Joe Ledley, footballer

Joe Ledley

The Celtic and Wales midfielder says "Enjoy what you're doing and just keep working hard".

Matt Jones: Looking back at your younger days, has football always been your favourite sport?

Joe Ledley: Definitely. I was brought up in a football family, and I've wanted to play football since I was young.

MJ: Why football?

JL: I enjoy it and it's massive. I've just always wanted to play football.

MJ: When you were in school, were you always first to be picked for the team?

JL: Throughout school I was first choice and it was brilliant for me.

MJ: It's quite common to hear managers say 'You need leaders out on the pitch.' Do you think of yourself as a leader?

JL: Yeah, a bit of a quiet leader. I was captain at school. I used to choose my team and I always wanted to be captain.

Profile

Name:
Joe Ledley

Born:
21 January 1987

Height:
6ft

Position:
Midfield

Club:
Celtic

Debut:
21 September 2004 (MK Dons v Cardiff)

First Goal:
2 November 2004 (Cardiff v West Ham)

MJ: Who were your heroes when you were growing up?

JL: I used to like Nathan Blake and Ryan Giggs. They were great people to look up to. Blakie was a goal scorer and Ryan Giggs had all the skills and pace. He was in my position and that's who I wanted to be like.

MJ: Tell us about your training regime when you were a youngster. Were you very disciplined?

JL: You've got to have good food and keep training as hard as you can. That's what I did when I was younger.

MJ: Did you always dream of becoming a professional footballer?

JL: I was always focused on football. When I was at school I played lots of sports, which kept my fitness up, but I was always focused on football. That was what I always wanted to do when I was older.

MJ: Have you had to make many sacrifices along the way?

JL: Yeah, sometimes. You can't go out in town, out clubbing, when you're a footballer. You've got to relax.

MJ: How do you prepare mentally for a match?

JL: I listen to music before I go out - R&B, hip hop, stuff like that.

MJ: There's so much talk about childhood obesity at the moment - sport can be a fun way for kids to get fit can't it?

JL: Yeah it's great. There are loads of sports you can do and it's just dedication. If you want to do something you should do it, and eat properly as well.

MJ: What was it like progressing from the youth academies into the senior team?

JL: It was a massive jump. I did a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) and worked really hard to become what I am. I did all the jobs - cleaning boots and things like that. Then I became a professional and it's brilliant.

MJ: It must be nice to have younger players cleaning your boots now?

JL: It keeps their feet on the ground. It's what I did and it was brilliant for me.

MJ: It must be hard to go out training when it's raining and snowing. What sort of mentality do you need to get through times like that?

JL: It's just focus really. The weather hasn't been great recently and it's been cold. It doesn't matter because everyone wants to train and be as good as they can be.

MJ: What was it like to play for Cardiff City when you'd supported them all your life?

JL: I always loved to watch Cardiff City. I always dreamt that I'd be on that pitch. I just kept my head down and worked as hard as I could in and out of school. I had my chance and I took it with both hands.

MJ: You've made the step up to international level - that must be a huge personal achievement?

JL: It's unbelievable. I was 18 or 19-years-old when I got my first cap. It's everybody's dream to play for Wales and the club that they love.

MJ: What have been the highlights of your career so far?

JL: Probably my debut at Milton Keynes in the cup and then at Brighton in the league. That started my career off.

MJ: Any lowlights?

JL: I broke my metatarsal and was out for a long time. That was really hard.

MJ: Looking back over your career, has anyone ever given you inspirational advice?

JL: My mum and dad told me just to keep working hard. Coaches said to me 'Go out there and enjoy the game,' and that's what I've done.

MJ: Have you always been the type of person that likes going out to exercise?

JL: I liked playing on computers but I went out with my mates and had a little kick around as well. You can do both.

MJ: When did you first think 'I've established myself and I'm a football player now?'

JL: Probably when I didn't have to do jobs at the ground. I didn't have to clean boots or mop the away changing rooms - things like that.

MJ: Do you think doing those things gets you mentally prepared for what you've got in store for the future?

JL: Definitely. I don't think the young boys do all the jobs now. When I was a YTS we were here until 5 o'clock each day. You'd do jobs and clean things. I didn't really want to but I did them because I wanted to become a professional footballer.

MJ: How important has the youth academy been in your career?

JL: It's been brilliant. We're starting to play teams like Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea. You can show your ability against them which is brilliant for the youngsters.

MJ: What advice would you give to youngsters growing up who want to become a football player?

JL: I would say to them just enjoy playing football. Enjoy what you're doing and just keep working hard.

MJ: Do the fans have any songs for you?

JL: They just shout 'Joe Ledley' and things like that.

MJ: What's that like?

JL: It's brilliant. It gets you motivated and it's just good to hear the fans singing your name.

MJ: What did it feel like to sign your first autograph?

JL: I was walking to the shops and someone asked 'Are you Joe Ledley?' I said 'Yeah,' and they said 'Can I have your autograph?' I didn't know what to do, so I just signed it.

MJ: Does that support from the fans motivate you on a Saturday?

JL: It's brilliant. The fans have been great. Every Saturday they're out there asking for an autograph and saying 'All the best,' and 'Keep doing what you're doing.' It's just brilliant to have that.


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