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Dominic Ball on the ups and downs of football, winning trophies with Rangers & leaving QPR

An interview with Dominic Ball, by Callum McFadden for WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS.

You have just published your first book – From Winning Teams to Broken Dreams: The story of six friends and their journey to make to the Premier League – what inspired you to write the book?

“I wanted to raise awareness of what it’s really like to assert yourself as a footballer. The stats show how tough it is. Less than 1% of those who play the game will make it as a top footballer.

“That shows you the reality faced by many boys and girls who dream of making it and do whatever it takes to make it happen.

“I started writing the book a few years ago at a difficult time in my career. I also wanted to include my close friends in the book because we are close friends even though our lives go in different directions.

“We all dreamed of becoming footballers and some of us made it, some didn’t, but we’re still close.

“I started writing the book about five years ago. When I got home from practice or before I left, I took time to document my thoughts on what would be in the book.

“Lockdown came and then it gave me real purpose to do it because I knew I would have more free time than usual.”

As for the lockdown, as someone who is used to going to the training ground or the stadium every day, how have you dealt with it?

“It was tough for everyone. It was foreign to all of us.

“I try to see the positive in every situation, so just before the first lockdown was announced my fiancee and I moved back in with my parents so we could have the company of others.

“They all worked long parts of the day from home so the book gave me real purpose in addition to making sure I was staying fit for the resumption of the season.

“We never knew when we would play football again, so we built a makeshift gym in the backyard, which I used to keep in shape in addition to my daily jog.”

You started your career at Tottenham Hotspur. What was it like getting through the youth department at such a big club?

“For me, that was the best place to learn at the time. The quality of the coaching and facilities at the club was outstanding.

“I was coached by Alex Ingelthorpe, who is now academy director at Liverpool, and John McDermott, who now has a senior role with the Football Association.

“They have been great with me and they have taught me what it takes to do it at the highest possible level. You were always challenged at Tottenham to get better.

“Mauricio Pochettino then came in and got me into first-team training sessions for a while, which showed me how tough the standard was at an elite Premier League level.

“I worked as hard as I could to make it but I just wasn’t ready for first-team football at Spurs. It’s all part of the journey and led to me being loaned out.”

You are on a transitional loan with Glasgow Rangers under Mark Warburton when they played in the Scottish Championship. How do you look back on your loan at the club?

“It was an incredible experience. It was the best season of my career so far.

“The fans and their passion were incredible. Winning two trophies was great too, as was beating Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-finals at Hampden. That was one of the best days of my life because so many family members were there to see it.

“The atmosphere at Ibrox was great. It was so good. I was a young player gaining experience and doing that in front of 50,000 fans every week was something I will never forget.”

You returned to Scottish football with Aberdeen, on loan from Rotherham, who you joined permanently after leaving Tottenham. What was it like working under Derek McInnes, who is highly regarded in Scottish football?

“I absolutely loved my time in Aberdeen. There was a transition period for me in the first six months as I had to adjust to living alone so far from home.

“I needed to enjoy my football again and Derek McInnes has been great for me. He instilled a winning mentality in me and the group in Aberdeen.

“He’s been great to work with and Aberdeen are a huge club. It was a well-run club that strives to be as good as possible.”

Dominic Ball QPR

They just left QPR, as did manager Mark Warburton. How do you think about your time at QPR and working with Mark again?

“When Mark called me to support him with QPR, it was a no-brainer. I wanted to challenge myself in the championship under a manager who trusts me and Mark has always believed in me.

“I played my 100th game on the last matchday and it was a great way to say goodbye to the club.

“I want to move on and play regularly at my next club because it’s frustrating not to be in the team at any level.”

They also represented England through the under-20s. How proud were you when you put on the Three Lions jersey?

“I look back on these moments with great pride because you are among the best players in the country at your age.

“Putting on this jersey and representing your country is incredible. It’s one of the highlights of my career.”

Finally, Dom, what advice would you give to young footballers who want to be successful in football?

“I learned that you have to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy what you do, you will never reach the level you want to reach.

“Work as hard as you can and try to learn as much as possible from others. Seek out the experience of those around you at the club and do whatever you can to keep learning and developing to give yourself the best possible opportunities.”

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