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This is the BBC. This podcast is supported by advertising outside the UK. BBC sounds, music, radio, podcasts, that was I switched my phone on Silent. Hello, I'm Louis Theroux and welcome to my podcast series for BBC Radio four Grounded with Louis, through which I get to talk to people who like me are locked down and confined to the home. People I'm curious to meet and who seem to be keen or at least willing to meet me.
I'm with the big band.
This is the boss. I'm just an additional piece of flattery already. Usually have to wait around for that. Only now we meet remotely using video conferencing software.
Each of us recording our halves of the conversation. Once were already mistaken mistake, asking anyone if they wanted to tell you the whole house said yes.
My guest today is Troy Deeney, the talismanic captain of Watford Football Club, an outspoken player advocate who is utterly unafraid to speak his mind like the rest of the Premier League, this season came to an abrupt halt with covid.
We recorded this program earlier in the lockdown. OK, full disclosure, I hope this isn't going to make things awkward between us. I don't know very much about football, like I enjoy watching it. I grew up in South London. I was at primary school. Chelsea was the team to follow. I used to pretend that I knew what I was talking about and say things like, Oh, Peter, burnetii are amazing.
Yes, although he didn't play for Chelsea, obviously, because my dad's American, it wasn't really passed on as part of my cultural inheritance. Mm hmm.
This is a very long winded way of saying forgive me, first of all, for the level of ignorance that you may even find surprising at times shouldn't in any way be construed as insulting. But second of all, I think it's a way of also setting up the fact that we're going to have a free ranging conversation that I'm hoping we can bring my audience, many of whom are also a non football focused people, yet bring them with a little bit.
Sorry, but I don't normally go on at that much length at the beginning again.
Full disclosure, I really don't mind it. I trust myself as a human being and as a partner and a father and then a footballer is my job so that your job is reporting. I don't take it home with me as much as I used to. I fully expect this conversation to go left, right and a few donuts. Before I go back to the original point.
The donuts will go well with the T.
You know, one of the funny things about football, unlike, thankfully being a documentary maker or a journalist, is you actually get ranked. I don't know how scientifically, but you can look on Pfieffer where every player has a ranking.
Right? I mean, you must know that you play for my kids play FIFA.
That's why I know this now. My kids play for I don't play FIFA, FIFA, the video game.
You play with the different players, the real life players, obviously. And so your top player in the world is Messi. Lionel Messi is on 94, OK, Kane is on eighty nine. Cen is eighty seven. I'm only bringing this up because I imagined you might already know. Do you know what your ranking is.
You must know based off that I'm going to say mid seventies. Seventy seven. Well, that's not bad. Yes. I'm surprised you don't know. I imagine that if I were in your shoes, I mean, I'm someone who Googles himself from time to time, especially when I've had a couple of drinks. So the idea of, hey, we can actually get it, pick a number out of 100 to decide how good you are.
I would find it hard to resist in my younger days and certainly would have done that. But then, I mean, even when you do great, you're still not going to please everybody. I understand what you say. And I do look at all the comments. I'm not going to lie. I'll read what people are saying. But if I've done an interview, for example, generally I'm trying to make sure that in my house this is the most important thing.
And what people think of me in my house is more important than what somebody does. Make it a rankins of a fee for what is going off analytics that can be definitely made to look better depending on whatever my my son, if he wasn't doing his schoolwork, I could bring him in and he can break it down to an absolute t about everything we pfieffer is costing me enough money to his fee for things anywhere to enact purchases or we're part of the PlayStation Club or whatever it is.
You pay a monthly fee and not only the subscription, then you have to buy packs for everything. I'd say once a week. He needs a pound for his six pounds for that. And you sign that off no, nine times out.
And I get a text saying you've just spent a pound on an Xbox.
Mine is big on. I don't even know if I can say this because it makes me sound like a negligent parent. One of my children is big into call of duty of yours. Got into that at all.
Yeah, my oldest is ten. He was said to be 11. So he gets to play but he can't play online.
My 12 year old is into it. I have a horrible feeling it might be an 18 game. I mean, those video game ratings I tend to think are a bit more nebulous then. It's not like seeing a horror film.
Right, exactly. But I remember I think it was it. I think it's a 50. Is it? Yeah, sure it is. And that's grotesque. It's a bit more weird, isn't it? I do think it's all down to the parents, though. I think the level of exposure we give our children is solely up to you. I think nobody should be able to tell you how to look after your kids and raise them in a way that you see fit.
I do think there's a little bit of we're trying to shelter them from a world that is unforgiving and unfair and try to make everything about participation.
I know what you're talking about. I think parenting is hard with the wealth of things that the kids can get involved in. The world reaches into your home now, right? In all kinds of ways.
Some positive when my kids game there in wherever there is call of Duty Land or Red Dead Redemption Land. But talking to their friends in the real world, laughing, shouting, joking, crying, occasionally, that's really the only way they can socialize meaningfully. But that's covid world for you.
You were saying earlier that you do read the comments.
I think you said that in any article, if you go to the end, will always be like a comment section. Sometimes you see people say, well, it does have a point. I understand what they say in that, or people might just go, I just hate him, just like that's fair as well. So it just gives me balance of perspective on if I'm talking sense, really.
Do you go on Twitter or Instagram to see what people are saying about, you know, people's opinion, especially in this covid world, is very much. That they're seeking attention, so a lot of things are said to get a reaction to basically make their day a bit more entertaining. My partner posted a picture yesterday, got this new Polaroid up and basically take a picture onto this thing. And it comes out as a Polaroid we just got to put out there.
Oh, thank you very much. Support our great nation for millions of kids, like six messages confirmed, just absolutely hamrin. And she's like, oh, my God, I've been hammering her.
For what? Being with me. You're ugly. You're this you're that, you know, for taking the product from Polaroid just for random just random trolling.
Yeah. And it is that it's we're bored. We're not happy with our inner self. So we've got a project that until you and hopefully you give some negativity back.
That's depressing, isn't it? One of the things I only recently discovered was the extent to which social media and Instagram in particular runs on football. The three of the top ten Instagram ads in the world are footballers.
But I guess now Neymar. Messi. Yeah, exactly.
With the number one being Ronaldo.
I him a lot of pictures of his abs, very good abs as well. So I think maybe if I could dedicate myself to that, I'd definitely pass a few more AB pictures.
