#243 – A Chance To Be A Hero With Matt Le Tissier

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the episode today, we have Matt Le Tissier. Matt, welcome. Thank you very much, mate. It is my pleasure. Normally when I set up an episode I say, “would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do?” But given the fact that a lot of people who watch this episode are already going to know a bit about what you do. Going to start with the deep and meaningful question. Who are you? I am Matt Le Tissier, little boy from Guernsey who happens to be pretty good at sports. Made a career in professional football.

And then another career in punditry and football afterwards and until a couple of years ago that was all going very well and then the world changed and here I am. Well, thank you for the introduction. I’ve done a lot of prep on the previous episodes or conversations that you’ve had, and one of the things that you said regarding your footballing career is that you’ve relied on your natural ability and so I wanted to get your take on talent versus hard work and what your thoughts are on that topic. Yes, it’s an interesting debate. I think that you can get by with both. You can you can make a career with not being very talented and having a lot of hard work. You can make a career in football by being very talented with little, little effort or less effort than most other people have to put it. And then you get the people who do both and they are the ones that become world class, incredibly rich.

Well, where would you say you fall on that spectrum? Where would I fall? I fall in the spectrum of being incredibly talented, but also not the hardest working of all the footballers that I played amongst. I would have been in the lower percentile of the fitness levels of the players. And I kind of got myself to a level of fitness that I knew was enough to be able to display the talents that I had. And looking back at that sort of context of hard work versus talent, would you have done anything differently? No. No, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I had a fantastic time in my career. Loved every minute of it. Loved entertaining people playing football. You know, it’s, it felt like that’s why I was put on the planet to do. And I did that to the best of my ability and I did that whilst not being obsessive about how my body looked.

You know, what fat percentage I had in my body, I did that whilst having, being able to have a life outside. And I’ve always felt like having that balance in life was far more important to me. That’s not to say it’s the right thing. It’s the right thing for me, because that’s not the, it’s not the same for everybody. Yeah, the fat percentage of your body. That’s the important stuff to focus on, right? That’s what some people will focus on. And towards the back end of my career, the coaches and the managers started to take more notice of that kind of stuff. So that’s when I decided that yeah, it’s probably best if I retire now. Well, I’m framing the last couple of questions. I’ve heard it said that I’ve heard both sides of the coin and the example used. I mean, you could easily use your success. The example I heard was David Beckham’s free kicks. So, You know, people would say that he has a talent for that type of thing, but then they wouldn’t recognize that maybe spend 300 free kicks in training every day in order to get that skill. Any thoughts there?

I think sometimes we do, even even in my case, you do underestimate what it takes to get to the level that you see on the television when it comes to playing professional football and, you know, a lot of stuff was said about May in my career, which wasn’t particularly accurate. When I said I wasn’t the fittest player. I should clarify that by saying I wasn’t unfit, but I just wasn’t quite as fit as some of the other players and I think it was a little bit um harsh from some of my critics to never acknowledge the work that went in when I was growing up, the practice that I put in um to be able to be as good as I got um and that was never ever really recognized. So yes, the practice for the free kicks, that is a that is a learned technique and that is something that you can spend hours and hours doing and you will get better and better at it.

And that’s what David is, what James Ward Prowse does at Southampton as well. So, so yeah, there’s there’s got to be a balance in there somewhere and I would say I kind of, I was on the scale of more talent than hard work. Well, you’ve already mentioned sort of, there’s a, there’s a topic online which is sort of focusing on the journey versus focusing on the outcome. Um and this is there’s a debate, an ongoing debate about perhaps what you should, what you should quote unquote do, and I feel like you’re, you’re a great example of someone who has enjoyed the journey. Um have you got any thoughts on that topic? Um Yeah, I mean, I’ve very much enjoyed the journey, I’m very much a live in the moment kind of bloke. I don’t really plan for um too much too far ahead in the future and and yeah, I think I would be on the, on the side of just enjoy the journey as it goes. You know, when things change, you know, you, you react to situations that happen on and off the pitch, you make your decisions, you get, you take as much time as you need to, to make those decisions and you try and make the right decisions for what is right for you in your life at that time.

And that’s going to be a very different answer for everybody. Well, I like, the fact that you said that you were paid for doing your hobby Absolutely. If someone is facing the choice between doing something which they love versus doing something that pays well, what advice do you give them? I would, if I would say do the thing that you love as long as it rewards you enough to be able to want to live the life that you want to live. Um, if that makes sense, I’m I’ve never really had a, a very lavish lifestyle, spend huge amounts of money on cars and that kind of stuff. Just on the golf membership, golf membership. Yes, Yeah, my, my £1700 a year I spend on my golf membership is probably the best money that I spend because I do play a lot of golf. Well, you’ve said that you put happiness above money and trophies previously, would you say that you’re happy?

