East-ender Sam Deering has enjoyed spells with clubs all over the London area and Midlands since he signed his professional contract in 2006. The 21-year-old midfielder talks about what it’s like to be a professional footballer with a baby daughter to look after, promotion to the Football League and the importance of being mature and learning from others.
You’ve enjoyed a career at a number of clubs including Oxford United, Barnet and now Cheltenham Town. What really makes a good club for you?
Mainly it’s the foundations for the club, going all the way from the senior team to under-21 level and the facilities help a lot as well. Barnet had an unbelievable training ground which was great. The support that you get from coaches is really important as well.
Who do you model your game on?
I model my game on players that I actually play with now, because they keep me out the team. You model yourself to be better than them. I can play on the wing, in the hole and as a centre midfielder. Football can be about the opinions of the managers on different players. Sometimes they like you, sometimes they don’t.
You came off the bench against Everton last week in the FA cup. How did you find playing against players with Champions League aspirations?
Although it wasn’t a great time to come off the bench, I really enjoyed coming on. There is such a big difference between the Premier League and League 2. I was up against Phil Neville in the last 13 minutes or so and although he may not be considered one of the best defenders in the Premier League I think he’s unbelievable and Everton are a very well organised side. Physically, Premier League players are fitter than us, but the facilities that they have access to help them a lot. I’m 100% dedicated to playing football and I work hard every day but Premier League dedication and League 2 dedication are two completely different things in my mind. What they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner all adds up and goes a long way to achieving that highest level in football.
UK Football Finder ran a petition two years ago signalling the need to change the way young players are coached in England. How were you coached when you were younger? Was the emphasis on strength and pace or were you encouraged to be more technical in the way you played football?
Well my first club that I joined was Leyton Orient when I was 11 years old I think. The coaching back then was more skill-based, doing keepy-ups- we were having fun. Of course it was competitive because everyone wants to win but there was more emphasis on fun. I was coached well at Oxford United by Micky Lewis and others but when I was young it was more about being fast and strong rather than having technical ability. In England, you rarely get a player that has both abilities- it’s one or the other.
How did it feel to set up a goal at Wembley Stadium when Oxford United got promoted in 2010?
My good friend Alfie and I still talk about it to the day because of the impact we had in the game when coming on! Oxford had a really good support for that game and it was a great occasion. However, I had to leave Oxford because I broke my leg and wasn’t getting enough game time. For the sake of my career I needed to play games.
Has the birth of your daughter helped you in your career as a footballer? Can she be a distraction or does she help you focus?
When you have kids it makes you want to work harder. My partner does well for me and it helped when my other half had the baby. Kids are definitely going to make you more determined to succeed, because it’s up to me to put the bread on the table.
Premier League clubs are full of players who have made their name in the lower leagues such as Adam Le Fondre and Grant Holt. Do you see yourself playing in the Championship or even the Premier League in the next few years?
Hopefully I can be playing in the Championship soon. I have been in and out of the team at Cheltenham but we’ve got a good chance of getting promoted this season which is our aim. If we get into League 1 you never know who is going to be watching you on scouting trips…
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