WL: Darren, you started your career at Watford. Was becoming a footballer always the plan at an early age?
DW: Yeah definitely, from a young age, I always wanted to play football and I've got three brothers that are the same as well. I'm privileged and a very lucky man to have done so.
|Darren's early days at Watford|
DW: It was very good and, in my eyes, I thoroughly deserved it as well. I worked very hard and there were some very good players. You also get encouraged and helped along the way to reach your potential it's nice. A lot of players have the potential and it's good for them. It's great.
WL: On joining Millwall, you gained the nickname "The Peckham Beckham", it must be one of the more nicer names surely?!
DW: Well, you get called many things in football and I suppose you could be called worse names! I'll take that one though with a little smile on my face!
WL: You then joined Crystal Palace for just over £1m, did that figure put pressure on you to succeed there?
DW: Erm... not really, I'm one of those guys that simply takes it as it comes. At the time, as you say, I'd just won two Player of the Seasons, an FA Cup finalist and there were a lot of clubs after me. I was backed along the way to go on and do well there (Palace) and ultimately, the price had to be paid. I had to be sold in Millwall's eyes and that was that really.
|HIGH FLYING EAGLE: Darren (Centre) celebrates a goal for Palace|
DW: Well, in my first season there, I'd played 30-odd games and did well. Obviously, sometimes you just don't settle at a club, sometimes you don't get on well with people at a club and it's just one of those where maybe at another time it would have helped. There were a few other issues around it and I would say it's probably down to many different circumstances rather than anything else.
WL: Yeah, and after a few years on the road, on loan, you must have jumped at the chance to return to Millwall and to return "home" in a way?
DW: Yeah, there were quite a lot of offers to be honest before I joined Millwall. Of course I had history there in terms of what I'd done before at the club and how I enjoyed it there so much previously. I decided to come back. There were a lot bigger clubs that I could have joined but with Millwall, it was just an absolute pleasure to come back and play for them again.
WL: You're one of three brothers that have been footballers; Scott's played here (Crawley) and Elliott is at Norwich City, are you a sporty family? Were your parents sporty types too?
DW: Yeah, yeah, my oldest brother Lee was at Watford as a YTS as well; he was a good player. My Dad was at QPR as a young lad. We all love football and we are very fortunate enough to do it - 3 out of the 4 isn't bad.
WL: Not bad at all. I'm sure you must be delighted to see Elliott doing so well, playing at Premier League level, for Norwich?
DW: Yeah, he's a fantastic player Elliott, a very very good player. Hopefully he can be pushed and can push himself to go on an be the player that everyone knows he can be. When he was young, at West Ham, he was coming through the ranks with Glen Johnson. Unfortunately, he (Elliott) had a bad back injury which helped propel Anton Ferdinand's career. To be fair, they've all done well, Glen Johnson, Anton and Elliott at the time who were there, have all gone on to play in the Premiership which isn't bad!
|EL' OF A PLAYER: Brother is a Premier League player|
DW: Yes, I did turn down the chance to join West Ham. It was a decision I made at the time - We're all very close, as brothers. I suppose a little bit of it was not to keep Elliott out of the side but we're all very protective and football's a difficult industry at times; you've got to have a thick skin to come to the table every day. In the end, it was one of those where I felt it was better to join Palace at the time.
WL: Off the pitch you've got a couple of business ventures. You've got a cattery, are you an animal lover? Is it something you always wanted to do?
DW: Erm... I'm not sure if it was always something I wanted to do! It was an opportunity I was offered to take up. I have a couple of other businesses - The cattery is one of three. It's a good business, a very good business. People love cats, I used to work there, it was a good opportunity, it runs well and we're an established company now. The second one is the financial company New Incentive, it's a UK and international based company. We look after quite a few footballers from International players, Premiership, all the way through to the Conference to help players with their financial situations. It's very, very important because, as you can imagine, there's a lot of people out there that target players because of how much money they earn and they haven't got the help, or the background in a way, to help them decide what they want to do with their money. I've also got a trophy company which sells football equipment as well which is good and is doing very well.
DW: That's the one yeah, Pro Team Sport. Yeah, that does well too, it's a fairly new company. I'm not in it as seriously as I could be, with of course football at the moment. It's a good one for the future hopefully.
WL: Finally, you're in your early 30's now, have you started to look into the coaching side of the game?
DW: I've been approached by a number of people from management. It could be an option but, if I'm honest, I'm not looking at it at the minute. I'd like to think I'm very, very fit for my age and I do not see myself retiring for a number of years. With a lot of things I have around football, I'd like to take my time a bit more and assess things as and when I need to start looking at other options. At the minute, not just yet!
|Me and Darren|
Many thanks to Darren for taking the time to speak to me.
For more information on Darren's businesses, visit the links below:
Silverhill Cattery - http://www.silverhillcattery.co.uk/
New Incentive - http://www.newincentive.co.uk/index.htm
Pro Team Sport - http://www.proteam-sport.com/