After an eventful footballing career which saw the Staffordshire-born striker play over 200 games and score nearly 100 goals, former Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore sat down with 7500 to Holte to discuss his life in football.
“Front foot, dynamic runner with the ball who liked to get people off their feet and score great goals,” not our words but Stan’s as the Englishman briefly described his playing style.
Collymore was born in Stone, Staffordshire and immediately fell in love with the beautiful game at a young age as he began to play football for junior sides Cannock Peelers and Penkridge Juniors. The youngster started to impress professional sides and joined Walsall as well as Wolverhampton Wanderers before being released and signing for then Non-League side Stafford Rangers. Stan expressed how important playing football in England’s lower divisions was in terms of developing him as a player. “School of hard knocks was the lower league, so you had to show great physical and mental toughness to get through games! Set me up really well for league football.”
The Englishman caught the eye of several football league clubs during his time at Stafford Rangers which coincidently saw him sign for Crystal Palace at 19. Collymore would go on to make 20 appearances for the Eagles before moving to Southend United in 1992 where he scored 15 goals in 30 games. The footballer then joined the East Midlands side Nottingham Forest where he scored 41 goals for the Reds over two years, his highest scoring tally for any individual club in his footballing career, a prolific period. “I was lucky to play for a team with midfielders who got the ball to me very quickly rather than play keep ball which denies you space as an attacker. We also played 5 in midfield and me up front which I loved, and we were a very good counter attacking team on the break!”
After a successful period at Nottingham Forest, the striker joined Liverpool in 1995 where he formed a deadly attacking partnership with Robbie Fowler, an exciting time in Collymore’s career.
“I bowed to the Kop on my debut! Fowler was prolific so I had to tailor my game to move wide more and turn provider because he was always going to outscore me!”
After 64 appearances for the Reds, Aston Villa came calling in the year of 1997 however over his three years with the Villans Stan struggled with his mental health, a period in his life where he was diagnosed with clinical depression and received treatment at the Priory Hospital Roehampton. “It was negative and positive. Negative that I was going through this at the club I love dearly however positive because by reaching out for help it saved my life!” The Staffordshire-born footballer ultimately struggled on his return to professional football as Collymore scored only once during his three-month loan spell at Fulham. Villa manager John Gregory allowed Stan to leave on a free transfer to Leicester City where he made 11 appearances before moving to Bradford City for the 2000/2001 season and ending his career abroad with Real Oviedo.
Despite making over 200 appearances in his footballing career, the striker only made 3 appearances for England and when asked if he would have liked to see more action for the Three Lions, Collymore responded by by saying, “I should have had but there were at least 10-20+ English goalscorers playing well and scoring goals so to get 1 cap in that company would have translated to 35 today!”
After his retirement, he went on to work in the media industry with the experienced player hosted his own podcast ‘The Last Word with Stan Collymore’ where he regularly interviewed former professional footballers discussing key moments in their career as well as discussing key topics from the Premier League. With many young people wanting to become a footballer in the 21st Century, Stan finally advised the youth of today who want to enter the crazy profession to, “be humble, talk openly, have good friends rather than hangers on and give your all to your career because you’re old very quickly!”