Neil Martin - Q&A

Living now: East Lothian, Scotland
Born: 1940
Occupation now: Retired


As a youngster, who was the biggest influence on your career?
Dickie Russell up in Tranent, Scotland. He got all the local lads together and started a football team called Tranent Arsenal.

How did you come to join Sunderland?
I was transferred from Hibernian in 1965

How do you remember your Sunderland debut?
Scoring at Hillsborough!

What was your most memorable match as a Sunderland player?
Playing my first game against Manchester United with Bobby Charlton, Denis Law & George Best in the team. I scored both of our goals but we still lost 3-2.

And the worst?
Losing 1-0 against Norwich in the FA Cup at home, after drawing away.

Which do you consider your best goal for Sunderland?
Probably the goal against Newcastle at St James Park in the 3-0 victory, a cracking header from a Len Ashurst cross.

Who was the best player you player alongside at Sunderland?
It has to be Jim Baxter, he was a class act. Although he didn't show his true ability, like he did for Scotland & Rangers.

Who was the best you played against?
There were so many great players in the sixties, but I have to go for Bobby Charlton. He was an outstanding all-round footballer.

What’s the greatest moment of your playing career?
Playing against Italy at Hampden Park in the World Cup qualifying game in 1965 - we beat them 1-0 in from of 100,000 fans.

Who do you rate as the best manager you player under?
Without a doubt, it has to be Jock Stein - he was manager of Hibs & Scotland when I player for them.

What was the funniest incident you recall during a game?
I played in that many relegation battles with Sunderland, Coventry & Forest - that I can't remember ANY funny moments!

What was the best part of being a professional footballer?
Being paid to keep fit, playing against great teams and seeing the world.

And the worst?
Losing - especially at home.

Looking back at your playing career, any regrets?
Yes, signing for Alloa, instead of rangers (when I was 18). It took 3 years to get to the top with Hibs.

What did you do as your playing career ended?
I went into coaching with Dave Mackay. We had ten great years in Kuwait & Dubai, then I had two pubs in Birmingham.

What are doing these days?
Not a lot! Enjoying retirement back in Tranent, and visiting my family who still live in Birmingham.

What’s the most important thing in your life at present?
My wife and I both having good health and still enjoying ourselves after 46 years of marriage.

Any other comments?
I think it's a great thing that I am made welcome at all the clubs I've had the privilege to play for. I'm looking forward to seeing the Stadium of Light, although the atmosphere at Roker Park will be hard to beat.

Favourites

Team (as a kid) - Local team, Tranent Juniors
Boyhood footballing idol - Gordon Smith - Hibs FC
Best friend in football - Peter Cormack (Hibs, Forest & Liverpool)
Favourite ground (other than Roker) - Easter Rd (Hibs)
Favourite current Premiership player - Ronaldo
Favourite current Premiership manager - Alex Fergsuson
Singer - Jerry Lee Lewis
Film star - John Wayne
Film - The Alamo
TV programme - Rab C Nesbitt
Past-time (except football) - Walking & gardening
Food - Steak & stovies
Holiday - Majorca

If you could meet one person in the world, who would it be?
Mohammed Ali.