It's impressive. Do you follow Messi?
No, I do. Yes, I do. Yes. I'm more of a Renaldo than Messi, the one that's interesting. Unpack that just because of it.
We saw the evolution of Ronaldo when he came to Monday night as a skinny teenager to see the development. And I think he was quite quick on social media. So he's kind of documented his life more. I feel like Messi is not that interested in it, whereas Leonardo is very much a documentation. Every day he's doing workouts and showing you like, look, this is what I'm doing, what I do.
And again, this is a very personal and actually uninformed reaction. But Ronaldo projects a certain and this is in no way impugning the skills which speak for themselves, narcissism and a sense of almost a preening quality, whether it's accurate or not. With Messi, you tend to feel that maybe because he just doesn't speak that much. But there's a little bit of humility. Plus, he's smaller and he obviously doesn't have those matinee idol looks.
So he darts around and you think, oh, he's the humble bloke who just sparkles on the pitch and gets on with it and doesn't think he's God's gift.
Yeah, but I think to be the elite, they absolutely creme de la creme in any world, there has to be a level of narcissism, as you call it, but self belief, unwavering desire to do what you want to do in your way, ruthlessness, a little bit of ruthlessness, 100 percent.
And we're all selfish in some aspect. Again, if you're doing your documentaries, you go away for a large period of time. Your kids, in times of conformity around, say that you've been selfish because I needed you in that moment.
You've been talking to my wife, haven't you know, I just get it.
I think what's never projected to the public is they always see your documents at the end of it. This is the finished article. This is what it is. They'll never see the processes of what goes through to make it even in this moment. You know, I'm locked in the house. I should be able to see my kids and my is every minute of every day. But yesterday I was on calls from nine until 5pm. Alongside that, I've got to a train, go walk the dog.
And even now I'm in the house. I am here. I'm in touching distance. I'm not actually spending the quality time the kids probably need.
I want to come on and talk about lockdown and how difficult that can be. But just to finish up on social media, to what extent in the world of football is social media and Twitter and Instagram in the hands of the players? And how much influence do the clubs and the managers and the agents have over that?
Clubs have guidelines. You could say this. You can't say that. You can process. You can't post that. And you will get a level of you post to highlight this, a boost our brand. Well, let's call it it's a market or because brands and companies are now saying we can pay Ranaudo this much. He has a billion followers. We only need to hit that percentage of target audience. So that's what we'll get back and we'll make our money back on it.
So he has become a marketing tool.
I don't use Instagram very much. And in general, I've tended to resist playing the same game. Not absolutely like I'm not precious about it. But, you know, I don't tend to go out to premieres and I try to avoid overdoing, you know, exposure of my personal life. But I began during lockdown, especially using Instagram more and posting pictures of myself making food. And I did a lot of posts of me making vegetarian lasagnas. And then I found that I started getting free product.
Not a lot, but people began to say, like, I see you've been cooking a lot. Would you like to try out our cooking utensil? And we'd love to send you one. It's oddly beguiling. Because you're giving something quite cool, free, and then you think, oh, well, I better post about it and then you think, do I look like a complete tart?
Yeah, is that and the is, as you say, a little bit of narcissism that we believe it comes from your upbringing as well. So if you're used to nice things as a doctoring in having nice things is normal, so you don't really post about it. If you're from a place of not having nice things, you are very much inclined when you get those things to go look, look how great I'm doing.
Which, by the way, explains 75 percent of rap music videos, you know, The World of Belayer, which some people have a problem with as vulgarity and ostentation. I just see a huge amount of pain behind 100 percent or deprivation.
You know, a world in which holding up a huge wedge of dollar bills or hundred dollar bills like a block is part of the grammar of the videos. To me that says we are people for whom that means an enormous amount because of everything we've had to struggle through to get here.
But with your American heritage, you'll understand that we take for granted and it's perfect at this time, the NHS, for example. So if we get sick, we could just walk up to a hospital and say, can you please look at me? And in an hour, a few hours, you get treated. If you're sick in America, every process of that, you have to pay for it. That's right.
There are programs that exist for the indigent. What's striking in the American context is the way in which the extremely poor do tend to get looked after. But there's a tranche of the middle class and lower middle class who are neither poor enough to qualify for free medical care nor rich enough to be able to truly afford good care. They're the ones who get the most squeezed.
Do you again, you're meant to be interviewing me here, but instead it's a big conversation, so I apologize for doing it wrong. But you look at things in the UK then, for example, benefit cheats and things of that nature. We're not poor enough to get this category of looking after what are also working on lots of pot. We're not rich enough to be getting that level. Does that frustrate you more?
I tend to think that insofar as there are benefit cheats, obviously that's frustrating. But I'm also aware of the way in which the media invites us to hate and become angry about relatively low level scams and demonize those people as though that's our real problem. Whereas I think often times they're a convenient punching bag for frustrated people. We're getting at a moment of says footballers.
Well, I was going to say so. Let's talk about this from following your interviews on social media. I get the feeling that you're somebody who sticks up for the players. You should see players being in different ways, held to a different standard, 100 percent, 100 percent, because first, simple as what you said, a very stylish interview. You didn't really know footballers, but everyone in the playground puts a player on a pedestal. But he's a professional footballer.
He's already a role model. You have this responsibility, that young man, and we are young men. So I'm one of the older statesmen. I'm 31 years old in a normal line of work. I should just be getting myself together. I should be stopped doing the job for holidays. And it's about time we bought a house there. Where is thirty one? I'm probably coming to the end of my career transitioning into what do I want to do afterwards.
We put a huge expectation on a young person who has probably no guidance of money, I think is 60 odd percent of players are from low income housing are in the Premier League. And you look at foreign players as well as some that have come from Africa, real troubled backgrounds. Rengo, by the way, here is X amount of money per week at Responsable.
With that, by the way, did I hear a baby in the background?
Sorry, my son's kicking off. Yeah. Is everything alright with the baby?
If you need to wrangle, the baby is by the early cries for two things. If he's hungry and if he's hungry, I think he's just had the ball put in his mouth and that's why he's.
How old is he is four months old. Oh my goodness. Yeah, it was a good idea actually. He came and now it's. Ah, what's a good night's sleep again.
Are you pitching in. Are you being an active. Yeah. Yeah. Especially now in this time when I don't have to go for work etc. so I try my best to be as active as I can.
