It is approaching hour of darkness in Amiens, a sleepy town in northern France, and Andy Carroll is taking aim at a dartboard. ‘I’m going for 180,’ he says, extending his long limbs towards the target. He falls well fast. The forfeit? A tray of drinks.
No one bats an eyelid. That’s why he likes it here. He feels at house.
Somewhat how this barnstorming traditional English centre forward ended up wearing quantity 99 and playing in the French second division, 75 miles north of Paris, needs some explaining. It’s one of the reasons why we ended up staying in a single day at his apartment. There’s tons for him to say.
Moving into Rod Stewart’s house, a Bengal cat costing £1,000 (it lasted two weeks), fake allegations about drug taking, eating elephantine roast pre-match dinners at Newcastle and a transfer that must calm by no means have happened – the titanic, costly one – to Liverpool, are all part of Carroll’s narrative. His colossal collection of hats, too. ‘I don’t even appreciate hats.’ Extra of that to return.
Now playing here as a free transfer signing, at the Stade de la Licorne, the ‘Unicorn Stadium’, with its tiny 12,000 capacity, Carroll – calm only 34 – feels it’s time to start up.
Andy Carroll moved abroad this summer season for the primary time when he joined French facet Amiens
Carroll spoke to Mail Sport about how he is loving life in the sleepy town in northern France
He also explained how a barnstorming traditional English centre forward – who won nine caps for his nation – ended up wearing quantity 99 and playing in the French second division
In that strong Geordie accent, he tells his narrative. ‘I was at Newcastle from seven years weak. I made my debut at 17. I appropriate idea, “You know what, if I don’t lumber (abroad) now then I’ll by no means lumber”. I had another season at Reading. I wasn’t playing and I spoke to the manager. He wanted legs up high which is something I don’t have. I was going to say “anymore” but I don’t think I ever had them!
‘I wanted a challenge. A challenge in a totally various nation. A recent start. I spoke to my agent and said, “Secure me a membership abroad”. I came here and it was the one. It’s a one and half hour drive to Calais and I can salvage the shuttle back to Epping (the family house).
‘Here I can take my kids to the zoo here and they’re no longer saying, “Approach on dad” because folk are asking for photos or autographs. There’s a puny pub around the nook the place me and a couple of the boys went to watch Newcastle beat PSG the alternative week. What a game! No one said a phrase to me.”
Normality is something he left behind a long time ago. Those days when football was appropriate a interest – the pure pleasure that he felt when he practised headers in their council house garden in Gateshead. Over our dinner, a margherita pizza, a smile beams across his face as he reminisces about these early days.
‘There’s a relate at house of me appropriate born, first day in the house, lying there as a one-day weak baby with a bottle of Brown Ale on one facet and a football on the alternative. That was my dad. My mam says, “Scrutinize at this relate! The idiot done this in the occasion you had been one day weak!”
‘He labored in a steel factory, building parts for ships, and me mam labored as a cook dinner in an weak folk’s house. Dad came house, about 5 o clock, and straight away, we spent an hour or two in the garden earlier than dinner. Throwing balls up, saying “Both toes – left, apt, left apt” and I was appropriate appreciate, “Throw it up and let me head it!”.
‘In each single place I went I had a ball beneath my arm. My dad can’t drive so me mam took me to all the games. Travelling to Scotland, Manchester, all over the place. There was no sat navs back then. A lot of dead ends, wrong ways and screaming over the map!’
Stopping to re-tie his trademark pony tail that has come unfastened, he discusses how he would have applied to the army if football had no longer labored out having accomplished a week’s trial at the age of 16, though a first contract from Newcastle achieve an halt to that idea. The money adopted.
‘It’s hard, really hard. It was appropriate coming in my bank and going straight back out, even supposing me mam and dad had been telling me no longer to. You’re 17 years weak and getting all this money. All your mates haven’t acquired anything so that you take them with you.
Carroll was out-of-favour at Reading and told his agent he wanted a new challenge abroad
Carroll with companion Billi Mucklow at the Notre-Dame Cathedral this month. They married in 2022
‘I wasted money on boring things. I’d lumber to Harrods in London and use five-grand on rubbish. I’d have nothing to display for it. Simply gone. In the dressing room everyone’s walking round with Lamborghinis or clothier garments. I’ve acquired money and I’m thinking “They’re doing it… I’ll attain it as well”. I wanted an unfamiliar cat. Chanced on this Bengal and acquired it. Admire a thousand pound. I had it for 2 weeks (he gave it to his parents).
‘Thinking back, it’s mad. There are so many things I know now that I want I knew then. The younger kids are getting their money and driving around in a brand-new car. Next minute it’ll be gone and he won’t have a house or anything. There has to be a foundation or a belief the place they inform these guys what to attain. Something’s acquired to happen. You salvage a lump of money at 17 and it appropriate goes.’
Carroll picks out 2010 as the most interesting year of his football life, although there was a titanic shock coming. He scored 19 goals as Newcastle won promotion and took ownership of town’s iconic No9 jersey. And then he was sold.
