My wife Mariana is a good photographer too and, like me, she just picks up a camera and takes a picture when she sees something, rather than looking too deeply into it.
Training is such a vital part of preparation for a game, you really do train to play. It tops up your ability, like sharpening a carving knife. You can get away with not doing it for a while, as long as you have reached a certain standard of fitness.
The first year I sold a photo to was a lady who thought I was a chef, for some reason. I’ve no idea why.
Sometimes I’ll go by and there are a couple of swans, the next day it’s a few ducks. I’d like to stop there every day for a year and capture how it changes, then put it all together to create an incredible image of a traditional English scene.
I’ve never put myself in the mindset that I’m actually any good at taking pictures, I just love to shoot things that catch my eye, whether it’s landscapes or just my kids.
What it all boils down to for me is having the enthusiasm to do something for enjoyment and being stimulated by what’s around you. That’s what photography does for me.
The problem for me is that I’ve never actually studied photography, so it’s quite a steep learning curve. Cameras these days do so much for you automatically but I still think there’s a point where you should actually know the technical side.
I’ve had one very bad ankle injury but otherwise I’ve been incredibly lucky with my fitness. I’ve worked hard at it and I’ve always been fit even compared to other players. That sustains you through various parts of your career, but I am 36.
Why go now? That is the question people asked when I announced I was retiring. A combination of things made me feel it was all drawing to a natural end.
In the last year my wife has noticed me struggling to get downstairs on a Sunday morning. I’ve two young children and football has been so good to me over the years I don’t want to spoil it.
From my point of view what I have to do now is appreciate and enjoy what football gave me, but now do something else with the same energy and enthusiasm I gave to football without expecting the same results.
I was pleased that two very disparate photographs, two images that each worked in their own way had appealed enough to other people for them to buy them. I was also relieved they weren’t the last ones purchased, and that they sold for a pound more than the frame was worth.
We spent a lot of time on the beach when I was young so I’d also take pictures of seaweed and crabs.
Digital has obviously changed things a lot, but not all for the better as far as I’m concerned. Of course it’s much more convenient and you’re getting instant results, but to me it just lacks the finesse of a roll of film and it has a slightly superimposed feel.