How is he at night. There's going to be people that are going to be going, oh god, he goes to bed at maybe ten, ten, thirty. And then he woke up at seven minutes past seven today for a bowl and then he woke back up eleven. That's good.
Going in four months. That's pretty spectacular. Is a creature of habit as well. You've been there before. Now you've got two older children. So you'll know everything happens in phases. We're waiting for it. We're waiting for the terrible twos, all of that.
No one's terrible. Three's terrible for it. They all have their troubles.
But you were saying about money. Let's get real for a second. I wouldn't normally do this anyway. It feels quite unfair to do this because most people's salaries aren't public domain, but for some reason.
Well, I suppose because the salaries are high, footballers salaries are public property, in a way, I looked it up before we changed it. Do you mind me saying what the recorded?
So I know. I know it's wrong. So it's fine.
The Internet tells me PP sixty five thousand pounds a week for trading here is wrong anyway.
But thus far it's much more than that is it.
Much less and parenthetically.
But puts you I suppose, somewhere in the middle regarding the Premier League. Marcus Rashford of Mannu 250000 a week I'm told.
But then let's put it into perspective. So of his 250000, let's work off that one hundred twenty five thousand already go straight. That's gone tax Natalija. It's lost that everybody go Oh well he's got one hundred twenty five thousand pounds. 225 thousand is him. His mom is dad is brothers and sisters. Whole family. Taking care of his earning potential is seven to ten years max with all phases. No one ever turns around and says, well, an actor got paid eight million for that movie.
Let's say he gets a franchise. Maybe they go eight, 12, 15. And if we pick you up for a forfeit, 21 million, no one ever goes. Well, what's he doing with that one? The footballer, it's a very easy target, and this is why I do get frustrated with it, because for a politician in the midst of a pandemic where everybody is uncertain and even me watching the news go in, tell me what's going on.
You decided to say footballers should be doing more when if we took out how much football as just the Premier League took out their tax money? I think it worked out so this year, 4.5 billion. You've already got that money on top of that.
We all have charities. We all have foundations will give to people. And on top of that, we still made a donation.
And then afterwards, when it was put to him by Piers Morgan, who I'm not a big fan of Piers Morgan, if I'm honest. He then put it to them and said by the Premier League, you've done it now, what are you going to do? We're going to work harder. No one's questioning him. No one said is up, is that OK? Why have we time for all of that when we're not going to give any money?
We just got to work harder. It's a shambles. It is actually embarrassing. Who did?
I don't think I saw this. Who did Piers Morgan say that to? Matt Hancock, the health secretary. Yeah, because he was the one who came out and called on Premier League players to give more when give more meaning.
What was Matt Hancock appealing for? He kind of said that many players need to do more and give more to help the NHS. But that's gone away now because it's kind of like a sound bite and that's it.
Just to broaden out the point now and take it beyond the pandemic, the idea that people are hitting their peak earning potential in the ages from, you know, 18 or even sometimes 17, even 16 through to 30 or 35, if they're lucky. Right. And it's a time when most people are still kind of trying to get their head on straight. Your brain is not fully developed. So they say, you know, you people in the early 20s are kind of rash and headstrong and people are isolating you and blowing smoke up your ass, as they say in America.
I can imagine that would be an extremely strange and difficult situation in which to make the best decisions. Is that something you see? It's something I've lived.
I have lived it because I come from low income housing, mom working three jobs that in and out of jail. That's why I lived. And I went from literally earning 180 pound a week as a builder to go to Watford on five and a half grand a week, plus getting to sign an unfair my life just went in my social standing at home. I went from being just Troy to the main provider, the whole family. You know, my parents massively tried their best to tell me what to do and how to guide me, but it was unknown to them, you know, in our family only my nana owned a home at that time.
In my upbringing, to be successful, you have to have a home, have a car and be able to put food on the table every day. That was our version of success was and at the time, 21 they had to do. I didn't finish school, so I didn't have no business savvy. I didn't have any financial restraints. Have I put this much away? There is much about there. I didn't own my first pair of football boots until my mom bought them me out of a catalog.
You know, when you could pay back weekly figures for catalog. Actually, I didn't know until I was 18, 19 then. I want all the trainers. I want all the hoodies I could never forget. And you end up just wasting a shitload of money until, thankfully for me, live here at home being in terms of going to jail. And that made me go away. I actually have hardly anything in terms of savings here. I need to figure this out.
And that's that's kind of what I've done ever since.
You mentioned your upbringing. You grew up in Chomsky. Would you describe what that was like? Well, it was one of the biggest camps of the states in Europe up until mid eighties. For me, it was good. It was it was a solid upbringing, a very big sense of community in terms of everybody had very little and we all shared what we had. And I lived there until I was 23, 24.
And it's nine miles from Birmingham City Center. Housing estate maybe gives the wrong impression because from what I understand, it's almost like its own little community with shops and a park. And it's so self-sufficient, slightly utopian entity that was built with a lot of idealism in maybe the seventies.
Yeah, it was based a of what obviously what the Germans did in terms of the building blocks and things were building blocks and people were segmented like that. Birmingham was originally built. But Shamsie, which is more where they pushed the lower income people.
Do you think it was a poverty, social cleansing? Yeah, push 100 percent.
As you say, we had our own town center, but we didn't have Debenhams and things like that. There you had a Woolworth's, a quick save and Iceland. Try to think of shops. I remember.
I think they're trying to smarten it up at the moment. It sounds a bit like I lived in Holland until recently and it was the same basic profile of shops when I moved in. It was like, oh wow, we've got a department store. That's exciting.
Yeah, we got Gregs just before I moved out. We got a great sense for all breaks. The baker we're going up in the world.
When Costa moved in, I was like, oh my God, Costa, we really have arrived in the sun filled uplands of bourgeoisie.
I haven't been back in about six months, but that definitely wasn't a cost that we've got a subway now. So we'll get in there.
We're getting a little off track of the fast food on of the subway is my go to choice.
Actually, you can get a decent sandwich at the subway. Is this your advert? You're not there on Instagram? No, no. I was going to say, like, they'll be contacting me on Instagram. I'll be very happy to receive any reasonable offers.
We're going to see a post of you like this.
It's not it's a very undignified look, isn't it? Sometimes you see people shilling for products. You just think, oh, that's not helping your brand at all. But what would your.
