That was then......
Having been born in Eccles in 1967 to a football mad father, I quickly grew to love the game and the 'boys in blue' from Maine Road. I went to my first live game in 1975 and ended the season at Wembley watching Dennis Tueart's wonderful overhead kick winning goal.
From that moment I wanted nothing more than to be out there in that blue shirt and with the unwavering support of a wonderful family my dream started to take shape. Having played originally for my local cub team as a goalkeeper, I gradulated to Eccles town team under elevens as a right winger, the position in which I would spend the majority of the rest of my footaballing life.
When City came knocking I was just ten and that moment remains the most vivid memory of my life. Associated schoolboy forms followed and then in 1984 I became one of Manchester City's first group of 'Youth Training Scheme' (YTS) apprentices on £27 per week !
The next two years of hard work culminated in us winning the F.A. Youth Cup with a 3-1 aggregate win against local rivals United. Many of that squad went on to represent City at first team level and five of us (myself, Paul Lake, Andy Hinchcliffe, Steve Redmond and Ian Brightwell) represented England at Under 21 level.
There followed a wonderful time for me at Maine Road with many ups and downs. Relegation in my first season, a hatrick in an incredible 10-1 win against Huddersfield in my second and promotion in my third.
I played my part in the memorable 5-1 win against United in 1989 and in a 0-6 drubbing by Derby just a few weeks later !
Four goals against Liverpool in one season and four more against Aston Villa in one game were other highlights that led to my one and only England cap in Santander, Spain in September 1992. Another dream achieved but sadly one I was unable to build upon.
I left Maine Road in December 1993 totally disiillusioned by the way the club was being run and totally unaware how damaged my troublesome right ankle was. I managed another 100 appearances and thirty goals in spells at Leeds United and Sheffield United but in the summer of 1998, having had four ankle operations in as many years had no option but to succumb to the pain and hang up my boots......
And this is now.......
Having spent the best part of fifteen years working in the waste industry I was somewhat forced into another career change in 2015 ! There will be a time and place for me to tell that story but it isn't just now.
Difficult times inevitably followed and it took time for myself and my family to make the decisions we needed to make in terms of career paths but I am very happy with the choices we have made.
Travel has always been a passion and in the good times I was fortunate enough to enjoy many great holidays, particularly to Orlando and on cruises. At 'Living It Travel' we now have the wonderful task of sourcing and designing incredible travel experiences for our clients from couples to large corporate groups. Travel is an industry I wish I entered twenty years ago. We are a totally independent supplier with ABTA bonding and all travel arrangements involving air come with ATOL financial protection.
Corporate hospitality and sporting events go hand in hand with the travel industry in terms of client base and again this again is something I am delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in with 'Living It Events'.
My love of City remains and I am now able to give more time to media work as the game grows bigger and bigger and City's global brand grows.
Whilst not an a traditional after dinner speaker I love to attend corporate events as a host or guest and enjoy nothing more than talking about all things football with parties of whatever size. Some of the most successful and beneficial functions are of a smaller nature where discussions and 'q & a' sessions are on a much more personal level. I like nothing more than guesting at a pre match meal in town with a corporate host and maybe three of their clients and then accompanying them to the game. This more intimate hospitality can often prove infinitely more cost effective than traditional methods.
I hold regular city centre lunches with former playing colleagues for corporate groups of no more than thirty which have become very popular and commercially beneficial to clients. These can be exclusive to one company or for a maximum of five tables of six people. These events take the form of a really informal group 'q&a' session with all guests having the opportunity to take an active part. And there will always be a quiz of some kind ! I like my quizzes !
Safeguarding is now a major part of my life. Through our not for profit company 'SAVE' and our safeguarding training and consultancy company 'i 7 solutions' we engage with anybody and everybody who takes safeguarding as seriously as we do, particularly in sport.
My autobiography 'Shades of Blue' expertly co written by Jo Lake charts my career and the devastating effects my childhood abuse had on it. You can order personally signed copies through the site.
I live with my wonderful, beautiful wife Emma and three of my kids, Jordan, India and Mali. You may rememeber my eldest child Sam was born on Derby day in April 1992 just four hours before the game ! Georgia was born the following year just weeks before we left for Yorkshire. So that's five great kids spanning twenty years and yes the girls are all named after countries...