Yeah, I’ve got 253 years of age in my life and I looked back and there might be a couple of little things that I would have changed maybe done differently. Um but with my hand on my heart, I don’t I don’t really have too many regrets in life and I sleep very well every night when my head hits the pillow, I’m very content. And yeah, I would say I’m probably one of the happiest people I know. So how do you do that then? How do you do that? I think you do that by being true to yourself, I think, and um sometimes sticking up for what you think is right, even though the majority of people think you’re wrong. Um I think as long as you do that and you do it with humility, uh then I think you can you can look yourself in the mirror every day and go, you know what, that’s what you thought was, right, you stick up for it and be happy about it.

It’s interesting because the opposite of that, of course would be if you’re let’s say, pretending to be someone you’re not, then that’s probably going to make you quite unhappy. The positive mental attitude that you’ve that you’ve spoken about previously, The context, there was, I think your penalty, amazing penalty statistics. Um you also referred to it as having the right mentality if you are going to attempt to teach someone about that, either the positive mental attitude or the mentality, how would you share that principle? Well, I think first and foremost you need to understand whether the person that you’re trying to teach actually wants to be there in the first place. Um, so that the first thing you have to find out about somebody is what is when a penalty is given, How does it make them feel? Um, That’s the first question that I would ask if I was, if I was going to teach anybody, because if they give you the wrong answer on that, then there’s not a lot of point teaching them because if their mind is in the right place before they go to take the penalty, it’s not really going to work out very well for them.

An example of that is going to be what fearful or excited would you say that’s accurate? Yes, I would say I would say excited with a little bit of nervousness thrown in. Okay. And let’s say they are fearful. What do you do, tell him not to tape? Anyways, she should go get somebody else in the team who wants to be in that position. Because if you’re fearful when a penalty is given, that’s completely wrong, reaction puts you in the wrong frame of mind straight away. It shows doubt in your mind straight away and you’re gonna probably be less successful than somebody who is confident and steps up looking like he wants to be there and grows when you know, when he stood there ready to take a penalty, he’s not going, oh my God, there’s a whole stadium, just looking at me, he’s going, he’s going, wow, this is a chance to be a hero. And then that’s as simple as it. That is so interesting. At the same time, I used the penalty as a bit of a metaphor as for like, I don’t know, let’s see you find like an opportunity or something.

My audience is businesses or business owners or high achievers. So let’s say someone is potentially they have an opportunity to do something and they’re fearful. What do you say to them? I would say that that’s when I would suggests that the rational brain takes over and you check out all the pros and the cons and you list them one side next to each other and you take a look at him and go, right, what are the odds? What what, what’s what’s looking in my favor and what’s not, that is a bit of a luxury you get before when you don’t have to take a penalty right? You can’t write your pros and cons before you go and take a penalty. No, definitely not. And it’s interesting because there’s a lot of, a lot of analysis that is done now in the modern game where, you know, people will study, will study what the goalkeeper does when he’s facing penalties. And what’s what’s really interesting is that all focused on that. But when given that I had one of the most successful penalty records in the world, it would probably surprise people when I say, I never once looked at what the goalkeeper was doing.

I have no regard for what, where he dives on previous penalties, no regard for what his strongest side was, where he favored to dive. And I just backed myself um and knew that if I struck the ball well enough um into the, into the corner that I wanted it to go, then there was very little chance he was going to say, well there’s probably a lot to learn in there. So I’m definitely gonna in the edit, go back and analyze exactly what you just said. This is more of a general question, which I think is probably quite relevant to what you just said. And as I’ve asked it before and I’ve got some interesting, some interesting answers. And if your inner voice was an actual person, what would you think of them? And would you keep in touch with that person? Um That is a really good question. Yeah, I would definitely keep in touch with them. I quite like my inner voice I get on all right with. It keeps me balanced. And I think that’s that’s kind of one of the reasons why we have that kind of inner voice or that the little thing on your shoulder guard don’t be stupid, don’t do that.

So yeah, I definitely keep in touch with him and he keeps me balanced. That would be my answer. It says a lot about what’s going on in there and I did get the answer of now I probably end up in prison because I punch him in the face. I’m alright with mine, I’m all good. You mentioned previously in one of your answers about the fact that there’s some unfair criticism of you in some instances, because and I think the the context that I’m referring to is is lack of ambition, because when you were, when you wanted, when you were younger, you wanted to be a professional footballer and you wanted to play for England. And the question is around dealing with criticism. Um and from from what I’ve seen at you, you’ve been pretty, pretty great at dealing with criticism. The question is how other people can learn from that, because lots of people on social media now and social media can be a pretty brutal place for people if they’re not prepared for that, what would you share with those people? Yeah, Social media can be an awful place at times.

