Exclusive Interview: Steve Hodge - Former England Footballer
Steve Hodge was one of the finest English midfielders of his generation. One of Nottingham Forest’s most celebrated players, enjoying two stints at the club, he also represented his country, famously setting up the great Diego Maradona to score the infamous 'Hand of God' goal at the Mexico 1980 World Cup, an experience he frequently talks about at public and virtual events. He also often explains why he thinks it takes a great deal of mental strength to succeed as a player in the modern game.
In this revealing interview with our Director, Jack Hayes, Steve talks about what it was like to play against Maradona, why he thinks Brian Clough was the best coach in England and how to make it as a professional footballer. If you want to entertain your audience with stories about playing against one of the beautiful games’ greatest ever players, get in touch with a member of our team to discuss booking Steve Hodge for your virtual webinar, conventional event or private corporate workshop.
Q: What Are Your Career Highlights?
"I’m a baby of the 60s so I can remember watching the 1970 World Cup - watching the Brazilian team be brilliant and being wowed by them. So, to see a World Cup and then to eventually play in one yourself, probably will be the highlight of my career, because I was eight watching them in Mexico City and then I was playing them myself 16 years later."
Q: Who Was The Best Player You Ever Faced?
"People who know me will probably know who I’m going to say. I’ll try and elaborate a little bit on how good Maradona was. I played against Maradona for [Nottingham] Forest in a pre-season friendly at Barcelona in 1984 and we’d heard about him that he was a bit special.
"The pitch was in an absolutely disgraceful state, particularly pre-season and there were mounds everywhere and still lashing down with rain. He came out and obviously he was smaller than me at 5 foot 5 [inches], but built like a tank.
"In the game, we were trying to dribble it through water a little bit or trying to pass it through, he was flicking the ball up like a penguin does and volleying it off everywhere, to the people, and it arrived to the people where it was supposed to go.
"His ball mastery was frightening, I’ve never seen anything like it and it was all left foot. You couldn’t deal with his left foot, it was just too good! It was a wand. Dragging his team to a World Cup final and winning it on his own was something I’ve never seen before and people nowadays talk about Messi and he’s exactly the same. Two peas in a pod in a little country really, in terms of population and it’s a freak they produced two players like that."
Q: What Was It Like Working With Brian Clough?
"He was very clever. His man-management was brilliant. He knew me from a kid and he might have pushed the buttons with me to get me wound up because he knew I was a better player when I was angry and he knew some games pre-season, pre-match, he would say something sarcastic about my gear, my haircut, in a funny way that people would laugh at, that he knew would annoy me.
"And he would remember things like an elephant. Unbelievable elephant’s memory, that he’d remember something he’d said four months before that and he’d bring it up at the right time.
"I’ve seen lots of people squirming in their seats - I was one. At times I’ve seen lots of people being given a one-liner and being totally embarrassed and hurt, and then on other occasions, I’ve seen him swarm other people with so much praise and over the top praise really sometimes, that it was a bit creepy really, a bit weird. Because it was so over the top his praise, but that’s the way he was he was completely black and white.
"His teams always won. In general, his teams were always in the headlines, so if you were doing well and Nottingham Forest, then, in general, you were being talked about by the Press and by the TV and he would make sure that if he wanted you in the England squad and thought you deserved it he could push your case. He was a very, very powerful man and for 20 years he ruled the roost."
Q: How Do You Make It As A Footballer?
"You have to sink everything into it, otherwise you won’t survive. You have to be physically strong now even if you are smallish, you have to be able to deal with - the game has gone big and gone wide and gone technical. So if you aren’t big and technical and mentally strong then you won’t survive."
Book Steve Hodge
To book Steve Hodge as the speaker for your corporate event, sportsman dinner or other function, please get in touch with us by filling in our online contact form or giving us a call directly on 0207 1010 553.
Jack Hayes was appointed Director of the Champions Speakers agency in 2012 becoming one of the youngest Directors in the UK. A year later, Jack became a founding member of the European Association of Speakers Bureaux (EASB) collaborating with speaker... Read more
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