Fulham First XI

Wednesday 6 November 2013 13:00

Fulham left-back Matthew Briggs recalls his footballing past in our First XI feature.

First footballing hero

Growing up I really loved watching Ronaldinho – particularly in his Barcelona days. For a while he was the best player in the world, and on his day he was pretty much unplayable. The skills he could do were unbelievable too, I remember trying to copy a few of them!

First team supported

That would be Manchester United. As a kid they were the best team around so it was difficult not to take notice of them. Some of my family supported them, too.

First football memory

I would have probably been about eight, but the moment that really stands out would be the famous Ryan Giggs goal for United against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup Semi-Final Replay. The match had gone into extra-time, and suddenly Giggs picks the ball up on the halfway line and run towards goal, twisting the Arsenal defence inside out before slamming the ball home. It was a great goal!

First pair of boots

I remember having one of the very first pairs of adidas Predators – the red and black ones worn by David Beckham.

First team played for

That would have been Wandle Wanderers, my local junior team in Wandsworth. I loved playing for them and I learned a lot there.

First position

Well I haven’t always been a defender, I actually started out in the centre of midfield. I also played on the wing too. I remember scoring a few goals back then.

First manager

My first Manager at Fulham would have been Lawrie Sanchez who handed me my professional debut. My first manager in the Academy would have been Paul Clement, who’s now Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant at Real Madrid.

First Fulham game

I made my debut at the age of 16, as many of our fans will know. I came off the bench in a 3-1 defeat against Middlesbrough in May 2007. I made a bit of history that day because I became the Premier League’s youngest-ever player.

First Fulham goal

I’ve only scored one for Fulham, so it’s not difficult to forget. To be fair, though, it was a nice goal and one of the best I’ve ever scored. It came against Crusaders in the early stages of the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League and was the first in a 3-1 win out in Belfast. The ball dropped nicely on the edge of the box from a corner, and I smashed a swerving strike beyond the keeper.

First shirt number

As a kid I used to like to wear the number 11 shirt, especially if I was playing on the wing. But my first number at Fulham was 36 - that’s what I had on my back the day I made my debut.

First game for England

I’ve been very fortunate to represent my country from Under-16 level, right up to the Under-21s. It’s always an honour! I played my first game in a 3-0 win over Northern Ireland in the Victory Shield in November 2006. I maintain that I scored the first goal, but I think it went down as an own goal... if I remember correctly, Jack Rodwell and Jack Wilshere were also in the England side that day.