So I would suggest that you kind of assess your own strengths and weaknesses in your personality, decide whether or not, you know, that criticism that may come your way, how that will affect you. And if it’s not gonna affect you too much, then by all means, take a look through your replies and see what people are saying. However, if you if you feel like honestly you’re a little bit fragile and that might distract you or it might sway you in some way, then the easiest solution is to post your thoughts. Don’t look at the replies, that’s the easiest thing to do. So for kids, they may not want to be on it at all. I would suggest social media is probably the worst thing that could happen to school age Children in the history of the world. Quite a statement, well worth reflecting on. I think it is a powerful statement, but it’s one that having, you know, growing up as a kid without it and knowing how how happy my childhood was and how there was no none of the distractions that are around to stop you from enjoying just being a kid.

And I think that’s the biggest thing that the the reason why I make that statement is because it distracts you from enjoying life as a kid. You know, that carefree time in our lives where we should be just out playing with our mates and and yet now the kids are glued to their screens, wondering what the sum person who they probably don’t even know might have just met once or twice and they’re worried about what they’re saying about them after they posted something on their social media channels. And that’s not really a recipe for a happy childhood distracts you from football, right? That would distract you from whatever you, whatever you’re good at in life. So I’ve kind of had a belief that within each and every one of us, I think there’s there’s something that each and every one of us is good at in life. It’s just a case of trying to find what that is, making the, making the most of that and trying to, Trying to find your, navigate your way through life as happily as possible and not dreading having to go to work, which is something I’ve been very lucky in my life in 53 years.

I’ve never Kind of really dreaded going into work. As I said, I got paid for doing my hobby for 17 years and then I got paid for another 15 or so, he is talking about my hobby. So, you know, I’ve been pretty lucky in life, well, I think if I’m not mistaken previous quote of yours is that sport should be about being the best that you can be. I think some people take that and let’s say, move it over into their professional career. Have you got any thoughts about how someone might be the best that they can be? I think it’s a pretty, it’s a pretty broad statement to be honest. Um I think with anything in life, if you’re, if you’re passionate about something and you’re keen to be successful at something, then you can’t, you kind of give it your all, you know, you just do whatever you need to do to make that successful from my point of view, that was, that was obviously going to be a professional footballer and to do that.

I had to go and do things that I didn’t like, like preseason training, that was probably the worst four weeks of my year, but I knew I had to do that to, to get through to the good bit, where I then I’m in a position where I can go out and the same people playing football. So when you’re, when you’re going about your business and you see some rough times ahead, you just have to convince yourself okay, I’m gonna get through these rough times, because once I’m through that all the good stuff at the end of it is well worth going through the rough times at the start. So I’m going to guess that some of the, some of the good stuff you’re referring to is that the screen that you get from scoring an amazing goal as you as you have so many times. What’s that? Like that feeling? Yeah, I think, yeah, well, first and foremost, it’s just it’s just kind of stepping out into a football stadium where there’s like, thousands and thousands of people have spent their hard earned money to come and watch you play football that in itself before you even kick a ball Is a pretty special feeling. So when you run out of the tunnel at 5-3 and the stadium erupts as the players come out, that’s an incredible feeling on its own before you even start talking about, you know, setting somebody up for for an open goal or putting a great task through that somebody finishes or indeed scoring yourself, which is just the ultimate buzz when you score a goal, especially, it’s the winning goal later on in the game, the stadium erupts, it’s spine tingling.

It is an amazing feeling. And yeah, that’s that’s absolutely why I play football well. Um in what I’ve tried to do in our conversation is to not ask you about, should we say stuff that you’ve already spoken about previously? Um And I’ve noticed that your pretty, you’re a great storyteller. So some of the stories that you tell our really interested in really engaging and I’m going to break my rule and ask you about a story because I just can’t help myself. And it it relates to what I just asked you about and the story is the final goal at the Del. Would you be willing to share that story in any details perhaps you haven’t covered before? Um yeah, no, absolutely. So we moved stadiums in 2001 And the 2000 2001 06 season was our last one at the Dell and it wasn’t a particularly happy season for me. I’ve had a lot of injuries through that season.

