Danis Salman was brought to Brentford by John Docherty in 1975, making his debut two months later at the age of 15. He is still the Club’s youngest ever league debutant.
He would go on to spend 11 seasons in West London, playing a key role as The Bees gained promotion to Division Three in 1978.
Popular on the terraces, Danis was inducted into Brentford’s Hall of Fame in September 2014.
First seen in BEES matchday programme, we sit down with Danis to discuss his time in TW8.
Time you signed an autograph
I was actually quite young, funnily enough. I was successful in schoolboy football and, living in Barking, I had a lot of female fans! There were always young ladies asking for my autograph and phone number but, being quite young and naïve, I hadn’t a clue what it meant! The first occasion would have been when I was about 13; a lady came up to me after school with her daughter and asked for my autograph, telling me that she thought I’d be famous one day. I was very flattered but a tad confused!
Game for Brentford
I was only 15 at the time. I got a knock on the door while I was doing some homework and a guy from The Sun came up and told me that he’d heard I would be making my debut that week. What he’d said was true - I found that I was going to be in the squad to play Watford at Griffin Park. It was an evening kick-off so I was picked up from school by a cab and taken to the ground. I came off the bench and I think we won 1-0, but I can’t remember too much about the day because it was a bit of a blur.
Time you realised you could make a career out of football
Well, I never thought that I wouldn’t! I wasn’t a big-headed person at all, my mum and dad kept me well-grounded like typical Mediterranean parents. I remember going to my school Careers Officer when I was about 14. When he asked me what I wanted to do and I told him that I wanted to play football, he spent the next 45 minutes trying to persuade me that I was being foolish and that I should be more realistic, telling me that I could work for a good wage in a bank or an office. I didn’t take any notice of him because all I had ever wanted to do was play football and I never really doubted that I would be able to do it.
Time you played in front of the TV cameras
It was probably a cup match against Liverpool at Griffin Park when we lost 4-1. They had just won the European Cup with Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson and Kenny Dalglish but we took the lead and I hit the post from 25 yards with my left foot, which was unheard of! We came in at half-time thinking we could win it, but in the second half they came out and we just couldn’t get the ball!
Game you played in for Brentford
One that stands out was when we played against Bristol Rovers just after Frank McClintock arrived as Manager. I was playing centre-half that day and he came up to me after the game and told me that it was the best performance he had ever seen from any player and that I should definitely be playing at a higher level. It was an honour to hear that from somebody like Frank, who had played in the top tier himself.
I always used to get up and do the same things in the morning, though most people do that. Being a Cypriot Muslim, my Mum had a prayer written on a piece of paper, which she would fold up and put inside a small pocket, no bigger than a two pence piece. She thought that it would help me and, as a good son who always listened to his mother, I would always attach it to the inside of my shorts before every game.
Player you faced during your time at Brentford
When we played against Liverpool, Dalglish and Ian Rush were playing together up front and I was marking Rush, who was prolific at the time. I had him in my pocket all game! We were both quick, but he didn’t manage to get the better of me and couldn’t even get a kick in the first half. In the second half, even though he barely did anything, he still scored two goals from inside the six-yard box! It demonstrated why they were such great players because, even though we were playing well, they still managed to create opportunities and score goals when they really needed to.
Moment as a Brentford player
There was a time when I wanted to move on. I had been at Brentford for quite a few years and I was doing well, but things had got a bit stale. Fred Callaghan, the Manager at the time, told me that, if I signed contract and I still wanted to go, he would let me leave. By the end of the season, I still felt that I needed a new challenge but they didn’t let me go.
I then ruptured a thigh muscle, but the Club thought I was faking it so they made me train, which was a nightmare. Eventually, I went to a specialist who told me that, because the muscle had torn so many times, I needed surgery to remove a golf ball-sized lump of scar tissue. After that I managed to get fit again, but I was very disappointed with the way that I had been treated. I would never want to put blame on anybody, but that year was probably the darkest I had ever had in professional football.
Telling off from a manager
Again, it came from Fred Callaghan. We were playing away from home and I tried to chest the ball back to the keeper. It was intercepted, they scored and we lost the game. When I got in at half-time, he took me off straight away and absolutely lambasted me! I got into the shower when everyone else went out for the second half and Frank McClintock followed me in and continued to berate me. He had a sheepskin coat on and it was getting soaked! They ended up leaving the ground without me and I had to find my own way home. That row made the papers - I think I still have the cutting somewhere!
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