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Interviews

First, Best, Worst: Michael Turner

From Play-Off pain to Phil Brown’s infamous half-time team talk, we chat to Michael Turner about his first, best and worst moments in professional football

24 January 2018

Michael Turner arrived from Charlton Athletic’s youth academy in August 2004.

Initially signing a one-month loan, the deal was repeatedly extended until he signed a permanent contract that November. A key figure at the heart of The Bees defence, Michael helped Brentford to two consecutive Play-Off appearances. Highly regarded, he was named as the Players’ Player of the Year for 2004/05 and the Supporters’ Player of the Year for 2005/06. 

Having departed in July 2006, he went on to play in the Premier League for Hull City, Sunderland and Norwich City. Still a full-time member of the Football League circuit, Michael is currently plying his trade in League One with Southend United. First seen in BEES matchday programme, we sit down with Michael to discuss the memorable moments of a 16-year career.

 

FIRST…

Time you signed an autograph

It would have been when I was travelling with Charlton’s First Team at the age of 18 or 19. Initially it was a little bit surreal; it was a special feeling to be able to make someone happy by signing a piece of paper. I practiced a lot at one stage when I was younger, hoping that one day I would be signing autographs for real.

 

Game for Brentford

My first game for Brentford was away at Chesterfield. I’d arrived on the Thursday, trained in the morning and we travelled up there the next day. It didn’t go too well - we lost 3-1 with Wayne Allison scoring the opener within 20 minutes. My first game at Griffin Park came the following Tuesday and it went a little better, beating Doncaster Rovers 4-3. I recall being grateful for the opportunity of First-Team football. I’d dropped two divisions to sign for Brentford, but I was playing in the reserves at Charlton Athletic so I considered League One to be a step up. 

 

Time you played in front of the TV cameras

I think it was when Brentford played Bristol City in the FA Cup. Initially it was a bit strange because you know your mates are watching back home, so you almost try a little bit harder. Although it was a big moment for me, I managed to put it to the back of my mind and settle into the game quite quickly. After a while the novelty wears off and you get used to it. It just becomes like any other game.

 

BEST…

Game for Brentford

Beating Sunderland in 2006, hands down. It was an FA Cup Third Round fixture and we were at home in front of a packed house. I loved turning out at Griffin Park and hearing the backing of the Brentford fans, particularly for big occasions like that. Sunderland were still a Premier League side at the time and, although they were struggling that year, beating a top tier team is always special.

 

Player you faced during your time at Brentford

Dean Windass when he was at Bradford City - he always gave me a tough time! Although he was a brilliantly talented striker, he was set apart by his experience and know-how. He had played at the top level, so it was a good learning curve for me as a young defender.

 

Team-mate at Griffin Park

We had lots of good players during my time at the Club, but I would have to say Sam Sodje; he was key to my development. We knew each other’s games really well, which meant that we could bring the best out of each other. Sam and I were good foil for one another.

 

WORST… 

Moment as a Brentford player

During my two seasons at Brentford we got to the Play-Offs both times, which was a really good achievement. Sadly, though we never got past the semis, so I would say those losses were among my worst experiences with The Bees. It’s not only because you’ve come so close to playing in a Wembley Final, but also because you’ve spent the whole season fighting for promotion. To fall at the final hurdle was really disappointing.

 

Thing you had to do in training

Running! Martin Allen used to love setting out tough running sessions. I remember we once had a keep-ball session across two full pitches, which was ridiculous. It was just one of Martin’s crazy ways!

 

Telling off from a Manager

That would have been from my time at Hull City. We were losing 4-0 to Manchester City by half-time, so, when the whistle went, Phil Brown sat us down on the pitch and told us off. I don’t think it helped us too much going forwards, and although some of the players were a bit disappointed with it, it was just one of those things. He’s my current Manager at Southend United, so I have to be careful what I say about it!

 

For more exclusive content, pick up a copy of BEES matchday programme, on sale around Griffin Park for just £3.50. 


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