So does your mom still live up in Hollywood? No, my brother does. I've been fortunate enough to move my mom out of there, but my brother lives in the house that we grew up in, so thankfully managed to buy. That was twenty three, 24. That was the first house that I bought and my brothers just stayed there and is looking to move out probably next year.
You said your mom worked three jobs, is that right. What kind of thing.
Anything pops cleaning Ladbrokes. The three jobs is more high end towards Christmas. A lot of it was done through. I don't know whether people would notice, but there's like a scheme where you pay all year round and then like start December, you would get like food coupons essentially to go and get your big Christmas shop. And then you would get like vouchers to use our gas and places like this. So she did a lot of that. Any job, anything that could really pay you would do to make sure that we was always keeping our head above water.
And did you manage, for the most part to keep your heads above water?
Again, we wasn't poor in the sense of we couldn't get shoes. I said this to my partner, who is from like a middle class background, and I said, we just have to pay for our TV. So we had a TV. We were like a pound slut thing on the side and give you like three hours worth of TV. Every time it ran out, you put another pound in and essentially that paid the TV off. Seriously? Yeah, that's how we did it as kids.
And we that to us was normal.
The pound coin would go into the TV set. So that's the TV set then. It's like a box on the side. It it like triggered a power for essentially over the course of a week, let's say that was forty pounds, say someone to by the end of the week collect it, say right. You paid time off the TV and ten pound was interest to them.
I've never heard of that. I've heard of people paying for their electricity more or less like that. Yeah, we had that as well. So gas and electric was on a meter. You didn't get a PlayStation or a console. Till we were I want to say, 14, 13, 14, and that was the Nintendo 64. I remember that for Christmas at our house got broken into a box and then we lost that. Seriously? Yeah. Did they catch whoever did it?
My dad did. Caught the person, the two people that did it.
What ensued from that night that I was never told that story.
Snitches get stitches. Something something like that of the young man. I wouldn't know.
He believed in his own law, did he? He didn't really care to get the authorities involved. He thought he was better equipped to sort the situation out. Well, yeah, the only time the authorities ever got involved with my dad was when they were coming to take him. That was it. I remember I was in a flat. I want to say I was about eight and my brother would have been about five. And we have both beds in our flat is a really narrow corridor that, like each room kind of come off the side of it.
It must be at about seven, eight o'clock and you just heard a big boom. But the door just come off and we've kind of sat up. But as I've looked down like four police officers wrestling with my dad and my dad literally midway through. And don't worry, boys, that just play with his may go back to sleep. Oh, my goodness. They picked him up, carried him off, and then he came back like four days later, had been questioned and stuff things like that happened so regularly for us that we kind of went OK, went back to bed, got my word that I had gone out with his mates, OK?
And my mom was an angel in terms of keeping us away from what was the reality of it. It was always that's just gone on holiday. It was never a case of understanding it until I got eighteen. I was like, Dad, you want to go on holiday with me? I never had a passport on holiday, but when we were young, he was always on holiday. No, no, I was in jail then. Oh, then you ask the questions and you understand what it was all about.
So, yeah, just just a little it isn't it really?
Troy's father, as it turned out, was a drug dealer.
In fact, Troy's made no secret of in interviews I wanted to explore what impact his father's lifestyle had on the development of a young Deani and his siblings and how it affected their relationship.
OK, I talk from my take. I think if you ask my brothers and sister, they would have a completely different interpretation of that. But my take on it is very much I try and see the good in everything. So I know my dad again dead now, obviously, but it didn't get up and go right today. I'm going to go and do these different types of crimes just because I think it's fun. But that did everything to do what I thought would provide for us.
Now, in hindsight, absolutely no need for it because things worked out anyway.
How did your parents meet you?
No, no. Never asked my dad or talk about is not my biological dad. My biological dad left me and my mom from birth. Really? What happened to him, do you know, is around? I don't speak to him. I'll reach out for him. He decided to ditch me so I wasn't good enough then. I'm certainly not good enough now.
Well, I imagine you're more than good enough, but perhaps he's not good enough for you. And I don't mean is a judgement. I can't change someone's actions.
Has he caused me pain over the years? 100 percent. Because as I spoke to psychologists about the impact of how that has impacted my life in regards to my children, in regards to why I used to drink so much. Yeah, the small aspect of that which we could all trace back to. But I've not only done well for myself, but my family have prospered and I will never discredit my dad in terms of picking up 12 from 18 months, raising him as his own, the birth dad, for want of a better term.
Do you know what was his heritage to make in English? He just didn't stick around. But your dad, the man you called your dad and who raised you, how much can you say about him? He was a bit of everything. You couldn't go. He was specific. He'd just done this. He did anything. Did he have a job? Because a lot of people who deal drugs, they also do other things right now. My dad worked, but he was like a salesman.
So we do things for like cash in and work and sell sky, for example. We don't see the middle of the shopping centre selling guy.
It do little bits like that, but he'd never hold down a long term job because you just if the money was too slow or just didn't fulfill his needs, it sounds like maybe your dad wasn't dealing either enough drugs or the right kind of drugs based on the income he was bringing.
He did trust me, he did enough. But also as well, he was taking enough drugs as well, not like he was a drug addict. We take some of his own and enjoys weekends. But my dad was all of our reputation. So you heard his name and you said his name. He just had to hold it at a high level of respect. That's kind of what he did more than the money. Never. You'd always have enough.
But he never wanted to. That's why a lot of his friends were very rich individuals. Now, you took your mum's last name, Deenie. Yeah, he made a mistake that. Why? Because of how much trouble was attached to his last name. What was his last name? Buck. But everyone knew him as Baqi Paul Burke. He wouldn't let you say forwork yet to say if you said his full name is Paul Anthony Burke and he made sure you said that.
Why did you have to say his middle name as well?
That's how he was. You recorded or you've called it before, and that was it. One or the other. Wow.
He does sound very complex. It was really weird. Is only up until about six months ago, I used to think my dad was six, four, six, five. And my mom was like, you know, only six. Four were exactly the same height. He was never scared of anything. He sounds like an extraordinary person, wouldn't have wanted to go on the wrong side of him. No, but he was some engaging as to what I would say.
That's why he was so good at selling things on the street, because you'd want to talk to him. Boy, that is, you know, when you look at people who have like and it will look in their eye in your like, oh, you know why? Probably some a little switch. And that was it.
