Tim Holland speaks to ex Hammer Ishmael Welsh about never being caught by Mark Noble and improving mental health through exercise

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

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

My time at the West Ham Academy was one I cherish to this day as it was the foundation of my teaching coming into my adult life. Learning to discipline not only your body but also your mind was important as both aspects play a vital role in everyday society. I had some great teachers both coaching and playing staff and I am grateful for each and every one of them especially Tony Carr for giving me that opportunity.

What’s your best memory of your time at the Boleyn Ground?

My best memory at the Boleyn Ground would have to be playing in the FA Youth cup against Luton Town. It was my first taste of playing in front of a big crowd and I had great fun on that pitch that day.

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

Yes I am still good friends with the likes of Chris Cohen, Kyel Reid, Hogan Ephraim and a few others from my age group. Even if we don’t see or speak to each other much, when we do it’s as if we’ve never been apart.

You’ve gone onto play for Yeovil, Torquay, Grays and Chelmsford. Where have you enjoyed the most?

I really enjoyed my time at Yeovil Town, being the first club where I was an important player. With this came new responsibilities on and off the pitch. Each club I enjoyed in its own way though, not necessarily at the time but if I look back now and reflect they all served a good purpose.

Who has been the best player you played with and against?

The best player I played with would be Mark Noble. He could never catch me in training but as slow as he is, he has fantastic ability and his footballing brain along with his understanding of the game make him an asset to the team. The best player I played against would be Gareth Bale when Yeovil played Southampton in the FA Cup. We were both playing on the left so he was on the other side of the pitch and every time I looked over there he was just gliding past people and hitting sweet left footed shots. He was destined to get to the top and rightly so.

You were called up for the England C team. How big an honour was that?

It’s great to represent your country at any level so I was honoured to do so and pull on that shirt.

You were featured in Clarke Carlisle’s documentary about mental health in football. How did that come about?

Clarke had heard about our company Focus Fitness UK where our philosophy is to help ex footballers prepare for life after football by getting them qualified into the fitness world and mentoring them along the way if that’s the path they choose to take.

Do you think there’s more pressure on youth players nowadays?

I personally think the pressure isn’t so much on the youth players that go on to play in the first team but the ones that get let go. While their peers and age group are studying and acquiring qualifications preparing for adult life there’s not enough emphasis on the importance of the young players’ actual wellbeing if they do not make the grade.

A footballer’s career is shorter than most. What are doing in your retirement?

I run my own business now where my emphasis is to ‘help’ and reach out to people who suffer from a state of depression to help them overcome that through exercise and confidence building.

Do you still keep an eye for the West Ham scores? Any predictions for West Ham this season?

Yes I do from time to time. Seeing as how the season has gone so far, a run of good results is in need to steady the ship and avoid an ever present risk of a relegation battle.

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