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The Tony Cascarino Q&A Interview
Exclusive to talkSPORT1089.co.uk

Tony Cascarino, born in Kent to an Italian father and English mother, played
top flight professional footballer for over 18 years. The highlight of his football
career was playing 88 times for the Republic of Ireland.

The tall striker played for Gillingham, Millwall, Aston Villa, Celtic, Chelsea,
Marseille and Nancy. Cascarino, who used to be a hairdresser, started his
career at Gillingham before signing for Millwall for 200,000 in 1987 where he
forged a successful partnership with Teddy Sheringham.

Cascarino is best remembered for his achievement of playing 88 times in the
green jersey of Ireland after making his debut in 1985. Cascarino also played for
Villa, Celtic and Chelsea before moving to Francel to play for Marseille & Nancy.

Cascarino's career was never short of controversy and all was revealed in the No. 1 bestseller "Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino", which is widely acclaimed as the best biography of any British or Irish footballer for a generation. In the book that shocked the nation, he confessed that he was a "Fake Irishman", after he learnt that his mother was adopted & therefore his Irish grandfather was not a blood relative.

Cascarino was an integral part of the Republic of Ireland squad for the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and now presents Drivetime every weekday between 4:00pm-7:00pm with Patrick Kinghorn.

Since joining talkSPORT last year you have moved up the ladder quite quickly and now present Drivetime. How have you found your first few months on your new timeslot?

There is a big contrast between my football career and presenting a radio show, for five nights a week, as I have to make a lot of preparation before doing any show. I am learning all the time and it's an enjoyable experience to work with such a professional in Patrick as I know there were some teething problems when we first started but I believe they have been ironed out and are sounding better than ever.

Having presented with Lee Clayton and Rob McCaffrey on other shows on talkSPORT, were you eager to take on the Drivetime role with Patrick Kinghorn?
I was a little worried by the commitment I was making because I was only doing two shows a week before I teamed up with Patrick. The show with Lee Clayton and Rob McCaffrey were enjoyable but I was eager to progress and do the Drive show and jumped at the chance when asked. The talkSPORT management called Patrick and myself on the Thursday and we did our first show together on the following Monday.

Honestly, what is your relationship with Patrick Kinghorn like? Do you think that you make a good partnership for an opinion based radio show?
We can be the best of friends one day and then enemies another day. We're quite a fiery combination off air. I don't know if that's how the show sounds but we were thrown together at the deep end and to be honest it was worrying at first working on one of the main shows on the station but now I'm very comfortable.

What has been your highlight so far on the Drive show?
There has been no real highlight on the show so far, although the Rio Ferdinand drugs story broke whilst we were on air and took a lot of calls on the matter. I gave my views on the facts that I was given and told listeners what it was like taking a drugs test as a professional footballer.

Would you like the opportunity to take on more special shows such as the recent Euro 2004 draw and the forthcoming Sporting Clash of the Titans?
I'm enjoying doing Drive a lot and I want to progress with that before I do anything else on a permanent basis. It was good doing the show on the Sunday about the Euro 2004 draw but I wouldn't like to make a habit of it.

Are you looking forward to the Sporting Clash of the Titans this Christmas on talkSPORT in which you will be playing a major role?
Yes I can't wait to go head to head with Adrian Durham, Gabriele Marcotti and Alvin Martin. Adrian and Gabriele are very knowledgeable about their football and it is going to take a lot to beat them. I hope a lot of people listen when the show is on this Christmas.

During your distinguished football career, did you always consider a future job in sports media and journalism, let alone the Drivetime slot on talkSPORT?
Not at all. I wanted to give my all in my football career and nothing else had crossed my mind about what I wanted to do after I had retired. I have been very fortunate to land such a great job at talkSPORT.

As a youngster which football players did you look up to?
I was a huge fan of Marco Van Basten, as well as Kenny Dalglish and Kevin Keegan. I also looked up to a number of Milwall players when I was younger too as they were my local side.

Also as a youngster were there any football commentators or presenters that you looked up to?
Brian Moore was a director at Gillingham when I played there and was fortunate enough to meet him. I also think that John Motson is a top class commentator. When you know these people you find out how much effort and preparation they make into making the commentary you hear so great. They should be applauded for this as they provide a first class service for the fans.

During your fantastic and varied professional football career, which centre forward did you find the most rewarding to play alongside?
No question, Teddy Sheringham. We had a fantastic time whilst we were at Milwall and had a great partnership together. It helped that we were friends but it's not always essential to be a potent strike force.

Of the managers you worked under, who would you consider to have been the most influential and helpful to your career?

Laszlo Boloni, my manager when playing for French side Nancy, was probably the best manager I have ever worked under. I played until I was 38 and can only put it down to his excellent management. Laszlo is currently manager of Rennes.

What advice would you give to a youngster looking to get into the game in the current climate?
Don't do what I did! I think that you should play well first and then worry about the money you're getting later. Too many players do it the other way round and it doesn't do them any good whatsoever. I'm not saying that you shouldn't enjoy what you're doing but you have to be disciplined in this game.

Have you noticed a notable change in the game of football as you know it, since you made your breakthrough as a footballer?
The attention from the media is immense and you're followed all the time by people from the newspapers, TV and radio. As a player you have to be ever so careful what you say to make sure it's not taken out of context and used against you.

Speaking from your experience playing abroad, do you think that this helped you as a footballer? Would you like to see more English or British based players take opportunities to play abroad?
It's one of the best experiences I have had and I think that it helped me greatly, not only as a footballer but as a person. I think if you want to develop yourself as a player then moving to a foreign league has got to be the best way to do this.

What for you has been the proudest moment of your professional life?

I scored two goals in a vital European Cup game against Juventus whilst playing for Marseille, something which I was very proud of. I also played in the 1990 World Cup in Italy for the Republic of Ireland. At the time I didn't know I wasn't allowed to play but as I look back now it still gives me great satisfaction to have played international football on the biggest stage of them all.

Do you think that the Abramovich-effect has had a positive effect on English football, or do you think that it goes against the ethos of the game?
It's been extremely positive for football in this country as I believe that it has broke the domination of Arsenal and Manchester United in the Premiership title race. Although Chelsea have been the main benefactors from Abramovich's fortune, other clubs have received money as a result. What would West Ham's financial status be like if Chelsea had not bought Joe Cole off them?

Can you see Sven-Goran Eriksson staying on with England beyond Euro 2004?

If England have a successful campaign then I think he'll stay. If England have a similar tournament like they did at Euro 2000 then Sven will walk.

What was the last book that you read?
Poker Nation. I'm a huge fan of Poker and play it whenever I can and love it nearly as much as football.

What type of music do you listen to?

Whether it's punk, soul or jazz then I'll listen. I like almost everything.

What was the last film that you saw at the cinema?
I went with my kids to see Finding Nemo. It's not bad for a kids movie. I wouldn't have gone out of my way to see it for myself.

You can hear Tony Cascarino alongside Patrick Kinghorn every Weekday between 4:00pm-7:00pm on the UK's best drivetime sports show on talkSPORT. Tony also writes a weekly column every Monday for The Times Newspaper for their Monday football supplement  The Game.

The Tony Cascarino Q&A Interview
Essential Sport at Drive
December 2003