PAUL BLACK ON MOVING TO CHELTENHAM
Feature: Cheltenham Town signing Paul Black on moving down from Manchester
By Robin Jenkins, By Gloucestershire Echo, July 26, 2014
When I was a boy I dreamed of being a professional footballer.
Because it’s the dream job in many people’s eyes - getting paid for playing the beautiful game that arouses so much passion in so many people.
But as I’ve got older I’ve realised that, as with most things in life, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Take Paul Black, one of Cheltenham Town’s summer signings, for example. Though he loves living the dream, he’s got tales to tell that may raise a few eyebrows.
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Left-back Paul Black signs one-year contract with Cheltenham Town
Like the fact that he was paid by Mansfield Town for the whole of last season without playing a single first team match - despite not being injured and having previously played more than 100 games at a higher level.
Paul’s situation, caused by him not being in his manager’s plans, meant an entire season passed him by.
And before you get tempted to say you don’t feel sorry for him as he was getting paid a good wage, yes he was still on the League Two club’s payroll but he was not earning anything like the mind-boggling amount handed out to some Premier League stars. Nobody in the lower leagues is.
Add the fact that Paul was many miles from his Manchester-based familyand living in a less-than-desirable part of Mansfield in digs allocated to him by the club, and you start to appreciate why he was not happy.
Now aged 24, the left back has been brought to Cheltenham by Robins’ boss Mark Yates to be part of a young team he hopes will be hungry for action and success.
Paul can’t wait to get started and views his move to Cheltenham as a chance to resume his career and enjoy his life again.
He said: “I’m desperate to play football. I used to do my own training at weekends in Mansfield. When you go through that, it takes a lot of discipline and mental strength.
“I got burgled a few times. The club had put me in a dodgy part of the town.
“Now I feel like I’ve come out of prison.
“I love it in Cheltenham. I like the simple things in life - having a coffee, reading a book in the park and having a walk around. I think Cheltenham caters for that quite well.”
Unlike Mansfield, Cheltenham Town have not told Paul where to live - leaving him free to get his own place and not have to share with another player.
He has chosen to live alone in a smart rented flat in Pittville, just a two-minute walk from the Robins’ ground in Whaddon Road.
A copy of Bob Dylan’s autobiography on his coffee table gave a small hint that Paul is a bit of a thinker and may have more about him than some of the less intelligent members of his profession.
“I cringe when I see some players interviewed on TV and they haven’t got much to say,” he said.
He is using the spare time he gets when not playing matches or training, to do a home-based sports media degree but he remains ruthlessly focussed on playing professional football again as soon as he can.
So, missing his family too much and having a girlfriend are not on his agenda because he does not want to have any distractions
“I don’t get homesick. My family know the situation. I’m 100 per cent focussed on my football.
“I won’t stop working until I’ve got success in the game or I fail. That’s how I operate. I’m all or nothing,” said the Manchester United fan who, like Reds’ legend Ryan Giggs, practices yoga to try to look after his body as best he can.
Once put on stand-by for the England under-18s team when he was playing for League One Oldham, Paul has come to know that football can be a fantastic but also cruel business.
As well as the Mansfield let-down, he has had to move about the country to find work.
Manchester City, Tranmere and Carlisle are also on the list of former clubs for Paul, who grew up in Rochdale.
“If I had some advice to youngsters, I would say they’re going to have a lot of lows, more lows than highs. It’s all about self development.
“But I’m fortunate to play football. It is the dream job, despite the negatives that come with it.”
Latest | July 2014