Karleigh, who was your football idol growing up?
“When I was really young, about 7 or 8 years-old during my Primary school days, it was Ian Wright. I loved him, especially as an Arsenal fan myself, for me he was the main man. Then as I grew older and decided to play football more seriously, I looked out for players in my preferred position, so Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell became a heroes of mine.”
You went on trial at the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea at a young age, what happens in that situation?
“As a trialist, they don’t tend to say too much to you in fairness. For me, it was really an eye opener about what was out there. I went along trying to do the best I could. It’s never easy to get a scholarship at the big clubs when there are so many talented players who are trying out in the same position as yourself. Thankfully for me, I had good people around me with my family, coaches and friends who kept encouraging me and installing belief in me to find a club.”
What was the feeling like when Brentford snapped you up as a youngster?
“It was amazing because to be honest, I didn’t think I had done enough to get anything. I’d been on so many trials at different clubs across the country and for Brentford to say yes to me was just incredible. I think I cried on the way home from the trial in the car!”
Fast forward a few years and you were made captain of Brentford, the club who took you on as a young player. Talk us through that moment in your career.
“Obviously it was an amazing moment and huge honour for me to captain the club. I have some very fond memories there and still have some very close friends at the club so it was a real highlight of mine.”
You later joined the likes of Millwall and Bristol City, what were your personal highlights there?
“For me, my highlight at Millwall has to be reaching the F.A. Cup semi-final. It was just a huge achievement for us and one I will never forget.
At Bristol, obviously winning promotion with the boys in that team and making some life-long friends along the way.”
Stand out career highlight?
“I think being apart of a team that won promotion is always special for me but I would say my whole career in general has just been amazing. I’ve learned a lot of things along the way, my career hasn’t been perfect but I’ve fully enjoyed my playing days thus far and now I’m fully focused on my career at Plymouth.”
In your career you’ve made a few moves on loan. Tell us the difficulties that are attached with loan deals and how to players overcome those issues?
“It can be really difficult with family and stuff. Sometimes you don’t get to see them for months on end which can be really hard. Depending on what the loan agreement is, it can be tough on you as a player but it is just part and parcel of the game. Once you’ve done it a few times, you understand that it’s part of the career you’ve chosen and you have to put your head down and work hard. I would say that it’s important for young players to try and look for first team football, but it is all dependant on your circumstances. Sometimes, you might feature in the first team plans or be on the periphery but it’s important that football comes first in every decision you make.”
How’s everything going at Plymouth?
“I’m really enjoying it, the team have had a fantastic start to the season which is great. Obviously I’ve just come back from a knee injury and had a few setbacks, but I am back training with the first team which is good news. I’m just enjoying being around the place and there’s a huge hunger amongst the lads to do as best we can this season for the club.”
— Cross The Line (@crossthelinex_) October 13, 2016
How tough is it as a player when you are sidelined through injury? How do you cope with that?
“When I was younger, it used to get me down a lot. Unfortunately, it is just a part of the game that we as players must accept. I’ve personally had my fair share of injuries throughout my career but now I’m a bit older and wiser, I can look after myself better. It’s all about having a positive outlook on the situation.”
Karleigh, tell us how you became a Christian?
“My Grandparents were Christians and there were a huge influence on me. As a kid, I knew who God was but never really had that personal relationship with him. As I got older and took more notice of my faith, I found that having a relationship with Jesus is just the best thing and it can take you to a completely different place in your life.”
How would you say God has helped you through your football career?
“As I’ve understood my faith more, I think it’s grounded me as a person throughout my career.
I believe that I can achieve anything I want, some may think that some things are impossible but all things are possible with God on your side.”
Do you feel able to talk to your team-mates about your faith?
“Yeah I do feel as though I could talk to them about my faith. I’m not someone who preaches around the dressing room, but equally I don’t hide my faith. They know I am a Christian, they see me pray before and after games, so if someone wants to ask me about my faith in Jesus Christ, then I am happy to do so.”
On your Twitter profile it says, “Child of God”, tell us what this means to you?
“For me it means that I have given myself to God, therefore I am a child of the Lord. He has entrusted this career path before me and I want to give the glory back to him.”
Best player you’ve played with and best player you’ve played against?
“That’s hard! I think the best player I’ve played with has to be Jay Emmanuel Thomas, some of the stuff he does on the training ground it just crazy. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some quality players, but he is certainly up there.
The best player I’ve played against would have to be Marouane Fellaini, he was just so hard to play against. He was brilliant in the air, very strong and technically very good.
I was only 22-years-old at the time, so it was a great experience for me to play against someone like him.”