INTERVIEW: Jimmy Bullard

[Originally featured in Liquid Football Magazine Issue Five – August 2016]

You were known as a player who was a bit of a prankster – what is the best prank you have pulled off – and has a stunt ever backfired?
I can answer the two questions with one answer. TJ Moncur was a young player at Fulham. One morning he came in for training in a new Peugeot 206 convertible. Once he was out of the way, I grabbed a huge wheelie bin, filled it with water and poured it into his car. When I did it I instantly regretted it as it made a mess, so I thought I would try and clean it, so I threw a second filled bin in. Unfortunately, there was CCTV. After training, TJ and the boys gathered round a screen in the club office to see footage of me pouring water into his car. ‘Was that you in the car park, Jim?’ someone asked. ‘Errrr, no’. Luckily, the warm weather dried the car out. Probably didn’t smell too much!

What’s next in your TV presenting career – and will Jimmy Bullard Kicks Off be making a return at some point?
No. Alas JBKO will not be returning, but I really enjoyed it. It was an opportunity for me to learn how to present and as it was live. Of course, I made plenty of mistakes but I think that’s what made the show. It was great fun while it lasted but I’m looking to move on to bigger and better things. I am now presenting on Golf Juice on Sky ad feel I am getting better and better. I fancy myself for a big show and know I could pull it off but obviously I don’t think producers are exactly going; ‘get me jimmy Bullard’ – they should be though!

When will we be hearing a new series of Magic Sponge – and what do you have planned for it?
We’re currently recording them so I don’t know what I can and can’t say. It’s a lot of fun recording them with Rob and Ian and some of the guests get it and some of them don’t, but it’s random and people seem to love them. We were number 2 in overall charts behind Serial last time, but I reckon when this next series comes out we will go to number 1.

“I grabbed a huge wheelie bin, filled it with water and poured it into his car”

Whilst you were still playing, did you ever fancy getting into management post-retirement?
Yep, I haven’t ruled it out. But, again, I don’t think chairman are sitting there going ‘you know who we need for this… get me Jimmy Bullard on the phone!’. They should though, I’ve been around the game all my life – I know what works and think I would be successful.

Your book, Bend it Like Bullard, was a huge success; any thoughts on doing a follow-up?
People responded really well to it which I am very grateful for, but not sure people are ready for Bend It like Bullard II.Was it frustrating to get called up by England only to not even get on to the pitch – and what were your thoughts on Capello?
It was a massive honour to get called up and to be able to train with players like Rooney and see that all close up. The quality was incredible and a real eye opener for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was warming up like a good’n to catch Postman Pat’s (Capello) eye and was gutted that I didn’t get on, but I will always be grateful for being part of the squad. It would have been nice to have my cap for my pub though!

What were your thoughts on England’s Euro 2016 campaign – and your former manager, Roy Hodgson’s performance in France?
Got to be careful here haven’t I? Naturally; very, very disappointing. There seemed to be some very weird decisions that I wouldn’t have done and the Iceland game was a mystery. Ian Wright summed it up best when he said it was like Space Jam where someone seemed to take their talent away. It was a big opportunity for us to do something in that tournament and for whatever reason we couldn’t take it.

Is it true that, after that famous moment, Duncan Ferguson was waiting for you in the tunnel after the game?
Big Dunc didn’t wait for anyone, time waits for him! After he got sent off when he was out of earshot (or so I thought) and I jokingly shouted after him – ‘I’ll see you in the tunnel then after Dunc, yeah?’. Unfortunately for me, he heard me and turned round and said ‘ok’ – I’m not ashamed to say that I shit myself and after the final whistle I did the slowest walk back to the tunnel. I was thanking the away supporters, the home supporters the stewards, the bloke selling the programmes just trying to delay it. When I got down the tunnel he was nowhere to be seen. He probably heard about me and shit himself!
A few weeks after, he was at the races and I thought ‘hold up, I could be in trouble here’. But he was good as gold – slapped me on the back and even left me a bottle of champers – how good is that!? Measure of the man that… no-one messes with Big Dunc!

How far do you think your career would have gone if it wasn’t for those terrible injuries?
I can’t think like that, it’s not in my DNA – I know I missed a lot of games and that’s something that I can’t get back. But I can’t do anything about it. To each life a little rain must fall and my injuries was my bit of rain, but generally on planet Bullard it’s sunny. I’ve got a fishing rod or a golf club in my hand and there’s a cold pint waiting for me in the 19th hole. Happy days!

If you had to pick one – what was your ultimate highlight from your career?
Either winning promotion with a great Wigan team or getting to carling Cup final. Ronaldo putting the ‘megs on me has to be up there as well I would say

And finally… any regrets?
Nah, don’t be daft! I was lucky enough to play at a very high level. I had best possible career my talent could get me to and enjoyed every minute. I should have gone for a third wheelie bin in that Peugeot though.