My best teacher

14th February 2003 at 00:00
My favourite teacher was a guy called Johnny Johnston, who taught PE at Ralph Allen comprehensive in Bath. We used to call him JJ. We got on well.

A lot of the teachers I didn't get along with. I was expelled when I was 15 and told to come back six months later and sit my exams. Early on, school was good fun. I loved it. Because I was fairly good at sport, JJ was the teacher I most related to. Some of the other teachers had a bit of a thing about me, and if there was any noise in the classroom, the board rubber would be thrown in my direction. I was seen as a bit of a troublemaker. The teacher would be doing something on the board, and, without turning round, would shout out "Guscott!" Fifty per cent of the time it was me and the rest of the time it wasn't. You couldn't argue - except I did.

I wasn't very big on school. It has improved now, I believe, but when I was there, they taught you how to try to pass exams, they didn't tell you much about life. My attendance was fantastic; it was what I did at school that wasn't too clever. I got chucked out for a combination of things. I was caught smoking, I was rude to teachers and I swore at teachers, but I was more mischievous than a real pain. I look back at school and I don't think they were smart enough to deal with me, because I wasn't stupid, I just needed the right control.

I don't think I would be where I am now if that hadn't happened. If I had got some qualifications and had aspirations to go to university I definitely wouldn't be where I am now. I got seven CSEs and went to college with a view to taking O-levels, but there was too much freedom and I spent four months in the common room playing pinball and pool. After that I did various jobs. I worked in a supermarket, I was a bus driver, I did a City and Guilds course in bricklaying and then worked for British Gas.

JJ was your typical PE teacher, a bit like the Brian Conley character in The Grimleys. He was a cool guy. He had a tan, he went on nice summer holidays with an attractive girlfriend, he had a yellow Triumph Spitfire soft top, the best trainers, the nicest tracksuit, and was good at most sports. He was a teacher I could talk to without any problems. He would sit me down sometimes and try to sort me out. He'd say you've got to toe the party line or things aren't going to be that great for you in the rest of your school life.

I played rugby, cricket, football and athletics. I enjoyed long jump, high jump and triple jump, but I was rubbish at sprinting. I was a late developer. At school I was small, and I suppose there was a bit of wind resistance from my Afro haircut. My position for rugby was fly-half until I was about 18 or 19, when I changed to centre.

As a child I wanted to be a PE teacher, so maybe subconsciously JJ was a bit of a role model, but I didn't have any great aspirations. University never ever crossed my mind. I don't think I knew it even existed. My mother got her qualifications to be a teacher late in life and my dad didn't go, so there was no family tradition of going to a university. I remember seeing the careers advice teacher and it was probably then that it dawned that to be a teacher you're going to have to get some decent qualifications.

I bumped into JJ occasionally after I left school because he played hockey at the recreation ground alongside the rugby pitches where I played, and I'd sometimes see him after a game and say hi. The nicest thing JJ did for me was when I was on This Is Your Life and he said that although I may have had some ups and downs at school, he said how pleased he was that I had gone on to make something of my life.

Former England international rugby player Jeremy Guscott was talking to Harvey McGavin

THE STORY SO FAR

1965 Born in Bath

1972 Plays rugby for Bath junior teams

1980 Expelled from school

1984 Debut for Bath first team

1989 First England cap

1997 Career highlight when playing for British Lions: last-minute drop goal wins deciding test in South Africa

1999 Plays last game for England, ending international career of 65 tests and 30 tries; tried and acquitted of road rage incident

2000 Awarded MBE for services to rugby

2001 Retires from playing; completes 800-mile sponsored walk in aid of leukaemia research

2003 BBC pundit for Six Nations tournament, starting February 15

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