dembele by a mile. What a player! I remember my first training session with him and thinking “who’s this fella?!” He made the game look so easy and he was also a classy person off the field too which helps.
DB – How did Fulham compare to your other clubs?
SS – I probably enjoyed my time at Fulham more than any other club in my career. I felt the complete player during my time and what a place Craven Cottage is to go to work at!
DB – My Mrs is in love with you which puts me in a precarious position! So, I owe it to you for the years of banter from her telling me that she wants her ‘Siddy’ to re-sign for the club! Cheers for that.
SS – Can’t blame your wife, she is only human but apologies anyhow! I would come back in a heartbeat! Not just because of her but she can be another reason too!
DB – Finally Steve, pie or pasty, which filling?
SS – Steak pie all day long.