Ian Atkins - Q&A

Living now: Solihull
Born: 1957
Occupation now: Football manager & coach


As a youngster, who was the biggest influence on your career?
My father, Alan Durban and Ritchie Barker.

How did you come to join Sunderland?
In a swap deal with Alan Brown and $0,000 going to Shrewsbury Town.

How do you remember your Sunderland debut?
Aston Villa away, we won 3-1 (against the European Cup Holders) I thought it was this easy every week!

What was your most memorable match as a Sunderland player?
The above, but also Liverpool away when we won 1-0 from a Gary Rowell penalty.

And the worst?
Watford away, an 8-0 reverse! We should have been 2-0 up in 20 minutes, but they scored 8 lucky goals and hit the bar twice. It wasn't a happy coach on the way home.

Which do you consider your best goal for Sunderland?
2, both at Roker. Manchester City, when we won 3-2 and against Ipswich, but we lost 2-3. Both were 30-yarders into the Fulwell End, and both in the top left hand corner!

Who was the best player(s) you played alongside at Sunderland?
Barry Venison, All McCoist, Nick Pickering & Paul Bracewell were all terrific young players. But, in the short spell he was at Roker, Frank Worthington was a genius on the ball.

Who was the best you played against?
The toughest was Mick Harford, Paul Walsh was the trickiest.

What’s the greatest moment of your playing career?
Playing at the top level and winning the Championship level with Everton (apart from pulling the red and white short on every week!).

Who do you rate as the best manager you player under?
Alan Durban - it was a shame people lost patience with him at Sunderland, it was the best young and potential side I played in. People just didn't see the bigger picture.

What was the funniest incident you recall during a game?
Every Saturday, we'd watch Gordon Chisholm try to find his team-mates with a pass.

What was the best part of being a professional footballer?
Winning, playing and training - and the living it has given me.

And the worst?
Simple. Losing.

Looking back at your playing career, any regrets?
None, I had a good upbringing at Shrewsbury. And, if someone had said I'd end up playing for Sunderland, Everton, Ipswich & Birmingham - I'd be delighted. Four great clubs.

What did you do as your playing career ended?
Straight into managing and coaching. I've taken all my licence's, including the prop licences.

What are doing these days?
Live commentaries on BBC Northants, and scouting for a variety of clubs.

What’s the most important thing in your life at present?
Health & happiness for me and my family.

Any other comments?
It was a fantastic honour not only to play for Sunderland, but also to captain the club to it's highest position for many years. My son follows the club around when he can - I've bought him up on red and white!

Favourites

Team (as a kid) - Birmingham City
Boyhood footballing idol - No-one in particular
Best friend in football - Gordon Chisholm
Favourite ground (other than Roker) - Villa Park
Favourite [former] premiership player - Roanldo (MUFC)
Favourite current premiership manager - Ferguson
Singer - Bruce Springsteen
Film star - Don't have one - never watch films!
Film - As above - I'm never in them!
TV programme - Only Fools & Horses
Past-time (except football) - Rugby
Food - Most fish
Holiday - Tenerife

If you could meet one person in the world, who would it be?
Gordon Chisholm at the bar when he puts his hand in his pocket to buy a round! He's not tight, just very careful.
I think Benno's the same!