Admit it, you don’t like Steve Claridge.
It’s okay. Everyone gets a little bit frustrated when you listen to the former Portsmouth and Leicester City striker waffling on about nothing during ‘The Football League Show’.
Claridge was not a bad player, but his over-earnest approach to punditry is annoying.
He makes Garth Crooks look like Robbie Savage and his tendency to emphasis every point with such force is embarrassing. He also seems to think that he is Pelé of punditry and his inflated opinion of himself does not stop there.
Anyone who has read his two autobiographies will know that Claridge is a man who thinks of himself very highly and has the arrogance to match.
‘Beyond the Boot Camps’ by Steve Claridge with Ian Ridley takes this narcissism to new levels but, thankfully, it also provides some classic quotes.
The ‘best’ 25 quotes, in reverse order, are revealed below. Hopefully, you can have a good chortle at them.
“By then I wasn’t your normal 34-year-old player looking to squeeze the last drop out of his career, I was fanatically fit and knew I could play until I was 40” (p.26).
Claridge on being offered the Portsmouth player-manager job in 2000.
“I don’t really have any hobbies, since football has been both my job and my hobby” (p. 278).
Claridge talks about life outside football.
“Looking back, I can understand now why Pulis played them together, because they were a strong, powerful pair and that was his style and a sign of how he wanted the team to play. Back then, though, I had trouble gasping how the best striker in the club was being left out” (p.22).
Claridge talks about Tony Pulis preferring to play Lee Mills and Lee Bradbury up-front, at Portsmouth, instead of him.
“I had only rarely needed agents, and only then to sound out clubs for me, and had no need of one now. I knew how to draw up a contract” (p.32).
Claridge on the irony of not needing an agent.
“He liked all the stuff about cones and bibs; making sure the team bus was on time and players’ meals sorted. I liked to think about teams, patterns and shapes and preferred to leave all that stuff to someone else. Guy was also a nice bloke, whereas I have an edge to me, so thought he would be a good foil for me on the bad-cop, good-cop principle of managers and their assistants” (p.29).
Claridge remarks on Guy Whittingham’s credentials as a player-assistant manager.
“It was another place to add to the list of those who were now hiring me as a firefighter. I should have been travelling round the country in a red engine with a bell ringing” (p. 223).
Claridge talks about his final days as a professional footballer, this time at Paul Merson’s Walsall.
“It was a point proven all round, both to Pulis and McGhee, not that either of them said anything to me” (p.23).
Claridge has the last laugh after scoring for Portsmouth in their 3-1 victory over Wolves.
“He was an honest lad, who would later go through the pain barrier for me when he probably wouldn’t have done for other managers” (p.30).
Claridge on Ceri Hughes.
“My first game was at home to Sheffield Wednesday and, naturally, I picked myself” (p.32).
Claridge discusses his first match as Portsmouth’s player-manager.
“Also, I had the courtesy to brush my teeth that day and I’m not sure he did” (p. 130).
Claridge discusses the personal hygiene of footballers at Lewes FC.
“I had just bought an £80 Boss T-shirt that went missing after training, which annoyed me. The next week, Pethick turned up for his lift down to training wearing it and spun some story about where he got it. When I told him it was mine he seemed surprised, but said I could have it back after training. I wasn’t having that. I had it straight off his back and made him travel down to Weymouth naked from the waist up” (p. 132).
Claridge talks about a spat with Robbie Pethwick, during his managerial spell at Weymouth.
“Things got so bad that I had to put Guy Whittingham on the bench against Wimbledon on Boxing Day. Fortunately we got away with a 1-1 draw in which I scored. Guy also came on, and I challenge anyone to find another example at such a high level of both a manager and his assistant being in a squad together, let alone on the filed at the same time” (p.44).
Claridge discusses his managerial legacy.
“They had interviewed the other bloke but now wanted to offer me the job. Thank God for that, I thought, I’ll get my air fare back now” (p. 180).
Claridge’s reaction to be offered the job as Millwall’s manager.
“Havant – who would later be tagged with all that romance-of-the-Cup stuff some seasons later when they went to Liverpool – were not in reality a particularly friendly or welcoming club and I had recently been refused access to their boardroom for a half-time cup of tea when scouting a player because I was wearing black jeans. And all this despite the fact that we had let one of their scouts into our boardroom pre-season who was wearing shorts” (p. 123-124).
Alan Partridge, erm I mean Steve Claridge, talks about wearing jeans and shorts during football matches.
“When you are a player, you can indulge your personality, as I had done in acquiring that reputation as mine as a character” (p.39).
Claridge discusses his personality.
“Most players put together an autobiography as they come to the end of their career – if they are interesting enough for people to want to read about them, that is. Rarely do they have a second volume in them. Steve Claridge, however, is not most players. The evidence comes in the form of one of the most vivid and varied of footballing lives, on and off the field” (p.3).
The book’s first line.
“Anyone who would later go on that BBC show Dragon’s Den and who wanted to get the better of Theo should have contacted me first to know how to deal with him – financially at least” (p.66).
Claridge boasts about his financial acumen.
“For me it is quite simple. In the end, I am right and he is wrong” (p. 248).
Claridge on the acclaimed football journalist Gabriele Marcotti.
“Steve’s management style was the one and only thing that let him down in his time at Weymouth,” Waldock believes. “To say his style was brutal would be an understatement. The Alex Ferguson hairdyer would be described as a subtle breeze in comparison with some of Steve’s post-match debriefs” (p. 104).
Former Weymouth captain John Waldock on Claridge’s spell as Weymouth’s player-manager.
“To be honest, I don’t think there are many who do know more than me” (p. 253-254).
Steve Claridge on Steve Claridge.
“Steve is a maverick who rewards someone who allows him to get on and do the job by delivering results. He has that spark and touch of ingenuity that requires the indulgence the talented need. In return, he brings a liveliness and vibrancy to the place and to your existence” (p. 242).
Co-author Ian Ridley on what Claridge is really like.
“As I spoke with Theo over the next day or two during discussions about my pay-off, he went over the old ground and said he was hearing more and more about how poor-pre season training had been. I reminded him that this was Steve Claridge, who was one of the fittest footballers around and who expected his players to be as well. Some of them had said it had been the hardest pre-season they had known” (p. 200).
Claridge explains why he should not have been sacked as the manager of Millwall.
“Actually, I think I get too technical at times because I am very into the tactics and strategy of the game, which you need to be as an expert summariser, both on radio and TV. I like to explain why certain formations work for certain teams, why this player is good in such a role, what his strengths and weaknesses are. I think what people like, or at least they say to me they do, is that when I say something, I give an explanation for it. If something is wrong, I say why. People also like a bit of humour, a bit of lightness amid the lesson if you like, and I think I can deliver that” (p.253).
Claridge talks about why he thinks he is a good football pundit.
“Was someone inside the club acting as his “mole” to get stuff against me?” (p. 192).
Claridge talks about why he was sacked by Millwall.
“Steve has always insisted that it was him who made Emile Heskey look so good and that it was him who got Heskey his £11 million pound move to Liverpool from Leicester” (p.60).
Steve Claridge: footballer, broadcaster, and the man behind Emile Heskey’s successful career.