The Interview (Richard Chaplow)
Richard David Chaplow was born in Accrington, Lancashire on the 2nd February 1985, he joined Burnley at the age of eight, before earning a scholarship at the club in 2001 as part of the YTS Apprenticeships, turning down offers from local rivals Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City.
After being included as an unused substitute against Preston North End on 8 April 2003, he made his Clarets debut coming on as a second-half sub in 2–0 defeat against Norwich City on 12 April 2003, he want on to make five appearances in the 2002-03 season.
Despite still being part of the youth team, Chaplow continued to progress at the start of the 2003–04 season playing in midfield for the first team and scoring his first Clarets goal against Crewe Alexandra on 30th August 2003. He was rewarded with his first full-time contract in 2003 and went on to win the PFA First Division Player of the Month award for December, whilst making 39 appearances for the Clarets in the 2003-04 season.
Chaplow was subject of a transfer move throughout the summer, with Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United interested in signing the midfielder. However he ended the transfer speculation by signing a new four–year contract, keeping him at the club until 2008, despite signing a new contract there was more links with a move to Premier League side West Bromwich Albion in the January transfer window.
The club rejected a bid early in the window, but his outstanding performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup meant the midfielder received more praise for his performances during January 2005 and manager Steve Cotterill lost Chaplow on transfer deadline day, when the club accepted a bid from West Bromwich Albion for £1.5million and he joined the Midlands club.
After spending three years at the Hawthorns making 44 appearances for West Bromwich, Chaplow returned to Lancashire signing for Preston North End in January 2008, for a fee of £800,000. He spent three years at Deepdale making 68 appearances, scoring 8 goals before the club faced financial problems and he was one of eight players to be put on a transfer list by manager Darren Ferguson.
Chaplow then moved to Southampton on a one month loan deal in September 2010, which was extended until the end of year. A permanent move to St.Mary’s Stadium followed in the January transfer window, he went on to make 46 appearances for the saints before going on loan to Millwall in March 2013. On the 11th July 2013, Chaplow agreed to cancel his contract with Southampton and joined Millwall on a permanent contract, he stayed at the New Den for 2 years before joining Doncaster Rovers in the summer of 2015 on a two-year contract.
On 29 July 2016, Chaplow took his family to the USA and signed for United Soccer League side Orange County Blues. At present he has made 28 appearances for the club, scoring 2 goals and he is the current club captain.
Biggest influence on your career in football?
There’s been many influences on my career from role models and inspirations as a kid growing up to working with some world-class coaches however it all starts somewhere and for me without my Dad none of it would have been possible. He introduced me to Burnley at and early age and my passion and love for the game took off from there. He would drive me to sessions and games all over the country, and give me advice along the way, sometimes I’d listen sometimes I didn’t, like any kid with their parents at times but it was the love and support from my parents that made it all happen.
What is your best football highlight?
To choose one highlight is incredibly tough there has been so many moments each as special as the next. To make my debut was a lifetime dream and to make it for Burnley made it even more special. To sign for West Bromwich Albion in the Premiership and be part of the great escape was amazing. Scoring against Manchester United in the FA Cup for Southampton and against Ipswich Town in the 94th minute to get the team back in the play-offs with only a few games remaining, but I’m opting for team achievement above an individual. The memories created in my time at Southampton will never be matched, to become part of a family which involved fans, coaches, staff, players and players wife’s. I don’t think I’ll ever experience something like that again, to top that off with not one but two promotions with that group was incredible.
What is your football lowlight?
It is true that football is literally a rollercoaster ride at times and just as there are many highs there will inevitably be lows. I’ve experienced relegation with WBA and also fallen short of my own exceptions on the pitch at times most notably at Millwall where things never got going form wise. However without doubt these moments are all overshadowed by a recent experience in the USA in which I was accused of repeated homophobic slurs by a player on the pitch.
In a time where we all need to work harder to stamp out any type of discrimination & towards a goal of equality for everyone, not only in sport but as a population, it is sad that on this occasion the subject was in the news for the wrong reasons and I hope next time it’s there for a positive one.
From a personal perspective it was a difficult time, when the initial claim was made I took comfort in knowing that anyone that has every crossed paths with me, people who know my character, values and traits know what I stand for as a person. However even this along with the fact that the investigation cleared the claim it is still something I think about daily and upsets me that I have at one time been viewed in this way. I have learnt a lot from this situation and that’s a mantra I always try to maintain to learn from any situation bad or good, take the positives even if there aren’t many at times!
Tell us about your League Debut?
My league debut came away at Norwich City for Burnley and I had travelled with the team due to injuries to the first team squad and a current raise in recent form with the reserves and youth team meant that 2/3 scholars were summoned to the bench, a great experience in itself. I loved warming up on the sidelines, the atmosphere everything like nothing I’d experienced before, it was a dream come true to be involved in a professional game even as part of the squad, I never thought for one second that I’d would enter play.
An injury to one of our midfielders after 20 minutes meant Stan Ternent the manager at the time had to make an early substitution, he opted to put a more experienced player on in Gordon Armstrong. I thought that was that but the next thing I know 25 minutes later, I was told to warm up at half-time. The boss had decided he wanted to put me on and I replaced Armstrong, if I’am honest the game was blur from there, I must have played well though as I got a stand ovation from the Clarets fans at the Airport as they were on the same flight home as us, the following game I was selected in the starting eleven and I never looked back!
Toughest Opponent You faced and Why?
Toughest opponent has to be Steven Gerrard, he single-handedly ran the entire game at Anfield from start to finish. I thought I was fit at the time, but Gerrard was on another level, something I have never been up against before I didn’t get close to him the whole game, he had it all. Pace, power, stamina and with the ball he has GPS in his boots.
Best Goal You Scored and why?
Best goal I’ve scored is a tricky one….I’ll opt for my goal in the FA Cup against Manchester United while playing at Southampton in 2011, we played so well as a team that day and took United right to the wire. The performance gave us more confidence and helped us continue our form in the league and we eventually made the automatic promotion spots. However to see 27,000 saints fans go mental was something I’ll never forget! Amazing memories.
Best manager you have played for and why?
Mauricio Pochettino without a doubt. In the season I got to work under him I learnt so much in such a short time, the intensity he brought to our sessions was incredible. He showed us a new way to train and play, it was a real eye opener. His attention to detail was unreal but it was his ability to manage a squad and be a leader that impressed me the most it’s no surprise to me that he is regarded as one of the best coaches in the world.
Best player you played with and why?
Adam Lallana, is the best player I have played with because he tied people in knots daily, left foot, right foot it didn’t matter how the ball was played to him, he would manipulate it perfectly 99% of the time. Balance, agility and guile at its best, I used to love watching him terrorising defences and then after training I would terrorise him with my banter!
Best player you played against and why?
That would have to be Cristiano Ronaldo! When I played against him at Manchester United he wasn’t regarded as best in the world, but he was well on his way to being the main man at Manchester United. His career speaks for itself between him and Messi no one else can stake a claim right now in challenging them.
Your now playing in the USA is the standard different compared to the UK?
Football in the USA is behind where we are in Europe in regards to standard, in my opinion there are many reasons for this such as the current structure of the leagues, the emphasis on education first, professional sport second and also the previous coaching requirements not being stringent enough. However it is encouraging to see the rapid growth of the sport here and recent changes will now see the coaching licences become more demanding and fall in-line with the rest of the worlds requirements. There is without doubt a hotbed of talent here, it just needs to be nurtured accordingly and I’m sure in the years to come we’ll start seeing America consistently produce players that go on to become global stars and in turn the general standard increase to the point they can start competing with Europe.