Here is the next of our Q and A interviews. Today it is with Alex Nicholls. Alex was with the Saddlers for many years, and came through the youth academy. He made his debut in 2005, and left in 2012. Alex finished as the joint top scorer in the 11/12 season.
Firstly, how did you first become a part of the youth set-up at Walsall?
I was scouted at 12 and went through the age groups, I signed a 2 year scholarship at 16 then signed a pro contract at 18. It was a long process and hard work but I enjoyed every part of it.
What was it like working under managers such as Paul Merson, Richard Money, and Dean Smith?
Paul Merson gave me my debut and I was in awe of him, he was still playing alongside managing and the class he had on the pitch was ridiculous. I didn’t spend to much time around him as I was still in the youth team at the time but when I was involved with the 1st team he was great. Richard money was a fantastic manager he was doing things that hadn’t been seen at that level before such as his training sessions and video analysis, he left no stone unturned and we won the league in his first season, then we were doing really well in the league above but I think he felt the club lacked ambition when we sold the likes of Scott Dann and Danny fox in the January and he ended up leaving not to long after if my memory serves me correctly. Dean Smith was very similar to Richard money his attention to detail and clarity in what he wanted was awesome, we just didn’t have the quality in the squad to succeed, we scrapped about at the bottom of the league for a couple of seasons then he really strengthened and it was no surprise Walsall made the play offs.
Who were you closest to, in your time here at Walsall?
I was really close with Mark Bradley and Matt Sadler! I came through the youth team with Bradders and it’s great to see him back at the club, he does a great job and no’s what it takes to be a successful player. Sad’s is a great guy we bonded right away and I was really pleased to see him return last season.
What was your favourite goal in a Walsall shirt?
My favourite goal was probably my first against Swansea, I’ll never forget the feeling when the ball hit the net, it was incredible. I’ve never seen footage of it though as I’m not sure they recorded the game unfortunately.
Who is the best player you ever played with?
The best player I played with at Walsall was Paul Merson, he was a different level, also flo cuvelier was awesome when he came on loan from stoke unfortunately he suffered with injuries and a mention for Emanuel ledesma another top drawer player.
Who is the best player you ever played against?
The best player I played against was Patrick Berger, he was so good but worked so hard and he stuck one in the top bin and I just laughed to myself at how easy he made it look.
You have been unlucky to suffer two major injuries in your career, how did you fight back both times?
Injuries are part of the game, I was just unfortunate to have two bad ones at really pivotal moments in my career. I’m lucky to have great support at home and through hard work and dedication I managed to get back playing.
Do you still follow the Saddlers?
Yes of course I still check on how Walsall are getting on, when you spend such a long time at a club you don’t just forget about them when you leave.
What are you doing in this lockdown?
Not up to much at the moment with lockdown taking over, just the normal dad stuff, homeschooling etc. I also started my UEFA B coaching course last week so that’s given me something to focus on which has been good.
Finally, would you like to say anything to the Saddlers fans?
I’d just like to say I really enjoyed my time at the club, I spent a lot of my childhood and all of my youth at Walsall so the club will always mean a lot to me, I’m disappointed I never got to achieve more at Walsall but the people I met along the way outweigh that disappointment. Walsall are in good hands and the people in charge really care about the club, be patient and the good times will return, I’m certain of it.
Thanks to Alex for answering those, we wish him well and hope to see him back home soon!