Interview: Wayne Routledge

Image: Clive Rose/Getty

Wayne Routledge has had a good career but I doubt that many people outside of Fulham will remember that he spent a season on loan with the Whites in 2006/07. Daniel Smith caught up with Routledge to find out how the winger felt about his Fulham experience…

DS – How did you get your first opportunity in football and did you start out as a winger?

WR – I got my first real start playing for my school and then Croydon borough, where I was scouted by a man named Clary Birch. He took me to Palace and it went on from there. I played as a striker but I think my height dictated that being a winger was more appropriate!

DS – How did the opportunity to join Fulham on loan present itself?

WR – Injury had stalled my career at Spurs and I wanted to play. It was a good switch for me and a good club to play football for. I was grateful that Chris Coleman gave me the opportunity to do that. 

DS – Was there talk of it becoming a permanent transfer, if yes, why did the move not materialise?

Yes I did want to make it permanent and I thought it was going to happen until unfortunately Cookie lost his job. Lawrie Sanchez told me I didn’t fit into his plans so I was in limbo once again.

DS – Was it an awkward situation making your debut off the bench by replacing Jimmy Bullard after his leg break up at Newcastle?

WR – It was a bit surreal and intense. I remember losing Bully and felt for him. However, coming back to win it at the end was a great way to start my time at Fulham.

DS – Your only goal for the club was a fantastic solo run to win us the FA Cup tie against Leicester City in stoppage time. Do you remember the goal?

WR – Yeah it was a good goal, I recall that we didn’t want to draw the game and go into extra time. I just remember picking the ball up and going into the space in front of me and before I knew it I was in front of goal, the rest is history!

DS – Who did you get on the best with during your time at the club?

WK – Zat Knight!!! I still speak to Zat now, he really helped me when I got there as my confidence wasn’t where it needed to be, and also off the pitch too. But they were a really good bunch of team mates. Liam Rosenior was funny, Browny was a good guy, Bully was Bully! Not forgetting Garry Gray, the kit man too!

DS – What was your relationship like with Chris Coleman?

WR – I had a good relationship with him, and I think he is a great man manager who knows what to say to motivate you. He had played with many of the boys and was very respected. Sometimes as a manager you just need a little luck and time which isn’t always given.

DS – How would you describe your Fulham experience?

WR – I enjoyed it immensely, it was a great time to go and play with  established Premier League players and to find myself again.

The fans were great, the stadium is pretty unique and the staff were all brilliant with me too.

DS – Not long after leaving Fulham, you dropped down a division to sign for QPR in the Championship. Did you think your chances of making it back to the top were slim? 

WR – At the time that wasn’t in my thoughts, I had gone so long without playing continuously at a settled club and Qpr offered me the chance to do that and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.

DS – What was it like winning the League Cup with Swansea City?

WR – That was a proud day for me, to play in a final at Wembley was amazing. Even though I was extremely ill the whole week building up to it and was shivering throughout the game (thank God for adrenaline!).

We were favourites but also had everything to lose, as Bradford City were a League Two team,”surely they couldn’t win at Wembley?”, was all we heard. But in fairness we prepared well and started the game how we played all season, dominating the ball, patient build up play and being very clinical too.

DS – You’ve played under a number of managers/coaches. Who has helped you develop your game the most?

WR – Good question, I look back and think Iain Dowie gave me my work ethic and Brendan Rodgers made me love the game again. But Michael Laudrup let me play football without rules, and that’s where I think I played my best football and obviously won the League Cup.           

DS – You’ve had 4 loan spells during your career, from your experience how difficult is it to settle into a new setup knowing it’s only a short term move?

WR – Loans are extremely difficult for many reasons. Obviously it’s only a short spell & it can be pretty lonely especially when you’re young. It’s easy to do the wrong things on and off the pitch.

DS – Do you intend to stay in football when you hang up your boots or do you have other ambitions after retirement?

WR – I’m not sure what the future holds when I finish my playing career but as long as my family and I are happy, I can be satisfied with what I have achieved. If I can help others with advice I maybe would do that but we’ll see.

DS – And finally Wayne, we ask everyone this. Pie or pasty, which filling?

WR – Ermmmmm not really a pie man! I’d prefer a dumpling from the Caribbean food shop haha.