The Big Interview: Chris Kamara Exclusive - Part one
Published: 27 Aug 2010 - 10:29:47
Football.co.uk's Joe Strange speaks to everyone's favourite football commentator, Chris Kamara, to find out what he really thinks about changing his name for the World Cup, Ian Holloway's Blackpool and ditching management for a career in broadcasting.
Before we get started, do I call you Chris Kamara or Chris Cabanga?
You definitely call me Chris Kamara! A PR company got in touch with me before the World Cup and asked if I'd be interested in changing my name to Chris Cabanga, Cabanga meaning 'imagine' in Zulu. I wasn't too sure about it but then they asked if I'd be up for it if they could get 30,000 fans to sign a petition on Facebook. They managed to do it in two weeks and so I stuck to my word and travelled to London to make sure I could still travel to South Africa on my current passport. We launched the campaign to get behind England at the World Cup but unfortunately it didn't do much good! I had the name for about four weeks in total but as soon as England got knocked out I called my son from Bloemfontein and told him to get online and change it back!
Obviously your name change wasn't enough to save England in South Africa, how glad are you to have the Premier League and Football League back after what went on at the World Cup?
I enjoyed being at the World Cup - it was an amazing experience and something really special but I watched that first 45 minutes of Spurs versus Manchester City and it was a relief. Seeing proper football again, with players getting stuck in and quality all over the pitch was great. The way the Premier League has started with so many goals has just made everyone think 'we're not going to settle for dross like we saw at the World Cup'.
One side heavily involved in the goals so far has been Blackpool. How do you think they will cope with the step to the Premier League this season?
It'll be very hard for them and that's an understatement. It was a good day and a bad day when they beat Wigan 4-0 in their first game. It was a good day because they won but bad because it raised everyone's expectations. People started thinking they might be alright and that piles on the pressure. They don't seem to be in the market for Premier League players like other promoted clubs in recent years have been. Ian Holloway didn't attend their Carling Cup game with MK Dons the other night as he was scouting a player in a Championship club versus Leage One club tie. He must be the only top-flight manager watching those sort of games when he's looking for new players. It'll be a massive achievement if they manage to stay up.
Holloway is well known as being a bit of a character. Do we have enough characters in the modern game or is that something we lack compared to days gone by?
I was at Elland Road last night (Tuesday 24th) and I was sat with a big Leeds fan. When I played for Leeds we had a team containing the likes of Mel Sterland, Mervyn Day, Gordon Strachan, Gary Speed and Lee Chapman. They were footballing names that everybody knew, but if I went down to Bournemouth or Southampton and asked them to name the current Leeds team then most people would struggle to do it. Characters have changed in football but having said that we still have people like Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, David Moyes, Harry Redknapp and Sam Allardyce. We like listening to those sort of people which shows they are still around. Quirky characters like Ian Holloway are few and far between though.
Football has changed a lot since you started your career back in the seventies. Do you think all the developments have been for the better or would you like to see older aspects of the game return?
We've got to live with the times, we're not in the old days anymore. People are always telling me that the game's crap and that it's not as good as it was when I played. I'm not saying that it is or it isn't but I know it was a hell of a lot different. It's hard to compare whether players today would've lived with the game in the era that I played or whether players from then would've cope with today.
If you'd played in the mega-wages era we have today, do you think you still would've gone into broadcasting?
When I finished playing I knew I still had to carry on and work but broadcasting is something I've always enjoyed doing. I started towards the end of my playing days and then got involved with Sky when they were starting to get really big. Everyone wants to have a career after football and players are always looking at new things. Vinnie Jones went into acting and you can't see David Beckham just wanting to go and play golf everyday! I didn't just want to sit around on a beach somewhere, I wanted to be working. Even though it's a necessity to put food on the table, being a presenter on Sky is something I really enjoy.
Chris Kamara is the football ambassador for Marie Curie Cancer Care - the Football League's Official Charity partner for the 2010/11 season. He's climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in June to raise cash for the charity, and wants footy fans to join him to help conquer Mt Kamaramanjaro! For more information, please log on to www.football-league.co.uk/mariecurie
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