As everyone’s eyes are on the Euro 2012 championship at the moment, are you disappointed to be watching from home after coming so close to qualifying?
It is very disappointing. We were so close and just came up short. But we need learn from our mistakes and get better as a team to hopefully qualify for the next world cup!
How old were you when you first started playing football and did you always want to be a goalkeeper?
I started when I was 4 and I have always been a goalkeeper. I never wanted to be anything else or ever play any other position.
Where and when did you get your big break?
My big break was when I was 16 and was given the chance to come to Portsmouth on trial. That was my big break and my first big chance to go and make a career for myself.
Did you face any obstacles along the way, ever think you weren’t going to make it to where you are now and if so how did you get past the obstacles?
Well you face obstacles all the time, there are always other goalkeepers who are fighting for the same place as you and you always have to compete with someone. But if you stay on track and focus on your goal you have a good chance of making it. I have thankfully stayed clear of injuries and they can make things difficult for players.
Who was your biggest influence growing up?
My parents were the biggest influence on me growing up. They sacrificed loads and always made sure I could follow my dream and helped with everything.
How do you prepare for a big game?
I try and keep my routine the same for every game, sometimes things change and you adapt as you go. Every goalkeeper develops their own routines which helps them prepare for a game. Routines are important I believe as they keep you relaxed and help you focus for the game.
Any tips on warm-ups?
Warm ups are there to help you get used to the venue and conditions of the day. It is not a training session in my eyes. I don’t want it to be too physical and just use it more to get a feel for the ball and the weather conditions of the day.
Are you superstitious or do you have any pre-game rituals?
As I said before, I have a routine more than anything. I think sometimes when people have superstitions and something goes wrong you might be put off and not focus properly. So a routine I feel works well and gets you ready to play the game.
What techniques do you employ to keep focused for the full 90 minutes?
It’s important to communicate with the players in front of you, that helps keep you in the game. Keeping hydrated is important, so having a drink from time to time is a good idea. Generally, it’s not too difficult to stay focused as you get so into the game that it’s tough to break the concentration.
What goalkeeper gloves do you wear and how important is the right goalkeeper glove to you?
I wear Sells Goalkeeper Gloves. They are the most important piece of kit for us goalkeepers obviously. The feel and grip is everything when it comes to gloves and I am very lucky that I get mine customised. Trying a few pairs on is very important so that you get the right one.
What are the main features you look for in a goalkeeper glove?
The fit and the quality of grip are the main features I look for and feel are the most important.
Since you’ve started playing what is the most important bit of advice youve been given and by whom?
The best piece of advice I was given is to always take responsibility for yourself, make decisions that you want and are best for yourself so that you never regret anything later on in life.
What’s been your biggest career highlight(s) so far?
My professional debut, premier league debut, and my 1st cap are the main highlights and will always be the things I will remember the most.
Who is/has been your toughest opponent and do you prepare differently to face them? (Team and player)?
There isn’t one to pick out to be honest. Every opponent has its different challenges and you have to prepare accordingly. I know its a cliche, but it really is focusing on just one game at a time.
Any advice you could give to young goalkeepers trying to break through?
Believe in yourself and just take responsibility for yourself and your career.
Away from the football pitch and training ground what do you enjoy doing?
I love spending time with my family. As for downtime, I love watching movies, reading, and watching other sports.
How much of a difference was playing in Europe last year compared to the Premiership?
Playing in Europe is very different, as it is much more of tactical game. The pace of the game is also much different as the pace of the premier league is so fast. But it was a great experience for everyone involved and we want to get back there as soon as we can.
What football club do you support?
Bayern Munich is the team I support. Have done since I was a kid, so they have always been my team.
Where do you see stoke finishing this year and do you have any pre-season aims as a club and individual for where you want to finish?
Well again as every year the main goal is to stay in the league. But after that we would love to improve on this year and push up the table. I think so far every year we have improved as a club and we want to keep progressing every year.