And you couldn't stop him and he and your mom had a pretty good relationship.
Yeah. As far as I'm aware, again, I spoke about it briefly, but I'm doing a lot of work of breaking down the layers of me in therapy. Yeah. Just to understand it all, because I do things and I'm like, where did that come from? Emotionally, I'm very detached. And she just, you know, I ask questions. She said, I love lovely man of the individual. But every time you went out, you were worried if he was going to come back.
I can't even imagine what I was like for my mom, to be perfectly honest.
What do you think she meant specifically where we get locked up, where we'd be dead, anything? I just didn't know if he was going to come back. Did he get into scraps? Yeah, one could go as far in his heyday daily. But I'd say weekly. With who? Anyone. Someone who owed him money. Someone who may have owed a friend the money and he would go and get it back for them anyway.
So he was not just supplying a legal product, but also rather pugnacious. Oh, yeah.
You know, who's come in. And he was so blasé about it. It cool. You would say he's come in. So you owed him money or you owed somebody money are going to be at your house in fifteen minutes to collect the money or collect. You wasn't scared of anything. I can see your mind. Go and ask questions. It's fine. OK, we can talk about it all day. What drugs was he dealing. It was very clever.
It is one story I could tell which is actually very funny. So early nineties he was doing a rave and he went and bought twenty paracetamol pots and scratched a piece of him because back in the day some big pay, I scratched them off and sold them as ecstasy. And he said it was funny because people kept coming back to him and he said all they did was having privacy. I think he just loved the both of it, to be perfectly honest with you.
So he dealt paracetamol. I didn't know that market was so lucrative, did a bit of everything, really everything. A little bit of a dull boy of the narcotics trade.
Whatever happened to fall off the back of a lorry?
Oh, yeah, there was always light. We got bikes when I was twelve. We were not really positive. It I think I've been on it for about a week and someone knocked at the door, man and his child, basically someone in my dad had sold drugs to to pay. My dad had stolen his bike and given it to my dad as payment. And I said this kid saw us ride around on his bikes and he said to his dad, That's my bike.
Sorry about ego at the bikes. Back then, we didn't have a bike.
But it's interesting that your dad gave them back again. It wasn't your nasty, vindictive criminal. They could have easily just went, what am I now? Yeah, sure, doc. I think we just like, OK, they had a sense of a certain sense of justice or something.
Yeah. But not with the clientele. The thing with dealing paracetamol as though it was ecstasy, I would have thought professional pride as a drug dealer might make you think I'm for the quality. It's like there's a certain professional profile. So it is true. It was not many people that were selling paracetamol. So it was probably right. Saying that. That's right. It is fine. I've got the best of the best guarantee. You don't wake up with a headache.
Yeah, he may have even saved a life that night and he certainly got rid of a few headaches and ameliorated some some hangovers.
Can you imagine being that guy in the morning when you wake up and you think you've had like a really have enough and you, like, on Broadway to run a marathon?
Oh, my goodness.
It's like this is all things that happened many years ago and he certainly wasn't involved in just for disclaims.
Oh yeah. That goes without saying you were probably just a little slip of a thing out of in four or five.
So when your dad said I'm just playing with my friends and he was being manhandled by police, how old would you have been? And did you buy that? Did you actually believe him?
The other eight? You didn't think?
Oh, it's a bit weird for a grown man to be playing with men dressed as policemen, not because I used to go and watch my dad play Sunday League Football and him and his mates would always end up in fights anyway. And I'm quite a bit like a laugh and go to the pub. And it was just just normal. Like a fight was just a normal thing happened a football pitch, wherever I was up and in the pub, there's always some form of violence around.
So that was very normal.
You've talked about this before, the fact that there came a time when your dad laid hands on your mum and I think on you as well. Yeah. Is that something you're willing to speak on?
Yeah. Can't say elsewhere. And that's exactly what happened. Can you talk about what happened.
Yeah, my mum left, my mum left him. My mum just grew tired of the nonsense essentially to not coming home for three days at a time. Drugs. The lack of steady income, I suppose, the lack of normality at that point, it was me, my brother and my sister. So I think at that point my mom had kind of gone. I don't want to keep bringing the kids up in this. I remember when she left you and you can go, but kids are staying and we live about that for about four or five days before we had enough.
And he just went a car and we then moved in with my grandma and my granddad. For I picture that period is about three months, but I've been told a year your mum's parents yet. And then we got our own place. But when we moved house, my mom didn't want my dad know where we lived. We moved in and then we went to my dad's for the weekend. And as soon as he picked up something right, I remember what it was at 11, slurring his words or he was just angry.
But there was something wasn't right.
And he kept saying to me, where do you live? Where do you live? And I just wouldn't tell him. And my younger brother, he must have been it would have been eight. He tried to show me where he lived because we used to ride our bikes and ride our bikes to buy cars, to run from our house to my aunt's house, to play my cousins. So my brother and I go up there. He do this like we just kind of knew the route, but we could obviously tell you on the road.
And then he ended up going there. He tried to stall out the car. My sister would have been what for mum would have been to try to sort the car, not the doors in my mum's open the door.
And then he just pushed us all in the house and it just persisted till I say to my mum, like, you're going to have me back. And she said, no, we've got to just here. And I just remember, just keep jumping up, get in front and said, don't let my mum let it hit me for me. It mum, I just remember not stay and I'll get in or get back in four again. I'll get back in four.
And thankfully a friend of mine come to knock the door. Is Troy playing out. Just as simple as that. As innocent as that. And my dad basically said get lost and scared the kid to the point where he ran home, got his mum, which is maybe like five doors away. She could hear the commotion, phoned the police. And thankfully, yeah, that probably saved us, to be perfectly honest with you.
He was out of control. It was no, it was definitely on something looking at him that wasn't him. I mean, and the thing I remember the last time he hit me, I remember the police knocking at the door and the guy kind of put his arm through the door, you know, open the door with that.
So he tried to shut the door, please. Officer put his arm through it. I remember, but I just whacking this guy's arm with the door and he just wouldn't move his arm.
And then they must have called response and he just wave after wave after wave of police car coming, I think eventually to get him out. As far as I remember, it was two vans and four police cars together.
But were you in there with him? Yeah, we were still inside the house. So you were effectively hostages at that point?
