Jason Cundy: Chelsea, punditry, presenting and life after football

Photograph is courtesy of Talksport. Listen to Jason and Andy Goldstein on the Sports bar weeknights from 10pm.

You retired in the year 2000. How are enjoying retirement from professional football. Do you miss playing and you are a well known pundit on among others talkSport radio and other mediums and have is life for you these days?

Life is good. I was forced into retirement in the year 2000 due to a knee injury that I sustained the year before and I was only 29 years old. I had kind of come to terms with it over that year that I was going to retire and I got my head around it and I had some many injuries throughout my career that it became a chore and an effort just to get fit and once I got fit I could not stay fit and the knee injury that I retired on even to this day I still have problems with so it was pretty bad.

I was very young and I still believed that I had many years left of playing but it was snatched away from me so I come out of football quite bitter actually. I found it difficult to kind of comes to terms with the fact that my career was ended the way it was and my career went the way it did through so many injuries.

I also had cancer as well throughout that time and it felt like I must have done something in a previous life to have had so much bad luck with injuries that I kind of left the game very bitter and when I retired I did not watch football for more than a year. I received a payoff and my new son was born in the year 2000 and for that next year I just spent with the family just enjoying life away from training and I had a year off which was lovely but of course you can’t live the rest of your life like that and I had to get myself into some sort of normality really so I started coaching the under 12’s at Chelsea FC’s Academy and that is where my love of football started to regrow.

I then started to do more and more media work and I had plenty of chats with people about testicular cancer and I done a piece on talkSport and one of the producers came up to my afterwards and he seemed to like my manner and the way I spoke and he asked me if I would be interested other bits for us on the football side and I said absolutely and it slowly stared to grow from there and off course the year 2000 is a long time ago now and a lot has happened to me since then I had precancerous cells which I had to deal with.

I have been divorced and had another two two sons with my previous wife and one with my current partner but now I am doing more and more media work and I could not find time for both coaching and media work as I was doing stuff for Sky, talkSport as well as been a presenter for Chelsea TV so I kind of fell into it really, it was not part of my plan, it opened up for me and I am grateful because I love it and I am very lucky and my passion and love for football that I had as a young kid I am happy to say that it is still burns now and I have been very lucky to have had a career playing football and now on the other side of the pitch talking about it.

You came through the youth setup, debuted and made appearances for Chelsea FC. How do you look back on your time at the club.Do you have any highlights and special memories and what does the club mean to you?

“Stamford Bridge on a Champions League evening”by Ben Sutherland is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Well, I was a Chelsea FC supporter as a kid and I was training at Crystal Palace, Wimbledon, Arsenal and West Ham United but the only team I wanted to play for was Chelsea and I had to get my Dad to write to the club for a trial and they send down one of their scouts and asked me along to training and that was that I just wanted to play for Chelsea as a kid and I was lucky enough to fit full that dream.

I still love the club and I went to my first game at Stamford Bridge in November 1976 when my Dad took me for my birthday and I have been going on and off there ever since in different capacities whether that be a fan, a youth team player, professional, an academy coach and now working in the media and Chelsea mean the world to me. Football is an absolute drug and you have one club. It is not like partners or friends. You have one club for life and I am incredibly lucky and fortunate to have worked for the club I love and it is a labour of love and still to this day I go along and it is a busman’s holiday for me.

I go and watch Chelsea play and commentate on them. What is not to love. It means a huge amount to me and I am incredibly proud that I played for the club and the only part was the way I left. I had only had two seasons at the club and they sold me but that is football, you learn that very quickly that there is a ruthless and business side to football that even though your heart may be at the club money and finances take a very different avenue and they along with other people decide your career for you and that is certainly how it was back in the nineties, not like it is now.

Chelsea FC is my club and all three of my boys along with my Dad support the club and that is where I come from so I have been incredibly lucky and I still feel so privileged to still be part of what is my club.

You signed for Tottenham Hotspur after a successful loan period. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

“Spurs – White Hart Lane – Airads 300406 – 3” by Max Montagut is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Well, unfortunately James my career when I left Chelsea seemed to learn from my injury to another and I suffered a lot of injuries and Spurs and I was out for a huge amount of time. I had a knee and a back injury which kept me out for the best part of three seasons so my memories of Spurs are unfortunately for me ones of just incredible pain due to the injuries through no fault of anyone else’s.

It is just I had the disc problem that even when I retired I had to have it removed eventually. It was a really tough and at times very lonely time due to my injuries my career never got going again at Spurs and I look back on it now with not many fond memories due to the injuries and it is difficult to put into words how frustrated I was at the time as a young man moving to the club and your career goes very quickly within five years of me being at Spurs I had hardly played any games and I was injured for the vast majority of the time and I could not get my career back on track and eventually I had to move away to get it going again.

It was a very unfortunate situation where I look back on and think what if I hadn’t had those injuries and unfortunately that is life and I have learned to deal with plenty of setbacks over life not just in football but outside of football too and you just have to get on with it and looking back over my time at Spurs for personally it was one of utter frustration and the back injury I was an absolute killer to be honest with you.

You accrued good experience during your professional career. When you look back could you say who were among the best players you played alongside?

The player who stands out for my personally as a young boy coming into Chelsea’s first team was Paul Elliott. I loved playing with Paul and I really looked up to him having playing abroad in Italy for AC Pisa 1909 and also in Scotland for Celtic FC and he was a man’s man, a proper captain and a leader and we had a few at the time in Dennis Wise and Andy Townsend.

“Andy Townsend” by mollyig is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Playing alongside Paul taught me a huge amount and even to this day I still regard him as a good friend and I look back as that young 20 year old making his way in the game. Paul took me under his wing and we build a brilliant partnership together.

I can imagine that you also come up against some very good opponents in your career, Could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

Well, When I look back on the players I played against my god! The best player I played with and against was Alan Shearer. We played together at under 21 level for England and he was one of the very best I played against and he was rock hard as well. I don’t think people realize how physically tough he was to play against. He was not the biggest lad in the world but he could dig and enjoyed playing against him.

“Eric Cantona” by Robert_Ball is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Mark Hughes was another good player who was brute force up to. Eric Cantona is another player and when you come off the pitch you know you are up against someone special and Alan Shearer and Eric Cantona in particular were absolutely on a different level.

Finally Jason, Could you say who are the coaches and managers who have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development?

Not necessarily my development but certainly my career. I was at Tottenham Hotspur and like I said I had to get away to rebuild my career as I had been injured and George Burley took my to Ipswich Town and he placed a huge amount of faith in me. I went on loan initially and then I made the deal permanent and he also made my captain for a period of time and he got my career back on track and allowed me to get back playing first team football again after years of sitting on Tottenham Hotspur’s treatment table and it took a lot because I was a bit of a gamble at the time due to my injury record being so bad.

“george burley scotland rear” by northernsportshirtsis licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

I look back on that and I am grateful that he gave me that opportunity to go and play first team football. I am good friends with George and it was a brilliant time. We also came very close to promotion and I loved it down at Ipswich Town and unfortunately I broke my ankle another injury and eventually my contract ran out and I left the club.

My Dad Vic Cundy and my parents without them there is no way I would have been a professional footballer and they took me everywhere as a young kid and as a child growing up we were not particularly well off and they made sure that I made every single training session, every single game and that I was on time too and I am grateful to my parents for the sacrifices they made for me.

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