Drogheda United FC

Interview Conducted by Paul Holland for DUFC v Derry Match Programme - 18th March 2011

Drogheda United talks to John Lester

Midfielder John Lester has represented Ireland at U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17, U-18 & U-21 levels. Aged 16, John signed a four year deal with Everton and was a prominent player in the Reserves when a broken leg curtailed his promising career. John returned to Ireland in 2001 and is back with the Drogs for his second spell at the club.

You played with Leicester Celtic as a schoolboy before being signed by Everton
Yes I could have signed for a few English clubs but I chose Everton as they offered a four year professional contract.

You have a very impressive record with Ireland at underage level playing from the 14s to the 21s. What managers did you play under?
Vincent Butler, Brian Kerr and Don Givens.

Before you chose Everton you played as a guest with West Ham Utd Youths in the Milk Cup where you won Player of the Tournament!
Yes West Ham were keen for me to sign but I’ve no regrets about going to Everton. I was put straight into the reserves and was doing very well in my second year when I broke my leg and was out for almost a full season. There were a few Irish lads there like Richard Dunne (who was already in the first team) Gary Dempsey and Dean Delaney.

You came back to Ireland in 2001 when you signed for Bohs who were full-time. You’ve played for some selection of clubs since then!
I spent two years at Bohs, then on to Monaghan on loan, Drogheda under Paul Doolin in 2004, Waterford, Limerick, Galway, St. Pat’s, Longford and back to Drogheda!

How did it come about that you signed for us in 2004?
I had been with Bohs and out on loan with Monaghan when Paul Doolin came in for me. I enjoyed my time back then and was hoping to stay on but a double groin operation changed all of that!

You chipped in with a few great goals for Drogheda that year, none more so than that header in United Park!
That’s right! I scored a header from near enough the half way line against Pat’s in the 2-0 win in the FAI Cup. I hope it’s mentioned in all those books that are written about the Drogs! We were beaten by Longford (the eventual winners) in the semi-final that year.

You were here just before the good times began in 2005. How would you rate Paul Doolin as a manager?
Paul is an excellent manager and has great
ambition. He wasn’t there to be liked and it was very much his way or the highway! He was there to win things and he brought success to the club and that’s what matters in the end.

Bobby Browne put this squad together for the original plan of playing in the First Division. Apart from the fitness levels, many people are quite surprised at how well the team has competed in the opening two games.
Yes Bobby put the squad together on a small budget. Mick has us well organised and we can be a difficult team to beat. We’re still a bit behind with the fitness but we are getting there. Robbie has been putting on some good coaching sessions but it will take time.

You’re a good man to ask about how the standard in the league has changed over the past 10 years. You’ve been full-time with Bohs, Drogheda and Galway and part-time with many other clubs.
Quite a few players have had to leave their clubs in Ireland due to the recession. There’s still a big difference between being full-time and part-time but I still think it’s quite a decent standard we have.

Any footballers in the family?
My dad, Denis, played in the Leinster
Senior League and is actually still playing away with Ballsbridge United in the Over 35s league.

Away from football what keeps you busy?
I work full time as a Merchandiser with Diagio in Dublin. I’m a normal lad. I hang round out with my mates and I live with my girlfriend. Nothing fancy about me!

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