Yeah, effectively. Never really looked at it like that. But yeah, effectively, that's an extraordinary thing to have experienced.
And what's remarkable to me is that you don't seem to have allowed that to destroy your relationship with your father.
I did. It did for a few years massively. Like I've never forgiven him for it. So I've forgiven him for it. I've never forgotten. It shaped me a lot as well. I remember going to school, someone took me over as kids to try to be funny.
I remember just going, that will never happen to me again. No one will ever bully me. I just remember going in and out of whack. The kid with my hand just punched in. Schools are really bad, but I kind of had that moment when I looked up and I got out of that works. And from that moment I've always had this. I won't let it fester and let people think I would say think I'm weak because we're all weak.
Basically, we just won't let people have the idea and build up the courage to then go. Right. We can attack. If that makes sense, I'll kind of go. Do we have a problem? No. OK, no problem. And I kind of walk away and defuse situations, assertiveness.
People pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to learn that in Scientology, it sounds like you learned it for free or maybe at a different kind of a cost. Certainly wasn't for free.
People always combative. So if you can see my teeth go Jadida.
And that was from that first moment from remember daddy at me. Really? Yeah. I've got all this a line from it. And as a result, I ever get my teeth them. It reminds me every day.
Seriously, why do you need to be reminded every day.
Maybe when I'm older and I'm completely over, I'll probably tell you about as of right now, balance. I'm very fortunate. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm not fortunate, I live in a beautiful home which I've managed to pay. My kids will go to private school. My mom, brothers, sisters, everyone's healthy. On balance, I honestly, genuinely love I struggled with love for a very long time of understanding what love is, how to be OK, I carried shouldered all responsibility for a very long time.
So now these are the reminders that things can happen. Look where you've come from. Look what you've overcome. Don't get too confident that this can't all be taken away from you very quickly.
We started talking about all of this in the context of how much players are paid and the extent to which many of them are not equipped to deal with the sudden onset of fame and wealth because of where they've come from. One of the things that I noticed reading up on you was that actually you weren't the kind of person who sort of set out to play in the premiership who sort of fixated on the idea of not being a top ranked footballer.
You sort of got into it somewhat haphazardly and without sort of maybe clinical focus and ambition that other players might have had.
I basically just played football because I love football. I was always pretty good at it for my younger brother. Ellis was the star athlete of the family, shall we say. He used to play for Villa for a very long time.
And I used to just go and watch his training sessions, see what they were working on so that we could practice at home or in the garden. But when I finally got talent to say I've been made redundant, you'd been working as a bricklayer.
Yeah, his ability as we just finished the local doctors in Charles Wood, which is still standing. So I can't be that bad a builder. I got my last paycheck on the Friday. Saturday I went and played football, had a really good game and someone happened to be there from Warsaw watching his son play on the other team.
And again, that was my highlight. If I could play for that team because all the local lads played for all the cool kids played for that team. So if I could play for that team, in my mind, I was called. And what were they what was that team called Shanty Town. It's super simple as that. Yeah, that was our local team. And but that was just a weekly kick about the right.
It wasn't in the box or conference or anything like that.
Now, so for the conference, it's maybe nine leagues below the conference. I didn't know they went that low. Midland combination two it was called. Yeah, it's very, very, very low. It's a local community club still running.
And the people that manage may still manage it to this day.
How old were you at that time? Eight were spotted at 18. And until then, had you not entertained serious thoughts about being a professional footballer? Not at all, just wasn't in my makeup, wasn't in my path, was never my dream, that's my brother's dream, we were going to make sure Alice was perfect and when he was perfect, he would look after the rest of us kind of thing.
Elliott is a pro footballer as well now. Right. Peace conference here. Again, this has got all the capabilities of doing it, but that I hit him very, very hard and affected his football because that pushed him a lot in football. But yeah, I come from Warsaw. Come and watch the game. I scored a couple paid really well. And again, I was playing with, like big adults at this time. So I was the youngest on the pitch by about six, seven years.
So I was kind of like learning here that everyone was a lot like a dog chasing a packet of crisps. Yeah, he kind of said, can you come to Warsaw? And at this point, I don't even know where Warsaw was. And it's like for Junction's at the six from where I'm from, I kind of just went, yeah, whatever study we were going out that night. So I kind of wanted to get into the clubhouse and have a few beers with the lads and then go out with them.
That's really striking that because in a way it was a life changing moment, but it evidently didn't feel that way. And I just wonder, maybe deep down it was and you didn't allow yourself to feel that or perhaps you just really didn't care. But that suggests a kind of almost nihilism, like a sense of lack of ambition, of something, a sense of opportunities not being real for you. It's quite odd.
I don't think a lack of ambition. I never had ambition because I've never seen ambition.
Yeah, I think that's what I meant. Like, not that you weren't capable of being ambitious, but ambition didn't seem realistic, didn't seem like something you were allowed because everyone I went to my school that ended up work in a Land Rover or work in the Dunlop factory.
I still live at home. They could pay to keep it, but I could still go out on a weekend. Veterans I could identify with. So when someone said, ah, you're very good at football, I've been here and I'm good at football since I was six years old, but I was never the top three, so I always get picked, but never the one that everyone.
What do you suppose happened to the ones who were being picked first, second and third?
I know most of them are pro footballers.
I'm no wonder why not. Their talent didn't flourish and grow in the way yours did or they didn't apply themselves or they got a no no.
So with me, you don't have to open the door for me. I just have to crack the seal and go like you just get through that. The opportunities are endless. So once I saw that I was so when I got I got collected on Monday morning, somebody from the club picked me up and took me there because I genuinely didn't think it was true, because I would have missed it.
You were going to sack it off or you just forgot or what happened. I just didn't think it was real. Why would someone from a football club want to come to town, to town and speak to Troy? So I was just in bed just chillin and the door knocks. And I genuinely thought it was like somebody coming for money. So I kind of put my head out the window and it was Derek from the club and he was like, come on, we got to go.
If Derek hadn't come over, you actually would not have I wouldn't have gone.
I needed an intervention. I played Sunday the day before. So I had my big boot caked in mud in the last debate and a tracksuit just playing on drums in the car and went and he dropped me off and that was it once I was in. And then I realised very quickly that you could transition from my level of football to make it a career and with a solid income by playing football. OK, well, let's give this a whirl then.
