‘Football took me to Hull and back’

Goalkeeping book Graduation by Richard Lee
Goalkeeping book Graduation by Richard Lee

Graduation: Part Two - The Bucks Herald brings you the second in a series of fascinating excerpts from the new book of Aylesbury-born professional goalkeeper Richard Lee, Graduation.

“As well as being hypnotised I also made other changes. Rather than wearing my tired looking black Umbro boots I bought some white Adidas Predators along with white socks.

I also asked that rather than wearing extra-large kit that I wear a much tighter fitting large keeper’s shirt. Next on the list was a haircut. This is quite a common one; often when people want to elicit change a haircut is the way forward – David Beckham being the most noteworthy example of this, and why not, it certainly can’t hurt.

In the grand scheme of things these may seem insignificant and it is a form of ‘taking control’, but there is also the belief that if you look good then you’ll feel good.

The problem I now face when getting my hair trimmed, though, is that it’s not so much a case of having it cut into a certain style as much as having the thicker areas cut in such a way as to match in with the areas that are now thinning at a rapid rate. The style is the least of my worries! With each cut it’s turning more and more into a precise operation, removing hair follicles individually in an attempt to fight baldness for another week. I have actually had the implant procedure made famous by Wayne Rooney on my head, implanting hair into barren areas, although this was primarily on the front of my hairline.

The issues I have at 27 are very much around the crown area. The end of any haircut, when I’m offered the mirror from behind to check out the back of my head, used to be an irrelevance. I now anticipate it with anxiety, always curious as to whether I will soon be sporting a Pepe Reina style or returning for further surgery on the crown area!

I guess it’s a good job I own a hat business.

Of all the teams we were due to face (on what was a crucial day personally) it had to be Hull City who had cost me and Watford FC a shot at the Premier League a few years earlier in what was perhaps my lowest moment as a footballer. Could I settle a personal score with them or would they consign me to further distress?

Game day arrived. Despite the work on the mind I had done over the past few days I was still nervous.”