Video: Wes Morgan on why he didn’t think he’d become a professional footballer.
Former Nottingham Forest and Premier League-winning defender Wes Morgan appeared on the latest episode of Team Talk and said he didn’t think he’d make it as a professional footballer.
Brought up in the Meadows, Big Wes, as he was fondly known on Trentside, made more than 400 appearances for the Reds after being released from Notts County as a 15-year-old, then central midfielder.
But the coach of Morgan’s college team at the time, Chris Dowhan, arranged a trial for him at the City Ground and the local lad was snapped up and converted into a centre-half – making his professional debut in 2003.
The now 33-year-old Jamaica international eventually departed for Leicester City in 2012 and his rise was meteoric: earning promotion with the Foxes from the Championship and captaining them to Premier League glory in the 2015-16 campaign.
And, although the strapping defender has mixed it up with Europe’s elite and scored in the Champions League, in the first of a two-part interview for nottstv.com, Morgan told Iain Chambers and Charlie McParland that an effort in an enthralling league cup tie with neighbours Notts County at the City Ground remains his fondest.
That game in 2011 saw the Reds draw 3-3 with the Magpies, winning 4-3 on penalties.
“Ispent most of my younger footballing career at Notts County in the youth teams.
I did OK and for one reason or another it didn’t work out how I expected it to and I didn’t get offered a youth team contract.
It was pretty disappointing at the time but you’ve got to move on from that and I was very fortunate to get another opportunity to showcase my talent.
At the time, I left Notts County and was playing for semi-professional team Dunkirk.
I was going to college, playing football and going about my business.
It was a coach at my college football team, Chris Dowhan, who had ties to Nottingham Forest.
He must’ve seen something in me and organised trials for me at Nottingham Forest. And that’s how it all began.
I have to say no [I didn’t think I’d make it as a professional].
I was more than happy playing with my friends, playing in a men’s team, a young lad playing in a semi-professional men’s team at Dunkirk.
I was just enjoying it, there was no real pressure on me.
I have to say football, professionally, might not have been on the cards.
But I was playing and just enjoying it – I was still young – and to get the opportunity to go to Nottingham Forest on trial was such a big thing.
I remember thinking ‘I’ve got to impress as best as I can’.
I was at Notts County and not getting the opportunity to progress, I thought to myself, ‘let’s just play for the fun of it and see what happens’. And look what happened.
If anyone asks me what’s my favourite ever goal, I always say the Notts County-Forest goal.
I think it was the occasion as well, playing against Notts County, just across the river in such a big game.
Just the way the game went, it was in extra time and we were losing. I tend to go up [in attack] sometimes to cause a bit of trouble and try and nick a goal, I’ve not nicked many goals when I’ve gone up front.
Sometimes I’m a diversion if anything. But I went up to cause some problems and I remember a long-ball getting kicked from the defence up top and it dropped kindly for me. I thought I’d just hit it.”
For more from Wes, watch the June 28 episode of Team Talk on our catch-up service by clicking here.