This trial, it was supposed to last a week and it had been three months without getting paid. And they sent me to a team courthouse own, which is just outside of Birmingham. And that was like, can you play with men? Because when I was playing with eight year olds, I was just throwing them all around because I've been playing with adults for so long that I learn how to handle myself, for example. And they were let's see if we can do with adults, the 7000 men who are confident north.
And the thing that made it really good for the hours, I mean, they gave me sixty pound a game and then for a pound of goal. So to me it was a potential one hundred pound each game. And they played Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday. So I thought I was going to throw in Japan, if I'm good enough for Japan, then managed to do very well there. And then I went back to Warsaw. And they will give you a contract at the end of the year, and that was one hundred and ten pound a week plus a train ticket, was your dad a football fan?
Yeah, well, I see say that he used to go to Birmingham City with the hooligans, but it was a league united for the hooligans are what the Birmingham City fans.
Yeah. They called Zulu's. Oh, I see what you're saying. The Zulus are notorious. Was he in the Zulus?
Yeah, him and my uncles.
And they were a kind of multiracial because some football hooligans tended to be racist. The Zulus were formed to act against essentially the National Front guys when he originally started.
How did your dad react when he realized that you were a professional footballer? It was massively proud, but he always used to compare me to like Teddy Sheringham and people like that. He used to say, like, his footballing brain is very good. His legs are just not as fast. I'm quick enough, but I'm not I won't be in the top five fastest players, let's put it that way.
Let's fast forward a bit a friend of mine was talking to before this call. He said footballers love having sex together. I don't mean with each other.
I mean, say to me, clarify that.
Yeah, just to be clear, although gay footballers is another question I had. But I guess because you read in the tabloids about a couple of footballers bringing back an escort or sex worker, whatever term you prefer, and then partying together, share females high five one another saying your turn. Now jump on this.
That to me again, this is solely speaking. That to me is like it's just disgusting. I don't know why that would be entertaining to anyone, but some people like it. And again, it even in that time when you said, is that a thing that footballers do, something that people do, you know, in some movies and stuff you see like loads of like sex parties and stuff that came from government media all go to it's just it's just kept behind closed doors and it's never out there.
So do footballers. Is that well, with everybody else in the world, I'm pretty sure there's an element of footballers that anyone has ever been out with or involved with has never, ever done that.
That's why I love that answer. And fair play to you for picking me up on that. As is well known, you had your own brush with the law, right?
You got a case of it and even did time. And this wasn't like at the beginning of your career either you were at Watford by this time. Yeah. Well, how much do we want to talk about this? Are you happy to go into it?
Yeah, I'm very much happy to go into it because for me it was definitely a crossroads in life. When I got sentenced to jail to give people a bit more respect, I was in the championship with Watford. I was actually Watford top goal scorer that year. So things were going quite good. Well, but not been aware of how well I was doing and what could potentially come off the back of that. I was still trying to be the cool kid from James Ward, still trying to be cool to my mates from home, not realising there was a bigger world out there.
And so, yeah. So within that, I was taking a lot of risks in terms of who I was associated myself with, where we would go in all these different things. And none of us had sat back and kind of went, we've kind of got what we were still in the 18, 19, 20 year old mentality when we were like twenty to twenty three.
How much can you say about the incident itself?
It was a Tuesday night when I out, I was on the phone and kind of just like walked through a bit of a melee, but not really caring, was on the phone, carried on. And as someone just said, are you brothers in there? That was your brother. And I just lost it and I just stayed in hit anything that moved. I remember someone grabbing my leg. And I just thought because of the people that I kind of used to run around with, you know, might have a knife, you might have anything for.
Obviously, someone stabbed me in my leg. Then football's over anyway. And I just turned around and just kicked him in the face. And that was the reaction I got sent down for, because naturally, being as powerful and as strong as I am anyway with kicking a football kicking human being in the face was. Yeah, it was always going to get sent down and on reflection, it's someone had done that to my son. I'd be livid, so I was embarrassed and ashamed of it, but.
It happened and I can't change it. So I just try my best, it will never happen again. So with that being said, it shaped me because I got 10 months in jail, which I ended up doing three and three untagged, that didn't change me. What changed me was my mom works for a network rail, so she went into the train station and the local paper had a picture of me and my brother on the front of it and said footballer sentenced to jail kind of thing.
And everyone in our office was talking about it. She was just ashamed. And I was like. I'm meant to be the one who protects you, as we spoke about earlier on in it, and I'm the one now embarrassing. So that was a big thing. And then I was in Winston Green Jail for a few weeks. And a lot of people in I grew up with only my dad. And I was in the gym to the guys that I knew from the pub come up to me and just went because I'd lost my dad as well to give people context.
I buried my dad on the Friday and went to jail on the Monday after an illness right after my dad got cancer of the esophagus, which killed him in like six weeks. So I kind of went in there a sense of I'll be all right because one of my friends was on the same wing as me and other guys that knew my dad was obviously around the prison. So I kind of went in there like, I'll be all right. What happened when I was in the gym was guys come up to me and literally when if I didn't have so much respect for your dad, I would slap you all over the place right now.
And I was kind like, huh, why? You live everyone's dream and you fucked it up to want to be tough on a night out. You're an embarrassment. You've got to understand how big of an opportunity you've got, not only for you, but to show young kids from around our area that they don't have to be like us. Yeah, a lot of people put me straight because, again, I thought I was the cool kid, everyone would speak nicely to me and we'd kind of get along.
But people just told me I was an idiot and that's what I needed. And then, yeah, when I came back out of jail, I just decided I was going to give it a real go go. And I still made mistakes along the way, but I definitely dedicated myself to football a lot better.
But where we've been talking for a while, I've really enjoyed talking to you, Troy. You've been amazingly candid and it's appreciated. Here's a random question. This came up earlier where all the gay footballers. That there the no injuries in there. Do you know who they are? No, because I've got a big mouth, so I'd say something. But I'm interested. I'm interested for the simple fact. I think there is now a bigger platform than ever to be a gay athlete of any nature.
I always wonder why the people finish football, rugby, whatever the sport might be, and then go, I am gay. I don't know, because once it's out there, it's out there. So it must be a real heavy load to carry for all your sporting career.
I would have thought, but I don't think they're doing it out of selfishness or sort of sense of biding their time as such. It's more a fear of either rejection or bullying or isn't it part of the culture.
