My best teacher - Michael Carrick

4th June 2010 at 01:00
The World Cup hopeful didn't have ambitions to be a pro until he was given a nudge in the right direction

I enjoyed school. I was pretty good as well - it was just the homework I struggled with. I did it, but like every kid I didn't want to do it. I was alright though: I behaved myself.

I went to Stephenson First School, Western Middle School and Burnside High School (all Wallsend, North Tyneside). I was always into all different kinds of sport, not just football. I played rugby, cricket, tennis - anything that was going.

Colin Mackay was a PE teacher at Western and he was the one I got closest to. He let us try different sports and he was always willing to teach us new sports and take us to games.

We had a good year in terms of sport. We had a number of lads who were skilled and played in the rugby, football and cricket teams and were quite good at athletics, too. It was the same group of eight or ten lads who were pretty good at all sports.

Mr Mackay really encouraged us to play. I think he enjoyed it because we were quite successful so it was rewarding. We won pretty much everything: the local cups and the county cup, which was the biggest one. He was so enthusiastic and constantly pushed us to get better.

Mr Mackay ran all the school teams so he was always taking us to matches. He was there after school and on Saturday mornings. He put a lot of time in and gave up a lot of his free time for us. Some schools don't have teachers who do that and it is a real shame. Some kids don't get that opportunity, or they don't have the facilities.

I love any sport, but particularly football. I love playing it and watching it, but I never set out to be a professional footballer. It was such a long way off and I just played for the enjoyment. I tried to be good at it, but when you are 10 or 12 it is just a case of wanting to be as good as you can.

When I was at Stephenson we played against Western and Mr Mackay put me forward to play for Wallsend Boys. He did it without knowing me so he must have seen something in me to do that, but that set me on the path really. A year later we moved house and I went to Western.

I was at a school of excellence (at Middlesbrough) from when I was nine or ten, but I was only a kid so it was just something I did. It was good to go along, but I never thought I had a great chance of being a professional until I was about 15. I signed for West Ham when I was 14 and I moved down there as soon as I took my exams and finished school. It was only when I went down there full-time that I thought I could make it. I got some good results in my exams, though.

I keep in touch with Mr Mackay. I see him now and again: he is still in the same area although he has moved on to another high school. He is more of a friend now and I bump into him when I'm back. I would probably have been a footballer anyway, but he encouraged me and he was always there, giving me little bits of advice.

  • Manchester United and England footballer Michael Carrick was speaking at the launch of the Manchester United Foundation's Enterprise programme, which delivers information, advice and enterprise activities for children. He was talking to Nick Morrison.

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