Developing the individual with Neil Ross

Can you tell us about your journey in sport as a child?
So, I grew up in Birmingham and played football from as early as I can remember really. It tended to be local Sunday league clubs and things like that around the West Bromwich area. My dad was an ex professional football player too, so he drove me and pointed me in the right direction with it I suppose.

He was a massive influence for me as a kid. He took me to every training session and took me to watch games as well. I was even lucky enough to go to some charity games with him and was in and around the changing rooms, so football is always something that I’ve been involved in from a young age.

You came through the ranks with Leeds Utd. What was your experience like when you made your pro debut?
It was brilliant. All the hard work you do – from being a young lad, right the way through to making your debut – it makes it the best thing in the world. I was with the likes of Birmingham City, Coventry City and moved up to Leeds and signed for them when I was 15 years old. I actually broke my leg in my first game for them, so that put me back a year.

Leeds stuck with me though and did all my rehab with them. I signed a 3 year contract with them and about 18 months into it, Alan Smith broke into the first team. He was a year above me so I sat down with David O’Leary and said that I knew the opportunity to break into the first team was going to limited, with Smudge (Alan Smith) getting his chance there.

So I made a move to Stockport County in the Championship. After a few games in the reserves, I was given a chance for the first team against Huddersfield. I started really well with the club and scored goals in my first few games but most of my career was injury ridden, which probably stems back to breaking my leg when I was at Leeds Utd. Injuries is what eventually ended my career at 27 years old, having to retire early.

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