Midfielder Lewis Holtby became the latest Rovers player to take the hot-seat in our 'Football Origins' feature...
We sat down with the former German international to discuss his career so far, his firsts, his favourites and much, much more.
First Football Memory
I was born in 1990, I touched a ball when I was three or four years old, just kicking it around and I think the 1996 Euros in England, I can remember watching it on telly and I think that might be my first memory. Especially the semi-final when England played Germany and it went to a penalty shoot-out.
Team You Supported Growing Up
Everton. I was always an Everton supporter. I think it was 1995, the year they won the FA Cup, when my dad gave me my first Everton shirt and from that day I was a Toffee.
First Game You Attended
The first game I went to was Fortuna Düsseldorf versus Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga, at the old Rheinstadion in Düsseldorf, which I think held 60,000 fans and we were right at the top! I was just a little boy and I was so scared looking down because we were so high up. And in the game, Mönchengladbach were trailing 3-1 and we left in the 88th or 89th minute because of traffic and as we were going out, I could hear the Mönchengladbach fans cheering because they’d made it 3-2 and it was so loud and I can remember arguing with my mum that we’d missed the goal!
First Football Shirt You Owned
The first shirt was an Everton one. I think it was dark blue with NEC on the front. It was in 1995 when they won the FA Cup. I was five years old at the time and I just loved the club.
First Pair of Football Boots
I think they were black Puma Kings. I think they were the special ones where Lothar Matthäus had Matthäus on the side.
My favourite player when I was younger was Michael Owen. It would be about 1998, I was eight-years-old, it was the first World Cup I witnessed and I really enjoyed watching it. It was a brilliant World Cup in France and Michael Owen was superb. I think he was about 18 or 19 and he scored that goal against Argentina, going past players and putting it top bins. He was my hero.
First Junior Team
The first junior team was my local club Sparta Gerderath. It’s the little village I grew up in and all my friends were there too.
Age You Were Scouted
So I started at this village club when I was three or four and then I was scouted when I was 10 by Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen, but I decided to play for Mönchengladbach because they were my childhood German team and it was basically 20km from our house, so it was easier to cope with school and it was a dream come true to play for a club like that.
It was December 2007, I played for Alemannia Aachen. I’d just turned 17 and it was a Second Bundesliga match against St. Pauli at home. It was the 80th minute, it was 2-2 and I came on for an incredible 12 or 13 minutes. I really enjoyed that moment because I was a fan. When I moved from Mönchengladbach to Aachen it was a proper football club – a tight ground, with 22,000 fans, good fans and I used to go and watch games there, I used to be a mascot and then suddenly I was playing there, so that was a great moment for me.
Best Memory in Football
My best memory in football is my debut, because that’s where I opened the door to professional football, but also when I got my first full cap for Germany. That was a very proud moment.
Best Advice Ever Received
Throughout my career, I’ve had some very good managers, big names, tacticians and everyone gives you little bits of advice, so it’s hard to decide. Maybe when your parents gave everything for you, like driving you to training and matchdays on Sundays. Every day they basically gave everything, so they would pass advice on and would say ‘listen, whatever you do, don’t give up, always give your best and no matter what, just love the game’. That was my parents spreading the joy for the game and always putting in a great shift and hard work and being role models. So I’ve always kept that with me and have worked doubly hard especially for me.
Your Advice For Young Players
If a young lad wants advice, it’s basically just enjoy playing football. Enjoy working out and enjoy sweating for achievements. Don’t give up ever. There will be dark clouds in your football career, but it’s how you pick those moments up and try to be better and try to evolve that into glory days. That’s the advice I would give kids – just enjoy it, work hard and give everything you’ve got.