Sunday 17


Mepham considered gardening switch before resurrecting football career

26th January 2019, 10:21

Chris Mepham has revealed he was contemplating a gardening career before recovering from "rock bottom" to become a 12m footballer.

Defender Mepham, who joined Bournemouth on Tuesday, was ready to turn his back on football after being released by Chelsea as a schoolboy and rejected following trials with Watford and QPR.

The 21-year-old was seriously considering other professions,including taking over his uncle's gardening business, untila Brentford scout handed him a lifeline while he was playing for thereserve team of London-based amateur side North Greenford.

"When you've been told by a few teams that you're not good enough, you obviously feel rock bottom," said Mepham.

"It (gardening) was definitely something I did consider when football was going downhill and I didn't really see a career in the game.

"My uncle had motor neurone disease, he was a full-time gardener, had his own business.

"When he started getting quite ill and couldn't really do the gardening any more, me and my dad sort of stepped up and took over the business for a while.

"It was definitely an option because if football wasn't going to work out, I would have wanted to do quite a hands-on job, rather than sitting in an office.

"Luckily football has taken a right turn, but it would also have been good to carry on the family business."

Mepham resurrected his floundering career at Griffin Park and became a long-term target of Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe before finally sealing his big-money move to the Vitality Stadium.

The centre-back could make his top-flight debut against Chelsea on Wednesday, the club which shattered his dreams at the age of 14.

He admired the rugged defending of John Terry during his time with the Blues, although he admits to basing his game on the more composed style of Manchester City defender John Stones.

"When I was at Chelsea, John Terry was captain at the time and there were a few times he came over to watch the academy train," said Mepham.

"I think in my early days, I looked up to him as a leader and definitely the heart of the Chelsea back four for many years.

"More recently I've looked up to John Stones, the way he plays, his composure on the ball.

"When I was at Brentford, I was going in a lot of days, watching his clips from the previous weekend.

"It's important to take different aspects from different players. But I like to base my game on similar to John Stones."

Mepham's form in the Sky Bet Championship, where he made 43 appearances for the Bees, also caught the eye of Wales boss Ryan Giggs.

Giggs has handed Mepham four international caps to date, experience which has given him the opportunity to be a room-mate of Real Madrid's four-time Champions League winner Gareth Bale.

"He was a great guy, I learnt a lot from him, just seeing how he goes about his business on a day-to-day basis," Mepham said of Bale.

"He's such a good athlete and he's looked after himself over the years.

"You've got him, (Aaron) Ramsey, some big names in the team so it's important to make the most of being around them in the short period of time you do have on international duty."

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

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