I’d only ever, I think I scored one goal that season. It was in the league Cup. So I haven’t scored a Premier League goal the whole season as I said, missed a lot of that season through injury and towards getting towards the end, the excitement was starting to build. It was a big deal being made of, you know, the last ever league game at the DEL. There were a couple of other games after that was that there was a Jason Dodd testimonial and a friendly against Brighton. But the big one was the last ever league game. And so approaching the game, it was kind of Stuart. Gray was our manager at the time and I hadn’t really justified a place in the squad if I’m honest with my performances because of the injuries that I’ve had. But Stuart actually came up to me on the Tuesday before the game and said, look for what you’ve done for this football club. He said, I’m going to have you on the substitutes bench on the weekend. And no matter what happens when that final whistle goes, you will be On the pitch at the end because you deserve to be because of what you’ve done for the club for the previous 15 years. And I thought that was a really nice touch from him.

He did the same with Franny. Benali had been at the club same time as me and I thought that was lovely because it just showed that there was still a little bit of room for sentiment in football because probably neither myself nor Franny really justified a place in the squad. But it was from that moment on the Tuesday before the weekend. I then went to bed every night and I was obsessed with scoring the last goal of the health. That was all I wanted to do it. I just felt like it was my destiny For what I, you know, for what I’ve done for the football club over the last 15 years. I just felt like I really wanted to be the last person to score legal. And so When the game came, I was put on as a sub with about 12 minutes to go. Um and I knew it was a really odd feeling, but I knew it didn’t matter how difficult the chance was, all I needed was a chance because at that point I was so obsessed with scoring the cold that If if a chance fell to me, I knew it was going to go in and the chance did fall to me in the 88th minute.

It was quite a difficult opportunity. It was a little bit behind me, It was on my weaker foot, on my left foot to swivel on the half, volley hit this left foot shot. Um and as soon as the ball left my foot, I knew where it was going, it was the weirdest feeling. It was almost like it was happening in slow motion to me and as soon as the ball hit my foot I’d already started you know as soon as it left my thought I started turning away to celebrate because I knew that I’d struck it so beautifully and I knew where the goal was and I knew the goalkeeper couldn’t get there and it was just the most amazing feeling to to have done that and the whole the noise that the stadium made that day, I got a lot of goals in that stadium, but I had never experienced the level of noise and the sheer emotion that poured out from the stadium when that goal went in and it was just the most incredible adrenaline rush I’ve ever had in my life and so that was that was just an amazing moment and we did actually have another attack just after that another chance to score another goal and chris Marsden hit this shot from the edge of the box and the goalkeeper Alex manager at the time he got up to his right hand side, he tipped over the crossbar was really good and I kind of breathed a sigh of relief, really haven’t gone in and I almost wanted to go and give the goalie a cuddle and just go, thanks very much but I restrained myself and I went over to take the corner And then as I’m going over there really slowly because I want the final whistle blow quick, so I’m walking over really slowly with the ball put the ball down and as I put the ball down, I kind of looked up into the 18 yard box and I suddenly had this realization that actually I don’t really want to put the ball in the box because if I do someone might head it in and then I won’t be the last person that scored the goal at the del.

So I hesitated for a little bit and Wayne Bridge was playing left back for us that day. He was up on the halfway line. I just I just glanced Him and he’s looking at me and I’ve just gone so he comes jogging down from the left back spot and I just roll the ball to him at the edge of the 18 yard box. And as I roll the ball to him, the referee blows the final whistle. I thought brilliant. That’s it. So it was a little bit selfish of me to not stick the ball in there and try and win forward too. But I was so wanted to be the last goal scorer but I didn’t want to take the chance of putting it in the box. Amazing story. And after I heard that in a previous conversation of yours, I went and watched the video because it is on YouTube. So I’ll put that in the description. But I felt it’s also the picture in my office that’s on my office. Well that’s how much it meant to be, That’s awesome. But yeah, I felt like I was, you know, I felt like I was there when I watched it on YouTube, because, like, you know, because of the story you told, have you worked on being a good storyteller?

Well, I’ve been doing after dinner, speaking for quite a long time, so I probably started doing that maybe a year after I stopped playing. So, so yeah, I tell quite a lot of stories about my career, so I’ve had plenty of practice any um I don’t know that you feel like you shouldn’t have told or perhaps that Yeah, I mean, I told a story, I used to tell a story about a spread betting story that happened back in the 90s, which kind of got me into a little bit of trouble with talks more doing a whole show on it, saying that I was a disgrace to football. I shouldn’t be allowed to even work within football ever again. But thankfully, most people saw through that I realized that I actually told us it was me that told the story of my autobiography first and foremost, to warn people not to be so stupid like I was, but they then tried to turn that against me, say that I should be banned from all football activities, but it didn’t what, well you mentioned that you visualized and you sort of, you you knew that well you knew if you had the opportunity that you’d score, have you used that previously in your career at all?

