‘I was petrified of the older pros’ – Kem Izzet
WHEN Colchester United’s club skipper, Kem Izzet, was a young apprentice, he was “petrified” of his older professionals.
But times have changed.
U’s stalwart Izzet, who returned to the starting line-up at Bournemouth on Saturday, after an 11-week absence with a hip injury, has highlighted the big differences between being a youth teamer now, as opposed to 15 years ago.
When midfielder Izzet was in the youth team at his first club Charlton, at the back end of the 1990s, he would not have dreamt of arguing with one of the older pros. He would take advice on board or take stinging criticism on the chin.
But now Izzet, who has rattled up than 400 league games for the U’s since his arrival in 2001, has to tread carefully when geeing up his younger team-mates and young apprentices.
It is all a far cry from his early days under manager Steve Whitton when the U’s, like they are this season, were facing up to relegation battles.
“It’s all changed since then,” revealed Izzet, with regards his own early upbringing.
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“There’s not much telling off these days. It’s like people are scared to tell people off because of the way that they will take it.
“Back in the Steve Whitton regime, if you weren’t doing stuff right then you got told, and told pretty quickly. That was the way it was – you got on with it.
“But people seem to take it to heart a bit more now and you end up having a row over something that doesn’t need to be rowed over.
“We’re all just trying to get to the same end product, which is winning games.”
Now aged 32, Izzet recalls his early days at Charlton, and also under Whitton at Colchester.
“I was petrified of the older pros! I didn’t even want to go into their dressing room!” continued Izzet.
“Now you get youth team players walking in and out of the pros’ dressing room – I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing that when I was a kid.
“Team spirit isn’t bad, it’s just sometimes you want to rip into someone, but you know you can’t because there is a chance you might have an argument and fall out with someone.
“Under Steve Whitton, he encouraged you to go out and have a beer together. Now you don’t do that anymore. Your fitness is the be-all-and-end-all – and rightly so,” concluded Izzet.