But while I understand what you're saying, if everything is going on in terms of the Rainbow Coalition or what pro LGBT groups now would be the best time.
And also, again, this is not the point. But if you're looking at it solely from a campaign in point of view where we spoke about with Instagram and things like that, the marketing and the exposure, you're going to get to be the first. Openly gay, active playing football. Let's say, I mean, personally, I'm very comfortable in what you're saying is you just wish you were gay and then you could scoop up all those sponsorships.
Yeah, 100 percent. I can't relate to it. I think what people don't want to do so they are gay or from that community, definitely are very worried about having to shoulder the responsibility of being the first. I think once the first comes out, they'll be.
Let me put this out there. Can you imagine if Ronaldo were gay or bisexual?
I don't see that as you saw the picture of him being carried by the guy. No, I haven't.
You'll have to show him afterwards. But if he came out and said, hey, I genuinely believe you would get in the first week, 100 people that went me to just because I don't want to be the face of it in football.
Yeah, in any sport.
But yes, I certainly believe that I would go on record saying there is probably one gay or bi person in every football team.
There's your headline. Yet at the Derby, I'll be all over this guy for the next two weeks, you, me, just by the sheer stats and numbers and the amount of people that are around. That's like saying there's not one racist in a football team. I generally put it on the same aspect. But there has to be a race, whether that be a black guy that's racist towards white guys, like I said, black guys or whatever it might be in terms of religion, anything.
I just genuinely feel now that the law of averages would suggest there's got to be at least at least one gay footballer that's actively playing.
You're saying that you don't really understand why these gay players aren't coming out, is that right? Yeah.
Your sense is that they would not be bullied if they came out. Wouldn't be.
I could only talk on if someone was to come in and watch the dressing room with me as a captain. If I tell one of my players to and said, let's just let you know I'm gay, I would genuinely tell you for about a week. There would be a bit of a you know, like a questioning, can we shower together or do you look at me what looked to be genuine questions, which I think people will probably listen to say go?
Oh, well, that's probably why they don't out. But genuinely, people would have questions, be inquisitive to know how they would want to be treated, vice versa. And then by week two, no one would care. Honestly, no one would care.
So all you gay footballers that are listening to this podcast. Come on.
I think I think they should be the first to be the Neil Armstrong of gay footballing and plant your flag and say, I'm out and I'm proud, but which I don't mean. That sounds like I might be trivializing it, which I don't mean to.
But do you think honestly, in today's society, this is solely a question to answer. However, you want to make it easier to be gay or to be racist now.
It's easier now. That's a great question. That's a really hard question. I think it's easier to be gay, isn't it?
I would say so, yeah.
But I just generally want to know my feeling is it's easier to be gay, but actually it's a bit nebulous. My feeling is that as a society, and rightfully so, we take a dim view of racism. While we tend to accept that people's sexuality among adults is completely their own business. But I also think that cultures vary around the world. There's places in Eastern Europe and I don't mean to stigmatize Eastern Europe, but, you know, historically that's been racist incidents at grounds in Eastern Europe.
And those are also cultures in which homosexuality is probably viewed in a different way as well.
Again, going back to America first, gay NFL players, it you're asking the wrong person about their hockey players, whether they're out.
I don't know, because I do remember Dwyane Wade, the basketball player, used to be a representative of the Olympics and obviously to have played for Miami for a number of years. His son now is 13, maybe 14, identifies as a woman I think I heard about. And they they support push it as proudly as any parent would, I suppose. But I don't see any statements coming out about that. Would they get negative people online? Of course, that will get negative people online.
Even if you give a million pounds to charity, the Tarago wouldn't give terrorists there's a troll for every occasion.
The sooner you realize that the good ones are the kids watch and not the good ones, not the ones that sing in close vocal harmony and make funny animated films.
I watched that movie the other day was pretty good, right? I was interested, I thought was pretty good. I fell asleep for like fifteen minutes and found it difficult to follow the plot afterwards.
Why are you so much the animated films? I enjoy those mostly, but the gormless YouTube videos that he insists on watching of other families playing video games or playing with toys. There's a kid in America, isn't I? Forget his name.
He literally makes thirty million a year. Yeah, he opens composing.
He's the world's most highly paid YouTube.
The girls are massively interested in that, which is bizarre because they're opening things that we've got. And I'm like, it's there. Look, honestly, just look at it yourself. It's fine. We'll never get it. He does it better. Yeah, he does it better.
Obviously he does it better.
I think we might have got to that special time when we've got to go back to our farm, got to go back to our families.
But first we invite Paul and Catherine back from behind the curtain.
You've been listening to Grounded with Louis through. My guest today has been footballer and Watford captain Troy Deeney. Thanks for that, Troy.
I really enjoyed it. I'm sorry I started with your FIFA ranking, and then I was like, I wonder if this was the wisest opening gambit.
Remember, there are many more conversations like this in the series. Just search for Grounded with Louis through wherever you get your podcasts and subscribe. And I think the other thing is you speak your mind, you're very honest. You don't feel like you're someone who's got his agent or manager whispering in your ear to deliver a certain prepackage message. You're your own person.
Are they tried? They give up about four years ago. I think it's around about the time when I said I still have no comment and I was on live TV they knew was a lost cause and how right you were next week.
It's the turn of TV presenter, former model and mental health campaigner Gail Porter.
This has been a maintenance production for BBC Radio four, cobbled together remotely by Paul Kobrick and Catherine, my nan. I find quantum mechanics confusing. Hello, I'm Brian Cox. And I'm Robert Gates, and the Infinite Monkey Cage is back for a new series. And we are dealing with so many fantastic ideas. And even better, no one that we've asked has got an alibi for getting out of doing the show. So in this series, we have got one of the first episode alone we took at the end of the universe with Brian Greene, Katie Mack, Eric Idle and Steve Martin.
Yes, you heard that Steve Martin and Eric Idle are joining us anyway. Enjoy the new series. We're having a fantastic time making it, Brian, particularly enjoying it because he's hundreds of miles away from me and they're just using technology to create some sense of proximity. That's the great thing about it all. That's the infinite monkey cage on BBC sounds now.
Well, not now. I mean, there's no unique definition of now in physics. It's is relative. Some BBC sounds.
And you've got that from Binnington, Professor Cox. I believe that alone, and it's Bob. I can't maybe his dad is a rat. You can wait in the air for no mom like.