An article about me appeared in a national newspaper earlier this week and a few points that got people talking.
One of those was me revealing that I forced my son and daughter to go and get Saturday jobs when they were 15. It wasn’t mentioned but my youngest son Max is 12 and he’s trying to get a job as well.
I’ve been very lucky and privileged with my career to be in a position to be able to look after my kids financially moreso than I was when I was a youngster.
But I think it’s important they realise the worth of it and also that they don’t get brought up in a bubble.
As early as possible, I wanted to get them out realising the worth of earning money but also how hard you have to work to do it as well. Hopefully that will stand them in good stead for later in life.
When I was 12 I was playing football and I had a paper round and milk round at the same time. It learned me the value of hard work and that would come in useful. All my friends and team mates at the time were signing for Scottish clubs but my late dad wanted me to wait until I was 16 to make a decision when I’d had a bit of an education in life.
I got that signing for Arsenal at 16, going to London on my own at that age. It took a lot of growing up from me and Arsenal are a very good club at helping with it.
I say to my players I played with lads that probably had more ability in their little finger than what I’ve got in my whole body but the reason I got to where I did was down to my work ethic.
It showed that you don’t have to be the most talented player if you have that work ethic that will always give you a chance.
My players know exactly what I’m like. I’m a simple character sometimes. If you go out and work as hard as you can, I will back you all the way. If I feel the players haven’t done what I asked of them, that’s when they know I’ll be on at them.
I think younger players today need to learn the value of hard work more than ever.
I watch Premier League U21 football maybe three or four times a week. It can be difficult to pick players out who you can take into a proper football environment, man’s football, because you need that work ethic and desire if they’re not going to sink.
Players today are getting brought up in a different way where everything is given to them early. They have their breakfast and lunch made for them every day and barely have to lift a finger.
When you’re handed everything and that becomes the norm for you, it takes a strong character to go on and forge a career.
Maybe jobs at 15 should become mandatory.