Next up in our series of Meet The Player Interviews we caught up with Manchester United fan, Mike Burke to chat about his Football Aid experiences so far – including his debut appearance back in 2001.
Let’s begin …
Firstly, can you just start by giving the readers some background on your “football” career, can you tell us a bit about yourself and an overview of the clubs you have played for?
"Well I was born in Stepney East London and lived on a council estate where everybody played football, it would be one estate against the other, very competitive. I played for my secondary school team at right half, the position in those days sort of midfielder. There were a lot of good footballers around at that time and the goal was to get into get into the district side (East London) I went for trials, but was not successful. To get a trial for a professional club at this time you would have had to play for your district.
After leaving school I played Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings for two different sides. The Saturday afternoons was a better standard. The Saturday afternoon side was called Parmiterians and Old School type of team although I never went to the school. They had about 10 teams and I was in the first team. Because it was an old school league there were no subs allowed. I continued playing Saturday and Sundays, until a friend I met on holiday in Spain saw me play and introduced me to a club called Southall, who played in the Vauxhall Opel league. I had a season with them and decided to leave, Mainly because of the travelling to games and the birth of my son.
After many years playing I got introduced to Vets football but at the time it wasn’t for me. I eventually started playing seven as side at Highbury Arsenal. They had an indoor football pitch which they called the JVC centre. We would play in a league there on a Sunday night and I met a few ex pros playing. Micky Droy of Chelsea Chris White of Arsenal and a few other very good players, Overall I was like a jobbing footballer as I would go anywhere for a game of football. When going on holiday I would always take my trainers and most times end up in a game of football."
Similarly, can you tell us which footballers you loved to watch when you were growing up? Also, are there any players in the modern game that you particularly like to watch?
"I first started to go to watch football at West Ham and in the early days could say I was a West Ham supporter given I lived in Poplar which was about 4 miles away. But It was the European Cup final Manchester Utd V Benfica in 1968, the first football match I saw on TV that made me want to support and watch Utd. I was a great fan of George Best and was fortunate to see him play for Utd. Also when he left Utd to play for Fulham with Rodney Marsh and Bobby Moore I was able to go and see him play, pure genius. I also was a fan of Franco Baresi who I would say was better than Bobby Moore and that is saying something.
My favourite player of today has to be Lionel Messi. Who to me is the best player I’ve seen. There is a lot of debate about Maradona and Messi and when I get into debate with my friends, I tell them the story of a conversation I had with Ossie Ardiles at Tottenham, a Football Aid match. I asked him who he thought was the better player and bearing in mind he had played with Maradona he said Messi."