Wednesday, 23 May 2012


People often say you should never meet your heroes, for fear that you can only be disappointed. Often that's true - but not on this occasion. Admittedly, I can't claim to have met Ian Selley when we held this conversation on opposite sides of the world (before he jetted off to Barbados for an exhibition tournament - alright for some). But his honest answers to my questions epitomised the player I so vividly remember going into battle for Woking time after time, seemingly channelling the passion from the terraces straight into his bone-crunching tackles.

For all his midfield mettle, Selley was something of a set-piece specialist. Corners, free-kicks, penalties, he did it all - and he did it well. Before coming to Kingfield, he'd featured fleetingly for Southend, Fulham and Wimbledon. After four seasons in GU22, he drifted between non-league clubs. Havant & Waterlooville. Maidstone United. Croydon Athletic. And there were others.

But Selley will be remembered as a midfield maestro in red and white. Not only the heartbeat of the Woking side which 'had its moments' during my university years, but also the youngest player on the pitch when Arsenal beat holders Parma to lift the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1994. Did I never mention that?

What's your earliest memory of football?

In the garden with my older brother playing football. I must have been five.

Do you remember the first game you got taken to as a kid?

It was Liverpool in the FA Cup Final at Wembley. Dad worked for Crown Paints and won tickets, met Phil Neal before the game, year?!?!?!

Could it have been Liverpool v Everton 1986? Ian Rush got a brace that day and Gary Lineker scored for the Toffees.

Yes, that's the one. I was 12.

Not a bad way to start. If you took over from Sepp Blatter as Fifa president, what's the first thing you would change?

Goal line technology. It's really cost clubs and national teams in the last few years. As long as the decision is instant, bring it in.

A big chunk of your career was spent at Woking. How do you look back on your time at Kingfield?

Probably the most enjoyable time I've had in the game. Great people, players that socialised most weekends. It's great they've gone up. I'm hoping they will do an Aldershot. I'm academy coach there now and it's still the same. Fantastic club.

Any stand-out games from your days in the red and white halves?

A couple of Stevenage games probably. Beating them at their place, Luke Oliver scored. And beating them at our place, I scored a penalty. Graham Westley hated me because I said I would sign for them and Woking came in as I was going to leave and sign a contract, so there was added spice against them. He rang me and went crazy down the phone, he was not happy.

Those Woking-Stevenage games meant a lot to the fans. Did the intensity really translate onto the pitch as well?

Yes, definitely. The lads knew what was at stake. The team we had was very close, I miss those days!!!

Who are your best friends in football?

Ryan Northmore, Gary MacDonald and Neil Smith. I've met some good people but am in contact with these boys most.

If you could live/play anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Before I signed at Woking, I was offered to play at Charleston Battery with Terry Phelan in America, but turned it down. I would say England but the weather's terrible. I would love to have gone to America, a couple of seasons, I still may with the coaching.

How hot do you have your chicken at Nando's?

I'm all over the HOT piri piri, but will down two wheelbarrows full of free refill cola.

Who's the best manager you've played for and why?

For me, George Graham. He gave me my chance as a kid and had a way of playing that was effective. Arsene Wenger's training was fantastic, always involved a ball.

What memories do you have of 4 May 1994, the European Cup Winners' Cup final?

I don't think I've ever been that pumped up. I would have run through a brick wall before the game. It was a blur really, so tired when final whistle went. But when the fans were singing at the end I, will never forget that. Massive underdogs, on the dazzle for a few days after. We played at Newcastle three days later, last game of season and got battered, think everyone was still hungover!

You've moved around the non-league circuit a fair bit since leaving Woking. Where have you felt most at home in that time?

Woking was definitely my favourite place. I had a great time at Havant & Waterlooville also. I always vetted clubs before I signed, some clubs are not run the right way.

What's the toughest place you've visited as an away player during your career?

Paris St Germain was a great place to play, but I remember going to play a European game in Cyprus, very hostile. I think we won but as we were leaving we got attacked on the coach. All the window were smashing around us and the driver kept stalling. They were trying to get on it and the lads were keeping the front and back doors shut but there was glass smashing all over the place, pretty scary it was. Paul Merson stuck his finger up, which probably wasn't his greatest moment, but we got home safely so it's a story to tell the kids!!

How did it feel to see one of your former clubs, Croydon Athletic, go out of business?

Croydon was a real shame as it was a real nice club, again nice people (I thought), but I really settled there. The wife was invited to games and the board really looked after us, but something was not right. They were paying good money and the crowds were awful, it didn't add up. It's strange how you get friendly with people and when things came out it was a massive shock. Cricket match-fixing, the owner, chairman fraud, new chairman shot himself in his garage, real shame, was gutted when we found out. Hopefully the club can reform and start again.

Who are the best players you've played with and against?

Best player with: Dennis Bergkamp. In training he was brilliant, nice fella, worked really hard on his game. Best opponent: Gianfranco Zola, played against him twice. Again fantastic, couldn't get near him. I'm travelling to the Barbados Legends tournament on Wednesday [May 23] to play, and he's playing, so I'll see if I can get near him then. Should be a good trip..

What does the future hold? Where will you be playing next season and how many more years have you got left in the tank?

I see myself coaching mainly, Woking academy, Kingstonian academy. I'm looking for a manager's position, had a few interviews so I'll wait and see. America and Australia are also good options, we're in a good position to take on something abroad so I'm getting busy having a look and hopefully may get an opportunity. I'm ready for a challenge, so fingers crossed.

One last question. What is your Twitter profile pic all about?

That pic was taken at Gary MacDonald's birthday party. I was supposed to look like Jimmy Saville!!!! It was a while ago... needs to be changed.

You can follow @Ian_Selley and @BarbadosLegends on Twitter

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