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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 August 2006, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Kevin Nolan column
Kevin Nolan
By Kevin Nolan
Bolton captain

Hello - and welcome to my new column on the BBC website.

Kevin Nolan (right) challenges Tottenham's Jermain Defoe
I'm very conscious of the little things that amount to where I am now

Over the course of the season I'm sure I'll be writing about all sorts of issues but I thought I'd start this week by talking about how I became a professional footballer.

I was born in Liverpool in 1982 and like most schoolboys always dreamed of becoming a footballer.

I followed Liverpool as a boy but Eric Cantona and Lee Sharpe were my favourite players, which was a bit mad because it meant I also wanted Manchester United to do well.

My dad and his brothers - Steve, Dave and Tony - all played football to a good standard and by the age of 14 I was in the City of Liverpool's schoolboys team.

My best mate in the side, Darryl Tagoe, was on the books at Bolton. One day he asked whether I fancied going along and I have not looked back since.

I was signed on a year-to-year contract until I was 16. For my first couple of years at Bolton the junior set-up was a bit like a really good Sunday league team.

I used to come up against all the top youngsters in the north-west but fortunately we had a really good team and only lost a couple of games.

Turning 16 coincided with Bolton opening their Academy.

The coaching staff brought the juniors in for a chat one by one and told them whether they were going to be offered a place.

Thankfully I was. I have always been grateful and like to think that over time I have really taken the opportunity I was given.

Darryl remained at the club until I was 18 or 19. Unfortunately it did not work out for him but we remain good mates to this day and go out whenever the opportunity arises.

I turned professional when I was 17 and made my first-team debut shortly afterwards.

It all happened very quickly and I'm obviously delighted with how things have worked out, but I'm very conscious that it has been the little things that amount to where I am now.

Darryl asking if I fancied trying my luck with Bolton is very much a part of that.

In my first years as a professional Michael Ricketts was my best mate at the club.

He joined the season I broke through and we were the two young lads in the dressing room.

NOLAN'S TOP TEN
Favourite food: Chinese
Favourite colour: Red
Favourite music: Mixture
Favourite film: The Godfather
Favourite TV programme: The Contender
Favourite comedian: Peter Kay
Favourite car: Audi A8
Favourite ground: Anfield or Old Trafford
Favourite other sport: Tennis, Golf or Boxing
Favourite holiday destination: Dubai

These days I tend to spend a lot of time with the likes of Gary Speed, Nicky Hunt and Jussi Jaaskelainen - lads who have been involved in the English game for a while.

I can honestly say, though, that we have a really tight squad and I consider them all good mates.

Outside of football I have been with my girlfriend for the last nine years. We got engaged in the summer and our first child is due towards the end of the year so there is quite a lot going on at the moment.

I am also assistant manager of a Sunday league team in Liverpool called Nicosia.

A lot of my family have played for them and I really enjoy it. It gives me the chance to switch off from my football and focus on something else.

I'm sure you'll be hearing more about them in the coming months.

In some respects though I can be pretty boring - my job demands it.

I try to spend as much time as possible with the missus but during the week it is tough on her because I don't do much.

I spend a lot of time lying on the sofa resting, making sure I am in the best condition possible to perform well at training.

Football is a serious business and this season I want to play as many games as possible.

People said I did well last season and there is pressure on me to perform well again - this does not worry me but it is something that drives me on.

I want to make sure I maintain my consistency and score more crucial goals pushing forward from midfield this time around.

Bolton must make sure they stay in and around the top eight and challenge in the cups.

We all saw how close West Ham came to winning the FA Cup last season and clubs like us must take heart from that.


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