Robert Green is not your mate.
What he said:
“People see you in the street, especially fans of your club, and because you’re on the pitch and they see you every week, they think you’re their mate. To me it is a stranger in the street. I’ve been playing football for 18 years and it still surprises me when people come and speak to me. My mates have said I’ll come across as rude and arrogant. It’s not like that. But it’s that initial: ‘Oh, Christ, what do you want me to say?’”
Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Robert Green is quite certain that television and fame may make you everybody’s bosom pal but it does not make them yours.
Green is not quite keen on becoming a coach-manager and would prefer to play ball in the boardroom instead.
“Eventually I’d like to have some sort of role like a chief executive in a football club.”
Green is pursuing a BA (Hons) in business management (sports and football) from the Open University.
“The speed of how football changes is so fast that to finish playing and still to be able to relate to 18-, 19-, 20-year-old lads, enough for them to like you, to run around for you, is probably beyond my limitations as a person. I think if I want to stay in football then this would be the path that I need to take rather than the coaching side.”
On his first course workshop:
“I sat down at the workshop with the tutor and six or seven other lads who are all football fans and I thought: ‘Hold on a minute, I’ve got half a chance here because I know the outside view is so different to what is going on on the inside.’
I think to be a fan and take over a football club would be great but you’re going to lose your money and you’re going to have a rollercoaster of a ride doing it. So to have someone [working for you] who’s been in that rollercoaster all their life and realises how good clubs operate …
A great model for me is West Brom. When I first started playing at Norwich, West Brom were in the Championship, got promoted, got relegated, got promoted, got relegated, and all the time they were building until they eventually stayed up. The dangerous point is when you try and make those steps like Leeds did by buying all those players in the late 90s and early 2000s, living beyond their means, and that’s when the problems occur.”
Green takes his goalkeeping seriously but does not bring work home.
“I think it’s a self-preservation thing more than anything. I think as a youngster I took myself far too seriously. Now, with experience maybe, having good times, bad times, you think: ’Are you prepared physically and mentally for a game? Yes. Have I done everything I can this week to make myself as good as I can be for this game? Yes. Am I going to try my utmost in this game? Yes.’ Right, that’s all you can do. Could I stop Oscar’s shot in the game at Stamford Bridge? No, because I’d need a four metre extension on my arm.’ It’s managing your own expectations.
If you walked into my house there wouldn’t be one thing to do with football in there. You see people with a room full of their career achievements. Brilliant. Well done. That’s just not something I do. They’re in a bin bag in my mum and dad’s loft. And if I go out, I’ve got the same mates from the Sunday football team when I was a kid. That doesn’t change. They probably hammer me as much as anybody, saying: ‘He’s an oddball.’”
On the infamous lapse that handed the US a 1-1 draw in the 2010 World Cup, how he handles opposition fans and whether his career will be forever defined by that moment:
“I just turn around and give them (hecklers) a yawn sign. It’s something that happened two tournaments ago. We drew the game. We didn’t lose the opening game of the World Cup.
If that happens, fair enough. You can’t argue with apathy. People can say what they want, do what they want, realistically it’s not something that’s going to affect my life.
I actually think it’s going to be good for my children. They are going to ask me one day about it, because some kid is going to Google it and hammer them at school. So it’s a great lesson that you can put everything you can into something for all your life and it’s not always beautiful at the end of it.”
What Green really meant:
“Hey man, it’s called information asymmetry. You know all about me but I know nothing about you. Would you like a stranger chatting you up, in a familiar manner? Would ya, really? Sure, it’s a hazard of fame but don’t let it go to your head.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’m the friendliest bloke around. Let’s have a pint of lager anytime.”