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MICHAEL DUBERRY COLUMN: Proud to hang up my boots as a winner
9:30am Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in Sport
Michael Duberry celebrates a 3-0 win at Accrington for Oxford United in April, which turned out to be his final game as a professional
When you’re in the game you have to play your achievements down or you’re seen as arrogant, but now I’ve retired I can proudly say what I have achieved – not in a bragging way, but in a proud way.
I have always said the hardest thing in any sport is to win and be known as a winner.
Looking back on my career I’m really happy to know I’ve been a part of history at some massive clubs.
Hanging up my boots has got me thinking about the journey I’ve made since starting out at Enfield Rangers as a nine-year-old – and it’s been an incredible ride.
It didn’t start out too well, when I turned up late to my first trial, at West Ham – in an Arsenal shirt.
When they started with some keepy-uppies, never my strong point, the coaches must have been thinking ‘who is this clown?’ Luckily I got into Chelsea soon afterwards and although I was never the best in my group, I kept improving.
My aim was just to keep getting to the next stage and I was buzzing when after just one year as a YTS lad they offered me a professional contract.
I sat down in the office and signed a contract for £250 a week.
The first thing I did was buy my mum a dishwasher and said ‘that means I don’t have to wash up anymore’.
I really grew up with a loan spell at Bournemouth and then I got a run at Chelsea.
I was up against Tony Yeboah at Leeds, which kick-started my career.
The next few games I marked Les Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, Chris Armstrong, Teddy Sheringham. It was sink or swim time, but I came out of it strongly.
I won things at Chelsea but in terms of being around a set of lads, the time at my next club, Leeds, was unparalleled.
Everyone had the same drive and we were one trophy away from building something special and going on to bigger things under David O’Leary.
But things at the club changed and our best players kept leaving to the point where I fell out of love with football.
Moving to Stoke City was really good for me because the fans were brilliant and it got me going again.
Reading offered me the chance to get back to the Premier League and I loved playing under Steve Coppell.
He was very calm and I liked the way he spoke to players.
From there I went to Wycombe, but after a decent start it didn’t really happen there and Peter Taylor got sacked.
For the first time in my career I didn’t have a club, but then St Johnstone came in for me.
Everyone hammers Scottish football, but I’m really glad I made the move.
The fans really welcomed me and in my last game away at St Mirren there were banners wanting me to stay, but I ended up signing for Oxford.
The first season here was amazing, I played with a passion from the first pre-season game because I wanted to show everyone I wasn’t an old player.
I had that attitude every week and it kept me going to prove the doubters wrong.
The second year I was so gutted to need surgery on my neck because I had such big plans.
I was determined not to retire on the treatment table. It was a massive thing to get playing again, even though it only turned out to be a few games.
It’s quite emotional to think about it, but I have no regrets.
Looking at each club I’ve been to brings a smile to my face.
After such a long time I’ve got plenty to be happy about.
DUBERRY'S BEST GAMES FOR EACH OF HIS CLUBS
CHELSEA 1 Real Madrid 0
European Super Cup final, Aug 28, 1998
I was worried because Chelsea had signed Marcel Desailly, but Luca Vialli played him in midfield and I got to play against Raul. I must have been the only non-international on the pitch, but we lifted the trophy.
LEEDS UNITED 1 AC Milan 0
Champions League group stage, Sept 19, 2000
They had Oliver Bierhoff and Andriy Shevchenko up front and people thought we were going to get pasted. But we kept a clean sheet and Lee Bowyer scored late on to win 1-0.
Leeds Utd 0 STOKE CITY 4
Championship, Oct 14, 2006
It was my birthday, I was getting loads of stick from the Leeds fans and we beat them with me as captain.
Manchester United 0 READING 0
Premier League, Aug 12, 2007
It was the first game of the season and I man-marked Wayne Rooney and then Cristiano Ronaldo. Getting a clean sheet there was a fantastic feeling.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS 2 Bristol Rovers 1
League One, Aug 29, 2009
There weren’t too many highlights during my brief stay, but this win was part of a good start to the season.
ST JOHNSTONE 4 Rangers 1
Scottish Premier League, Mar 30, 2010
No-one gave us a chance and they had Kris Boyd who was scoring loads of goals, but I kept him quiet and we battered them.
OXFORD UTD 2 Swindon Town 0
League Two, Mar 3, 2012
Both derby games were brilliant but I’d pick the game at the Kassam. With us going down to ten men it was more fiery.
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