Interview Sam Russell


Personal Details

Grimsby Town FC
Full Name:
Sam Russell
Date of Birth:
Place of birth:
Shirt number:


Middlesbrough FC
2002 (on loan)
Gateshead FC
2002-2003 (on loan)
Darlington FC
2003 (on loan)
Scunthorpe United FC
Darlington FC
Rochdale AFC
Wrexham AFC
Darlington FC
Forest Green Rovers FC
Gateshead FC
Forest Green Rovers FC
Grimsby Town FC


Sam, Can you tell something about yourself ?

I’m just a normal Boro lad, some would say not normal, proud dad to my daughter Darcie, 38 going on 21.

Why did you start playing football? And were you immediately a goalkeeper?

Coming from the north east, your just born into it, my dad was a goalkeeper for local level and taught me everything he knew, I loved kicking a ball about every day/night, outdoor and in the house! but just seemed to be a natural thing to just be between the sticks, And my dad brought that out more in me. Big Boro fans and just wanted to one day do what my heroes did.

Sam, you signed a professional contract on 7 July 2000 for your hometown team Middlesbrough FC after progressing through their youth system. Did you noticed a lot of difference between your youth academies and senior career ?

Well coming through at Lilleshall national school, and then into academy and young pro, I’d had really good schooling and at the time Boro’s new training ground was better than most, as far as facilities I was spoilt, and my senior career has been spent in lower leagues and non-league level, a huge difference is the facilities. A big wake up call. As far as the level, also completely different. Physically and playing against season pros and playing for 3 points with crowds. Nowhere near as pretty at times but what it’s all about.

You had a successful loan spell at Gateshead FC during the tail end of the 2001–02 season. would you say it is essential for youth players to go out and get proper men’s football experience?

For me this was one of the best things I ever did, But I hated every minute, I never wanted to go there, I thought I should have went to a league team being young and impatient, and a bit naive. But my coach and hero growing up Stephen pears told me to go it will ‘toughen you up’. Well it definitely puts you in positions that you’re going to be put in In the future. A great learning curve I feel all young players HAVE to do I then went on to have successful loan in the league with a 1 game debut for Darlington and then the season after 3 months at Scunthorpe. Which the following season both came into sign me permanently.

After your time by Middlesbrough FC, you moved in the summer of 2004 to Darlington FC. where you made more than 100 league appearances during three seasons. How did you experience these period?

Looking back at it, I had some incredible times, on and of the pitch. I was early 20s and was experiencing playing most weeks, in front of brilliant support. I was learning about the ups and downs, good and bad form, dealing with mistakes, Praise and criticism, and the effects of it all on your body and confidence. I had a few injuries which was tough. I went through it all and picked up awards on the way, went close to getting into the playoffs every year missing out on the last day a few times. An eventful 3 years but great times.

In July 2007 you signed for Rochdale AFC. Why did you leave Darlington FC ? And did you noticed a lot of difference between these clubs?

I moved to Rochdale mainly on the back of having a really good game at Spotland near the end of the season. They had made contact with me in the summer, But I was told by the Darlington manager Dave Penny when season had finished I’d be offered a contract in the following week……2 weeks went past and no contact, nearly 4 went past and after originally saying no to Rochdale, Dave penny made a u turn and said no longer a deal on the table as ‘change of budget’! Again another learning curve of the bullshit side of the game! So luckily the deal was still there at Rochdale although a reduced one! But I took it a week before the season and eventually got into the team. Similar clubs at the time but a good management staff and great lads with great potential who went on to bigger and better but my first move away of many as a pro and new surroundings, something I feel you have to be willing to do

On 1 July 2016, you moved from Darlington FC to Forest Green Rovers FC. And you stay there for four seasons. How was your time there and what was your best game you’ve ever been involved in?

2012 I moved to Forest Green after a successful return to Darlington on the back of winning the trophy final at Wembley. Darlington were in a bad state financially and we went unpaid for months and due to the breaches we were all free agents and I signed in the January for Forest Green Rovers. I was signing for a huge project and was a completely different experience to any other club I’ve ever been at. Again I committed to the area and the ambition the club were showing. Eventually we made history with the club by getting promoted at Wembley. These games at Wembley were the best games I’ve been played in.

Sam, you have played more than 400 matches, what were your highs and lows during your football career?

The highs at defiantly playing and winning at Wembley with the 2 clubs I had great time at. I got on the bench in the Premier League for my home town club and just seeing your name on the back of your shirt for the first time and named in the squad was special.
The lows are picking up injuries at times when you’re on top form, being out of the team and struggling for confidence, being replaced after playing every game in a promotion winning season. Getting released from your home town club, even though I knew it was the right decision.

You’re the goalkeeper for Grimsby Town FC, but you’re also the club’s goalkeeping coach. What is your ultimate dream in after your football career ?

I haven’t thought that far ahead. I still love kicking and trying to save footballs!
Hopefully still involved in the game and passing on my knowledge and experience.

And what are your targets for this season?

My targets this season and every season till I hang them up are to stay fit and ready for when called upon, play as many games as I can till the end, and improve all the goalkeepers I work with. But overall to enjoy it. You never know when it’s going to end.


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