‘I’d appropriate sold my dream house in Newcastle. I was about to signal a new contract and then it will get pulled away from me and you’re gone. To be honest, I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t really want to lumber but you’re being told you have to lumber.
‘It came up on Sky Sports News saying £30million for Andy Carroll from Tottenham rejected. Then it says Liverpool £35million accepted. I went in to gaze the manager, he rang the proprietor and the proprietor says, “Yeah, you’re gone”. There was loads of media start air the training flooring so I jumped in the back of Kevin Nolan’s car, left my car in the training flooring and we’re sitting there in his cinema room and all the news was about me.
‘I’m sitting there thinking, “What is going on?” I’m getting loads of calls from my parents, my chums saying, “What’s happening?” I didn’t know what was happening and then I salvage a phone call off my agent saying, “The helicopter’s there, we want to lumber”. I had no garments, no bag, no nothing. That was me. In much less than an hour I was gone. I’d appropriate sold a house. Spent a week doing it out. Didn’t even dwell in it!”
It was a change in extra ways than one. ‘I’ll inform you this… now you eat with the team but back then at Newcastle we would appropriate meet at 1.30 for a 3pm kick off. I won’t ever neglect, I passe to lumber to this puny pub around the nook, The White Swan. It was appreciate a Toby Carvery. Meat, Yorkshire puddings, loads of gravy. I would eat a elephantine roast, elephantine Newcastle tracksuit, and then I would appropriate lumber to the game and play.
“This one time (team-mate) Kevin Nolan rang me up and said, “Will you think me up cos my car’s no longer working… the place are you?” I said I’m appropriate having a Sunday roast and he went mental, screamed at me on the phone, “Are you joking?” and I told him I’d done that ad infinitum.
‘When I went to Liverpool, everything changed professionally. We went to a hotel earlier than the game, house and away, and had your pasta and your good fruit. I’d been eating Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Now everyone’s telling you what to eat and when to eat. It was mental. Suited and booted, in a hotel the night earlier than a game, eating apt with the lads. On a Friday night in Newcastle I was out with my mam and dad or my chums.
Carroll picks out 2010 as the most interesting year of his football life when he was on fire at Newcastle
However, he admitted he struggled to resolve and waste at Liverpool after his £35m transfer
‘At Liverpool it was a step up, it was elite. That was hard for me, thinking two weeks ago I was sitting in the pub eating food earlier than a game and now I’m doing this in a swimsuit. Clearly it’s easy to salvage on with it and deal with it but the change and these puny details had been massive.
‘I may walk down the avenue in Newcastle and I was fine. All at once, I couldn’t walk down the avenue, had folk start air my house, had security start air my house 24 hours a day because folk had been coming. I couldn’t attain anything. Loads of various emotions. The football was various, my lifestyle was various. I was 21, I was a baby. Simply me by myself. It was hard.’
The baby became the commodity. The most expensive British transfer in history.
‘When I signed at Liverpool I was injured. My timing was totally various to the lads that had been training. For the primary six weeks I by no means acquired to train with them or socialise with them. For six weeks, I by no means really bonded with anyone.
‘I’m disappointed that I didn’t really grasp Liverpool. I kind of took it for granted. I came out of faculty, went into Newcastle reserves, went into the primary team, signed for Liverpool, played for England. Everything I touched grew to develop into to gold. Maybe it went to my head a puny bit. I may attain no wrong, that form of thing. I don’t really know what went wrong. Maybe I wasn’t moral satisfactory… I don’t know. I appropriate want I’d grabbed it a puny bit extra.’
As the evening pushes on, the drinks begin to lumber along side the stream. Carroll insists on paying his way. Says he dad brought him as a lot as always pay on your round. He is filled with anecdotes. Engaging and down-to-earth, shattering any preconceived ideas.
We head back to his apartment in town centre, overlooking the cathedral, and he affords a bed for the night. The tales continue. Flying to Ibiza on a private jet with Joe Hart, going backstage at the boxing with Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Brook v Golovkin) and how he ended up buying Rod Stewart’s mansion after leaving Liverpool for West Ham.
‘The day I sold it, my parents came down and my dad couldn’t deem it was Rod Stewart’s house. He’s sitting there appropriate imagining who’s been in that bar.
‘I watched a documentary and Rod was writing Maggie May in my living room! When I sold it off him he’s acquired a elephantine-measurement football pitch with house and away dressing rooms that had been signed by players who had played there. Rangers players, Celtic players, Liverpool, Newcastle. There have been beer taps down in the bar. He passe to have parties there, the lads would play football and he would sing. It’s a mad thing, really.’
Property is one of Carroll’s passions. He talks about his investment company – 3 Property NE – and explains that when he eventually stops playing (although there are no plans to but) then he would rather use time with his five kids than lumber into football management.
Eventually we call it a night and Carroll asks to accumulate the interview in the morning. ‘I’ve acquired a bit extra that I’d appreciate to say.’ He cancels his 10am French lesson, throws on a baseball cap at the front door and we head to Starbucks for a espresso and a croissant. The conversation turns to West Ham – a place he called house – and he opens up about the challenges that make him think twice about whether he would encourage his adolescence to lumber into professional football.
