Growing up in Canada it would have been back in the NASL days, I went to watch Toronto Blizzard. I think it was an Exhibition match at Varsity Stadium and was against the New York Cosmos. Giorgio Chinaglia was playing for the Cosmos and I must have only been about five or six years old, but went along with my dad.
The first club I followed was actually AS Roma. Growing up in Canada, both my parents had retired and my grandfather supported Juventus, my father Lazio and so I wanted to be different. I quite liked the purple kit and went for Roma. My favourite player was Giuseppe Giannini, so that’s why I followed them.
My first proper boots were Patrick Kevin Keegan 7s. I had other boots, but I was out with my dad and I saw these Patrick ones with the big gold signature of Keegan on the side and I just said ‘I really have to have those.’
In England it was Birmingham City, but I played with the Toronto Blizzard in Canada as a trainee in the Canadian Soccer League in 1989.
If we go back to the Toronto days it was Tony Taylor. He moved to Birmingham to become the Academy Director and invited me along for a trial, which is why I joined them. He used to play as a left-back in Scotland and England and became the Canadian national team manager in 1988.
As a kid I always played as a striker, but when I first joined Birmingham they stuck me on the wing. After the first five or six games, I had scored five or six goals and then they decided that I was definitely a striker.
I made my debut against Northampton Town in October 1997 and I even managed to score on my debut. The score was 1-1. It’s always a nice thing to score in your first game, but I have been fortunate as I’ve scored on my debut at almost every club I’ve ever had – I think it was only at Norwich City on loan where I didn’t.
It was against Northampton Town, but it was a bit of scramble. I remember the ball coming in and I just swung at it, and it went in. I think Simon Morgan wanted it, but I claimed it – especially as it was my debut.
In England, the first red was against Grimsby Town in the Play-Off Semi-Final for Fulham in 1998. It was about 10 minutes into the game and I went to block the ball from the defender, but he followed through and caught my boot. And that was it, I was given my marching orders. If you look back at the video, it looked horrendous but there was nothing malicious about it as I was just trying to block the ball.
I was a number nine. Throughout my career I went from nine, to 10, to 11, to 12 and was even 13 at one point. At Birmingham, they didn’t even spell my full name, so the shirt just had ‘Pesch’ on it.
Right away, you don’t have to wait... it was Paolo Rossi. First of all, he had the same name as me, and after the 1982 FIFA World Cup he was an absolute legend. He wasn’t the biggest but he could score goals.