James Perch

In the latest edition of our popular feature, taken from Sunday's matchday programme against West Ham, United's stars talk candidly about their life on and off the pitch. Next up is defender James Perch, who reveals all about life as a striker, iPod pressure and never wearing a jacket...

 

I sit in between Willo and Steven Taylor in the changing room.

They aren't too bad and definitely could be a lot worse.

Willo is quiet, I chat to him all the time, and Tayls is just his normal self - funny and got all the banter.

Sitting next to Cheick would be a nightmare. He takes forever to get ready, has so much stuff and boots everywhere, would be smelling of vapour rub and Deep Heat.

I'd just rather chill out and sit down rather than get stressed out by what he's up to!

 

I idolised the old Ronaldo when I was growing up - he was my hero.

I just thought he was brilliant. He did everything - played for the best team, scored the best goals.

With my goalscoring ability I've definitely modelled myself on him!

 

I was a striker when I was younger, but that just got knocked out of me and I got turned into a centre-back and defensive midfielder.

At the age of 14 I was a striker and was going to get released from Nottingham Forest.

Then our right-back got injured so I went there for a game and the rest is history. They kept me on as a right-back and ended up releasing the other lad.

So I stayed on and it was lucky how it came about, but that's football sometimes.

 

I loved my time at Nottingham Forest.

Having come up through the ranks there I captained them, spent a lot of years there and there was a lot of local lads in the team so it was a really good group.

We were unfortunate not to get the promotions that we would have liked - and probably deserved - but we came close on a couple of occasions.

It was very good times and I still keep in touch with the staff and some of the players down there.

I thought I was going to be a one-club man at one stage, only playing for Forest my entire career.

But you then get to the stage where you begin to be part of the furniture at the club and that was the moment I realised that I had to move on.

 

I hold a record for being booked in each of my first five Premier League games.

People say it's an unwanted record but I don't look at it like that.

For me, I'm happy to have a piece of history, whether it's good or bad.

It's something to tell the kids and grandkids when they're older! When they look in the record books they will see that I'm the first player to the first five bookings! So I don't see it as too bad.

 

I have had a tricky couple of years at Newcastle.

I came up here, didn't start well and didn't play much in the first year.

But I stuck at it, the new gaffer came in and even though I still didn't play for a little while, I never gave up and am getting the benefits from that now.

I have come up against some great players over the years, but the best has to be Luca Modric when we played away at Tottenham last season.

I chased him around for 90 minutes and couldn't get near either him or the ball!

Charles N'Zogbia was also very good when I played against him - very difficult - so I would say he is up there too.

 

I play a lot of X-Box.

There's a small handful of us who play a lot - me, Ryan and Gos.

We have a FIFA trophy that got presented to Ryan last year when he won the players' tournament at the Club, and we just put that on the line all the time.

We play first to three, and Gos has got it at the moment.

Overall though I've had it the most, so I'm the best. Gos is close second and Ryan is miles behind.

 

I try to read and was getting through a book about what dogs think because I was interested in knowing what was going through my dog's mind!

But I started that on pre-season tour in Germany back in July and still haven't finished, so that tells you a lot about my reading habits!

I get a book for holiday, like everyone does, and never, ever finish them, so there's probably five or six books in my house that are half-read and will never be finished!

 

I have got two dogs - one of which I only picked up on Friday.

The oldest is a chocolate Labrador, which is 13 months old, and then the newest addition is a black Labradoodle puppy.

 

I don't have much of a pre-match meal.

Instead I have big meal the night before a game and on matchday I eat very light because I prefer to play when I'm hungry.

Sometimes it will just be a bowl of cereal in the morning and that will do me. It's just something I've always done

 

I can listen to anything when it comes to music.

My favourite group is Bloc Party. I listen to them all the time and have got all their albums.

It's maybe not the sort of music people would think I'm into, but I really like them.

Steven Taylor sorts out the music in the dressing room and he does a good job in keeping everyone happy - there's something for everyone.

He hasn't been there a couple of times this season and that creates a lot pressure because you don't want to stick your iPod on and for it to be rubbish!

Stoney usually puts his on and it's very safe with a bit of Rhianna, but then there's someone like Cheick with his French rap which is very different!

 

I have got seven tattoos and I want more.

Your first one, you look back and always wish you had done it bigger.

At the time when I was getting it done though I thought it was massive - like a sleeve! But it was terrible and small.

They all mean something, however, in their own way.

I'm after more though and in an ideal world I would want someone to come to my house and do it.

I want my own personal tattooist rather than going to a shop, then having to stand there and pick something.

If I could get tattooed tomorrow without the hassle of going to a shop then I would.

 

I have a few superstitions I guess, but I don't call them that - they are just things I do.

They change from season to season, but this year I don't wear a tracksuit jacket on a matchday.

So whether it's freezing cold or boiling hot, it's always just a polo shirt for me. That could be a bit of a problem in the winter up here though!

Since I haven't been wearing a jacket and have been wearing the same pair of trainers, we have only lost one game that I have played in - at home against Manchester United.

I also have worn the same pair of shinpads since the age of 16.

I played one game without them and it was just weird, it wasn't the same at all.

If Thommo (kit man Ray Thompson) ever lost them or forgot them I think I'd go mad!

 

To buy a Newcastle United shirt with James Perch's name and number on the back, click here