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The world according to Darren Ambrose of Crystal Palace...
Published : 20 Apr 2011 18:21:27Rss feed
He's been a professional footballer for 10 years and wants to play for another 10. There's been an array of clubs, lots more managers and some great stories along the way. Here, Alex Kay speaks to Crystal Palace midfielder Darren Ambrose about Sir Bobby, chipped teeth and his 13 managers in 10 seasons. MAKING MY DEBUT It was against Arsenal at Highbury and I came on as a sub. My best friend in football - Darren Bent - was already in the team and I got put in the squad. I didn't think much of it at the time. I wasn't nervous in the warm-up, which was surprising, but as soon as I was waiting to come on, I was. I got the nod with about 15 minutes to go and I had a chance. I was up against Tony Adams and David Seaman and it felt like there was no space anywhere. Seaman saved my shot. Who's boss? Darren Ambrose has worked under 13 managers in just 10 years as a pro A SMASHING START We had George Burley for half of the next season and I'd scored two goals in pre-season against Celta Vigo, so I was starting. We played Walsall in the first game of the season and it was mixed emotions for me because the night before I had chipped my tooth off on a bat playing table tennis in digs. Then in the game I scored but later got a ball in my face, bit down on my lip and had to have 12 stitches. THE LURE OF SIR BOBBY Leaving was strange. We were in administration, the January transfer window had shut but the club were given permission to sell me. I wasn't desperate to leave but when a man like Sir Bobby Robson comes in for you, you can't say no. I didn't really want to leave because we were in the play-off spots but then the door swung open one night and in came Sir Bobby. We talked for four hours and did a deal. He was so passionate about what he wanted to do, his ideas and I couldn't say no. He was such a great manager. SHY BOY Jewel: Ambrose is a star at struggling Crystal Palace My best moment at Newcastle was my first day coming into training. Walking into a dressing room and seeing Alan Shearer, Gary Speed and Shay Given sitting there was amazing. I was so shy at first and it took me a few months to come out of my shell but it was easier once James Milner and Steven Taylor were on the scene. I had watched Alan Shearer in Euro 96 when I was a kid and there I was playing with him. It was a dream come true. MY BEST MATE I played with Bent since he was 12 and he was always a natural goalscorer and always the one who would be standing there to blast it into the net. There were a lot of good players at Ipswich then: Jim Magilton, Matt Holland, Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus. I tell some people they were my centre halves and they look astounded. They think I've been around since the 1980s. But I think Bent is the best player by a distance. TOUGH TYNES Life was tougher under Graeme Souness for me. I haven't got a bad word to say about him but I didn't fit his style of play. I got a chance near the end of the season though because Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer got sent off for that famous fight and I got a run in the team. I scored three in those last six games and Souness said he didn't want me to leave but then Charlton came in and the bid was accepted. BEST GOAL The best goal I scored in my career was for Newcastle against Bolton at the Reebok. It was in one of those starts under Souness. BEST OPPONENT The best player I played against is Ashley Cole. He has so much energy. BEST TEAM-MATE I can't single out the best I played with. Shearer is up there because of the goals he scored. We had Patrick Kluivert near the end of his career at Newcastle. He would make brilliant runs and you could ping it into him. I had Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at Charlton too. Matt Holland was the one who had the most influence on me when I was younger. He was Ipswich captain and at Charlton with me later too. He always looked out for Bent and me, being 10 years older. Best mates: Ambrose's closest friend in football is former Ipswich and Charlton team-mate Darren Bent BRIEF ENCOUNTERS WITH WAYNE WayneRooney and I had our first call-ups to the Under 21s at the same time -just after he had scored that first goal against Everton. He came in and went straight out to the full squad, more or less. REGRETS? You can't really have regrets because it is you who makes the decisions. Maybe I could have stayed at Newcastle for another year and kicked on. But I don't have any regrets. FIVE CHARLTON MANAGERS! I've had 13 managers in 10 years: George Burley, Tony Mowbray, Joe Royle, Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Alan Curbishley, Iain Dowie, Les Reed, Alan Pardew, Phil Parkinson, Jim Magilton, Neil Warnock, George Burley again and now Dougie Freedman. I almost forgot Phil Parkinson for a second there. Sorry, Phil! It was nice to be reunited with George Burley, the man who gave me my debut, at Palace. I was pleased he saw me again at a point in my career when I was doing well. Living the dream: Ambrose got to play with childhood hero Alan Shearer (left) at Newcastle THE NEXT GIGGS? I'll hopefully still be playing in 10 years. If my hips and knees last. I still have ambition in my career to play in the Premier League again. WHY THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS HARDER THAN THE PREMIER LEAGUE You get more time on the ball in the Premier League because teams trust their defences. In the Championship, everyone is scrapping away. I also think a lot more youngsters come through early now. They adapt to the game quicker. Open day! Fans go free for Doncaster relegation battle with Crystal Palace Crystal Palace 1 Scunthorpe 2: Mirfin and Nunez strike to settle six-pointerWhat a ride! Celebrating 20 years of Sky Sports firsts... 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