‘I once played against Gazza at Ibrox’

Ex-professional footballer Greig Denham, now specification manager Scotland and North-East at Roca Group, turned down Spurs to play for Rangers and during his career played against Paul Gascoigne, was part of the Scottish youth squads and appeared on stage in New York with Rod Stewart 

Q: You’ve played for quite a few Scottish teams and could even have signed for Spurs…
A: I was a schoolboy at Rangers FC having decided at the age of 14 to sign for the team I had supported all my life. That may now seem like a strange choice, considering that I had also been given the opportunity to join Tottenham Hotspur after a successful trial. But back in 1989/90, Rangers were a more successful and bigger club than Spurs.

But with Rangers signing inter-national players such as Terry Butcher, Chris Woods, Trevor Steven, Ray Wilkins, Mark Hateley and the likes, the opportunities for young, home-grown players were always going to be limited, so I made the decision to leave and move to a smaller, provincial club, which I found in Motherwell FC.

I recall making this decision based on having two ex-Rangers legends in Tommy McLean and Tom Forsyth making up the managerial team, and also my father working at the railway depot in Motherwell, so I was able to sponge a lift home in the evenings.

I served a two-year apprenticeship at Motherwell, leaving straight from school to learn my trade as a professional footballer, with my first wage slip being £85 a week.

I made my debut as a substitute against Aberdeen at the age of 18 in the Scottish Premier League. We won 2-1, and with a win bonus of £600, I felt like a millionaire. I went on to make 50 appearances for Motherwell, although this was limited by a cruciate ligament injury when I was 21 – at a time when I had been included in the Scotland Under 18 and Under 21 squads, being an unused sub on both occasions.

Greig Denham
Greig Denham

I then moved to Falkirk FC in the 2000/1 season and being named club captain in 2001/2 was a proud moment. I had recurring issues with my knee and managed 34 appearances during this time in the Scottish Championship.

From there I moved to St Mirren in the Scottish Championship in season 2002/3, making 15 appearances, although I was succumbing to injuries and frequently unable to shake off recurring knee issues.

I then played with a few lower league sides, including Stenhousemuir and Arbroath, as well as being assistant manager at East Stirling before going semi-professional with Linlithgow Rose. Winning the Scottish Cup in front of 12,000 fans was a good way to bow out of my playing career, aged 31.

Q: What was your best game?
A: My first game versus boyhood heroes Rangers live on Sky Sports was probably my favourite. Terry Butcher, who was my hero, was commentating and nominated me as his man of the match, which I was thrilled with. To be presented with a bottle of champagne live on Sky at 18 years old, playing against Brian Laudrup, Gordon Durie and Richard Gough, is a moment I will always look back at with great fondness. To get a 0-0 draw that evening was also pleasing, although my dad barely spoke to me on the way home, as he was a diehard ‘bluenose’.

Q: What’s  your favourite memory?
A: Playing at Ibrox in front of 50,000 fans, knowing I had family in every part of the ground, was very special – as was playing against the genius that was Paul Gascoigne.

I was also in the Scotland squad in 1996, which travelled to America before the Euros in England. Myself and Grant Brebner were two upcoming players at this time and had been invited to gain experience. My favourite memory of the trip was training with Rod Stewart and attending his concert at Madison Square Gardens. At the end of the concert, he invited us all on to the stage where we launched footballs into the crowd of 20,000 screaming fans.

Q: So how did you go from football to bathrooms?
A: Towards the latter part of playing semi-pro, I played against an opponent I had known from our Premier League days. He was working with another Spanish bathroom manufacturer as a business development manager. We kept in contact and when a position became available, he suggested I get in touch. This was the start of my career in construction specification, which I’ve now been in for the past 10 years.

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