A former England Under-21 international, Richard Lee came up through the ranks at Watford, making over a century of appearances for The Hornets before moving to TW8 in 2010.
He proved to be an instant success, helping The Bees through four penalty shoot-outs to guide them to the Fourth Round of the League Cup and the Final of the Football League Trophy. He would go on to spend five years at Griffin Park, making 87 appearances before hanging up his gloves in 2015.
Still heavily involved in football, Richard runs 70 goalkeeping schools worldwide. He also works with a number of current professionals, including current England and Stoke City star, Jack Butland.
Time you signed an autograph
It would have been when I was at Watford, aged 16 or 17. It had always been my dream to be a footballer and, when I was a kid, I realised that I would have to have a decent autograph, so I practiced it when I was at school. Every one of my notebooks was full of them! So, when I was first asked it was a bit weird, but it was more exciting that I could finally do something that I had been perfecting for five years! To be fair, it hasn’t changed much. I’ve still got the same signature now that I had when I was 12.
Game for Brentford
My first game was Kevin O’Connor’s Testimonial at Griffin Park. We played Fulham and lost 5-0 – I was dreadful! Thankfully, it soon picked up as I was given a run of cup games that went very well and allowed me to win my place back in the team. I ended up being named Player of the Season, so it was a happy ending, but it certainly didn’t start very well!
Time you played in front of the TV cameras
I did always get a little more nervous when the TV cameras were around, as I was aware that there were more eyes watching. My first experience was very early on in my career, during my second game for Watford against Queens Park Rangers.
During that match there was a pivotal moment in my career as, at 0-0, I dropped a cross that allowed the opposition to score. Luckily, it was disallowed for a foul and we ended up winning the game 3-0. I kept my place and managed to get into the England Under-21 squad.
With the power of social media, you now have to be so mentally strong as people are often more happy to criticise than praise. To become a professional you have to be able to take people’s comments with a pinch of salt because you’re not going to make it if you can’t accept a little bit of stick from time to time.
Moment as a Brentford player
My best game was probably against Everton. One moment that really sticks out was when Phil Jagielka hit the post right at the end. I had not got off to a good start at Brentford and I felt that I was almost in the last chance saloon so, in those circumstances, it couldn’t have got any better. Other than that, it was being named as the Player of the Season. It was something that I had always dreamed of winning and I wasn’t expecting it. What made it really special was that it was chosen by the fans; when my name was read out it was a really proud moment.
Player you faced
It would have to be Cristiano Ronaldo. I played against Manchester United three times when I was at Watford and conceded ten goals! Wayne Rooney scored three and Ronaldo himself bagged a couple – they were just so clinical. Their speed of play was so quick and they seemed to spend the entire game camped in our half.
Thing about playing for Brentford
I just felt at home. As a goalkeeper, there’s nothing like knowing that the fans have your back. The fact that they sung my name as much as they did, especially when they chanted the ‘with Richard Lee in goal, it’s gonna be alright’ song for 90 minutes away at Tranmere Rovers when I made my comeback. It was just so great to step out feeling that the fans had confidence in me.
Moment as a Brentford player
Definitely injuries. With each one I felt less able and naturally less confident in what I could offer. The worst one was dislocating my shoulder before the Wembley Final, which was obviously a real low point. The injuries are sill there: I see a physio every week and I recently had to have an injection in my shoulder, from the Brentford doctor funnily enough! it’s all part and parcel of being a goalkeeper and throwing yourself on the floor for 25 years! I actually played a game a few weeks ago and got through it fine. I also played in a couple of charity games in the summer, so I am alright. I’m glad I retired when I did though, otherwise I would be in a little more trouble!
Kit you had to wear
I never had it too bad. I had a light blue one at Watford, but I really liked it and, even at Brentford, they were all pretty good. So I think I was quite lucky – either that, or I have no taste!
Thing you had to do in training
I was older when I got to Brentford so they were pretty good and didn’t quite work me too hard. There was one drill though called ‘12 saves’, which meant you were up and down for about a minute and it left you with your hands on your knees for about ten minutes afterwards! Some of the exercises on the rower were also pretty bad – it’s just the worst piece of equipment ever designed! You literally fall off it feeling sick after a while. It was all good at the time, but I don’t think I’d do the exercise ever again. I barely break out of a walk these days!
Telling off from a manager
Uwe Rosler could throw a cup of tea around and I had a couple of shouting matches with him! That being said, I have a lot of time for him and he was great for me. I played under Ray Lewington, Luca Vialli, Malky Mackay, Andy Scott, but it was only really Uwe that gave me a proper telling off. Thankfully, I escaped a lot of the ear bashings!
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