Lee Roche was a former Manchester United player who made a Champions League debut in 2003 against Deportivo La Coruna. Manchester United was beaten 2-0 and later bowed out of the competition. His footballing career however did not last long.
Roche who is now 40 years was given a free transfer just two months after Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League competition.
He played for Wrexham, Burnley and Droylsden. At the age of 27, Roche was fed up with football after injuries took toll of him.He losthis hunger for playing football. He even at one time explained how he did not want even to watch footballa on TV.
Roche signed for Droylsden, a non-league side in 2007 after a move to Royal Antwerp failed to come to a substance. It is at Droylsden where he reflected on his life and pondered about the aftermath of his playing profession.
With the help of PFA, Roche was able to be trained in a different profession after his footballing talent faded away. He is now a qualified plumber and owns a wall cavity insulation business.
While reflecting on his path, Roche revealed:“I have had a few fellow workers on the building sites asking me about United and how have I ended up here,”
“It can get pretty tiresome so I don’t go shouting about that I played for United. I do think young players today should be made to train as something, so they know about the real world.
“Most of them probably don’t have a plan to fall back on if they don’t make it as a professional.”
At Manchester United, Roche managed just two starts. His first debut is not easy for him to forget as the team that featured more rwserves was thumped 4-0 bya stronger Arsenal side.
It was a Worthington Cup tie that saw Sylvain Wiltord score a hat-trick. Roche, who joked about the whole incident said: “Sylvain Wiltord scored a hat-trick and I remember Kanu being a massive handful – I couldn’t get over the size of his feet,”
“At one point, he flicked the ball over my head and volleyed it, but it went just over the bar, thankfully, otherwise it would have been one of those goals which would have been shown forever.”
“There was no hairdryer from Sir Alex afterwards because he knew we had been up against it. I took what I could from that game and tried to learn from it.”
A year later, Roche came as a substitute in game against Newcastle. Manchester United won 5-3 in a fully packed Old Trafford. Roche said: “It was unbelievable, coming on in front of 75,000 fans at Old Trafford,”
“I did okay, but I remember Sir Alex talking to me afterwards because Alan Shearer had beaten me at the far post to win a header, so he told me to get up first and not let the forwards do that to me.”
Despite the twists and turns in his footballing journey, Roche admitted he has no regrets. He instead feels there is something he could have done differently.
“I don’t have any regrets,”
“The only thing I would point out is that I was known at United for being really quiet, so perhaps I should have been more assertive and mingled more with the lads.
“I’d be straight off home after training to hang out with my own group of friends. I look back now at team-mates like John (O’Shea) and Darren Fletcher and think I should have been more like them and gone out and socialised.
“I think it would have gone down better with United.”