Yeah, I think I’ve always kind of imagine scenarios in the future and there have been times in the past where I’ve scored goals and it had felt like I’ve done that before and it’s just kind of preparing yourself mentally for a situation that’s going to happen. So it doesn’t, so it doesn’t shock you and you’re not surprised by this situation cropping up. So I always used to visualize stuff happening on a football pitch. I used to visualize scoring goals and I would actually, once I visualize them, I’d actually go and train and work on it in training and make sure that if that situation did come, that I had the ability and the technique to do something about it, if that situation arose, and if you hadn’t done that, do you think the result would be the same? I certainly think I gave myself a better chance of executing it by mentally preparing myself first, there’s a tip there somewhere, right? I would think so. I would think so. There’s a there’s a lot to be said for visualization techniques for sure.

Well, 10 years from now, if everything goes well, what does your life look like If everything goes well in 10 years from now, the World Economic Forum will be disbanded. The United Nations have been disbanded and we’ll all be living under a government that governs for the people and not for the elites. Well, that’s um, that’s a tricky one to implement yourself. Right? It is quite tricky. Yeah. But if every single one of us does a little bit then it becomes easier. So I’m trying to do my little bit, trying to do my little bit. I ask, I ask everyone this question that comes on very interested to know what you think, What does success mean to you? That’s really easy. Success to me is being happy in my life. It’s a short one and the follow up is going to be even easier given that criteria. Are you successful? Yeah, I’m very successful. I’m one of the most successful people. I know brilliant.

I feel that’s a very positive conversation today. So that’s why I kind of like, I like to go for that. So I appreciate the positivity. Some of these are a bit more general, maybe a bit of a quick fire by what age should you know what you want to do with your life. No, I don’t think there is a I don’t think there is an age, to be honest. Some people find it very late on in life. I was lucky. I found it very early on probably eight or nine years of age when I knew that I wanted to be a footballer. Not everybody is going to be that lucky. But at some point you will find that and on your journey there just try and be as happy as you can and be as decent a human being as you can along the way is living life to the fullest possible. Um I don’t know if that’s whose criteria is it that you said, who decides what living life to the fullest is regulations to these questions. There’s no regulations, there’s no rules. So if you’re happy and you feel like you’re living life to your fullest, then you’re living life to the fullest.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Is there anything you should have let go of a long time ago, but you are still holding onto? Oh yeah, my hair. Yeah. Wasn’t expecting that one. I’m 53, you still got it all. It’s good, it’s good. But more than me, my brothers are jealous and they’re all older than me, but not by much is having a big ego, a positive or negative trait depends what you do with that ego. If you have an ego, you can use it for positive, but you can also use your ego for negative. So I would say, um if you use your ego in the right way, then it’s a good thing. So it’s neither really good answer. It’s what you want it to be, What type of legacy do you want to leave behind? Um I was always wanted people to say about me that they saw me play football and they loved it.

I think that was that was my biggest thing about my career was I wanted to entertain people and I wanted people to think that they mhm, that they were probably that they spent their money wisely, I think would be the best way of putting it. I wanted to give people something that was going to entertain them for the money that they were paying. Well. There’s some, I don’t know whether you’ve seen them. There’s some some compilations of your goals on YouTube. Have I seen them? Of course, I watched them every day. What’s the matter with you now coming from? I have occasionally browse. Yes. But yeah, there’s some there’s some crackers in there. So I think you did your job if you were, if you were looking to entertain. Thank you. This one’s an easy one. You ready? What’s the meaning of life? So yeah. How long have we got the meaning of life from from my personal point of view, my meaning of life is to try to be as happy and as positive as you can and try to affect the people around you that you love in a good way.

It’s a good answer. Is there anything that I should have asked you about today? No, I think you’ve done a pretty good job. I’ve enjoyed the questions. Any closing thoughts for us. Yeah, I would say to people that believe in what you’re doing. If you’re passionate about something then you keep at it and you will get there, it might take a while, some will take longer than others, but if you’re passionate and you love it and it makes you happy. Keep at it. Well, I appreciate your time today. I think you’ve been a big inspiration to, well, should we say, tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people, so congratulations on your career and everything you’ve done and if people want to follow you or connect with you, where do they go? I am on GETTR and on twitter, although I’m not sure how long I’ll be on twitter for. They’ll probably send to me. I am @MattLeTiss7 on both of those platforms and they’re the only things that I’m really on but I post more on GETTR than I do on twitter, so it’s probably best to follow me there. Okay, well thank you for being a great guest today, Matt Le Tissier. Thanks Thomas, good to talk to you.