The striker insisted he is embracing being a normal man the place he is now not any longer approached for photos
He was the fatherland hero at Newcastle but revealed he passe to have a roast dinner pre-game
‘I was settled at West Ham. I loved my time there, living with my companion and my kids. The last two years maybe acquired a bit stale because I was injured and nothing really went my way, but at West Ham I was happy.
‘I did my knee. Chris Smalling smashed me, Man United at Ancient Trafford, and I was gone. I couldn’t walk but we had no extra subs. I was hobbling. For 20 minutes I carried on thinking, “I am here for the team and I’m playing on no matter what”. I was jumping up for headers when my knee had gone. I had surgical operation on my ACL. I was out for months.
‘I’ve had six surgical procedures on my ankle, stored on re-fracturing. I acquired a phone call from Sam Allardyce saying, “Approach into my workplace, we want to have a conversation”. I knew I was in anguish but I didn’t know what I’d done. He says, “When was the last time you played table tennis?” Six months ago… I dunno. He says, “Had been you no longer playing on Saturday night? I’ve been told you had been drunk, playing table tennis, you won, jumped on the table and rolled your ankle”. He starts laughing.
‘Other folks had been making up tales about me and the media had been getting maintain of it. It was coming on me all the time. This happened, this happened and then it’s, “Andy Carroll’s on medication” and they’re singing a song about me. The folk shut to me know that I don’t take medication and by no means took medication.
‘I wasn’t injured because I wanted to be injured! At West Ham I had a moment the place I appropriate fell out of love with everything. I was so downhearted. I didn’t leave the house, had to wear a hat if I did. Wouldn’t exit for dinner, lunch, anything. I appropriate hated everything and everyone. I was getting abuse for being injured. It all come together and I’d had satisfactory. I had to speak to folk. I calm speak to them now, if I’m honest. I went via mad occasions in my head. Thought about quitting, I was done with it all.
‘In each single place I went I had a hat on. I wouldn’t lumber anywhere with out a hat. I’ve acquired so many hats in my house and I don’t even appreciate wearing hats! I’ve probably acquired one for each day of the year. I must have seven or eight in my car, appropriate there.
‘All these doorways have spread out for me via football and I’m grateful for that but it has challenges. Other folks examine the money but no longer the sacrifices. Even sitting having a conversation with my chums and family, if there’s someone new there, you’re always wary of the place it’s going to lumber. That’s the greatest thing: belief. My missus has been in the limelight. I’ve been in the limelight. My kids had been appropriate born into our life and it’s hard for them. For me, that’s the battle extra than anything.’
At some point, when he has chanced on a suitable house and schooling, his family will join him in France. His life has been one transfer after another but now, at 34, he feels settled in his mind. Before we lumber our separate ways, waving us off at the train station, we come back to the opening question: why is he here? This time he has had a night to sleep on it.
‘I say a lot to Billi, my companion, that I want I may appropriate walk down the avenue and be me. No one really sees me. I’m always keeping up appearances. The only sanctuary I have is at house. That’s the only place I can be me. You’re always reserved, you’re always working, you’re always wary. It’s no longer really a way to dwell, is it?
‘I dwell in Epping and I walk down the avenue and I’m fine because everyone’s considered me there. Nonetheless calm, I’ve calm been papped walking the canine, with the kids, having dinner in a restaurant. Someone takes a relate of me and Billi having a glass of wine in one of the restaurants. You’re always jumpy.
Carroll, 34, admitted he made mistakes in his youthful years but is enjoying life in France
At some point, when he has chanced on a suitable house and schooling, his family will join him in France but they did come out to lumber to him and watch him play for Amiens earlier this month
‘Joe Cole said to me that going to America was the most interesting thing he’s ever done because he’d walk down the beach in his shorts and flip-flops and play volleyball with the locals. He was appropriate “English Joe”. He was relaxed. He loved it. That’s what life needs to be.
‘I’ve signed two years here and I’ve acquired no plans of stopping. I appropriate love playing football to be honest. It doesn’t matter what level it’s. I left faculty and have basically been getting paid to attain my interest. If I’d only done it one time at Newcastle and by no means done it again then I’d have been happy. Except you’ve stepped foot on a pitch and had that enhance around you, I can’t even categorical how it feels. If I was working any other job I’d have been playing football at any chance I acquired, anyway. I’m lucky that I’m getting paid to attain something that I really appreciate doing.
’I’m content. For the last few years, I appropriate feel I know who I am and I’m comfortable. No one can achieve me back the place I was. You may throw anything at me now and I absorb safe in myself. I’m comfortable. Here I can walk into the bakery and salvage a pain au chocolate and no one’s saying, “How was the game? Can I salvage a relate?” Here I absorb appreciate I’m normal. I appropriate wanted to salvage out. Be free. Be me.’
This free transfer is a free man in France. English Andy, blending in with the locals.
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