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 Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 10:36 GMT
The James Beattie column
James Beattie

Rod Stewart's fan club increased by about 20 people on Monday afternoon.

We were invited to train in Rod's back garden at his place in Theydon Bois in Essex on the morning before the game at West Ham.

Our gaffer Gordon Strachan and Rod are good friends, but then I suppose Scotsmen have to stick together!

When you're invited to play in somebody's back garden you don't quite know what to expect.

But what a house!

Everyone knows Rod is mad on his football and has a full, international size pitch laid out on his land, complete with corner flags and nets with the Scottish lion on them.

He might be in his 50s but he's still pretty fit, as you have to be to put yourself through the tours he does, and he still plays football.

Rod has got full-time staff who obviously look after the grounds and the pitch is immaculate as good as most Premiership pitches we play on.

He's not around at the moment so we didn't have the chance to look around inside the house.

But they got one - yes, ONE! - of his Ferraris out of the garage for us to have a look at.

Rod Stewart infootball action
Our host can still play a bit

People say that professional footballers earn big money but Rod puts us to shame.

It was a privilege to visit Rod's house - but that was not the reason we arrived late at Upton Park because we actually left for the ground from our hotel.

We might have arrived late because of traffic, but we made up for it by being prepared to work late.

There's no way back from an injury time goal, and although I scored from about six yards out, I would rank it among my better goals this season, purely from a striker's point of view.

Some guys have all the luck

I've been lucky enough to score some spectacular strikes this season but I get as much satisfaction from what are often seen as 'striker's' goals.

Sometimes you get branded as somebody who can only score the spectacular goals whereas strikers such as Michael Owen and Kevin Phillips are seen as instinctive, penalty-box predators.

When I saw Brett Ormerod get the ball down the left my initial movement was towards him to offer help in case he turned inside.

But once he got away, I knew it was my job to get in there for Brett to roll a ball across the box.

James Beattie celebrates his winner against West Ham
There's no better feeling than scoring the winner

As a striker, you have to gamble on occasions, and that's what I did as my movement took me towards the near post.

Although Christian Dailly was between me and Brett, it was such a good ball that it took the defender out of the equation.

My gamble got me into the right position to cash in and finish as the ball came in.

Not a bad end to a pretty special day!

Southampton striker James Beattie writes for BBC Sport Online

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