Tim Holland speaks to West Ham Academy graduate and former Republic of Ireland U21 striker Lee Boylan about Paolo Di Canio, scoring at Wembley and playing in Canvey Island and Sweden.

You came through the West Ham academy, how do you rate your time at the club

You came through the West Ham academy, how do you rate your time at the club?

I enjoyed my time at the club and it meant so much to me as I have supported the Hammers since I was a young boy so it was an honour from that perspective. Not only that but I had the opportunity to play with and against some very good players too.

What’s your best memory of your time at Upton Park?

I had a lot of very good memories while at West Ham and I couldn’t really single one out in particular. Every game and every training session had something different to remember, no matter if it was bad or good – they all helped me to improve as a footballer.

Who was the best player you played with and against?

Paolo Di Canio has got to one of the best players I have played with, along with Ian Wright. The best player I’ve played against has got to be Rio Ferdinand. He always seemed to get back at you and make a challenge even if you thought you’d got past him.

Do you think there’s pressure on West Ham youth players being part of the Academy of Football?

I believe that there’s pressure on every young player, be it at West Ham’s academy or the academy of any other team. You need that pressure though and you soon realise that because the older you get and the higher the level you play, the more the pressure increases. It’s all about how you manage to overcome the pressure that is in front of you.

Do you still keep in touch with any of the lads from your West Ham days?

I still occasionally speak to Lee Hodges and Joe Keith and have spoken to Rio Ferdinand a few times. I’ve also just recently got back in touch with Michael Carrick. It’s hard as we all live across the country and we’ve all got families and other responsibilities so it’s hard.

You moved to Swedish club Trelleborg in 1999. How did that come about?

I just had been released by West Ham and was looking for another club, but there were a lot of vicious rumours going around about myself (which were all false), so my agent Rachel Anderson at the time asked me if I wanted to play out in Sweden and I jumped at the chance to head over there.

How did you get on out there? It must have been a bit of a culture shock?

I did quite well out there scoring five goals in 10 games and it was a lot different and difficult for me to get used to being young, but something that I will always be glad I did. I had to come home due to being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, which I have to live with for the rest of my life.

You’ve played for a number of clubs and have scored consistently, where have you felt most at home?

I must say I felt most at home at Canvey Island – we had a great bunch of lads and a brilliant team spirit and we were successful too!

Your scoring record at Canvey Island was incredible – 148 goals in 178 games. Was there a lot of interest in you at this time?

I heard there was a lot of interest and some clubs including Nottingham Forest put bids in for me but the management at Canvey Island didn’t tell me directly until it was too late!

What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?

There have been a few like winning several promotions with different clubs but I must say that scoring a goal in the FA Trophy Final at Wembley in front of my whole family is right up there too. It’s every kid’s dream to score in a Final at Wembley, our national stadium.

Can you tell us a bit about what you’re up to now?

I am currently still playing part time for Maldon and Tiptree FC and I’m a Herbalife Distributor

A footballer’s career is shorter than most, have you got any plans post retirement?

Football is a short career and it’s been hard for me to make a move into normal work as such but I hope to get all my coaching badges and I’m already a qualified personal trainer and fitness coach, so I look forward to possibly doing that.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.