I was fortunate enough to meet up with Lee Camp at the City Ground after training yesterday afternoon where he opened himself up to some questions from our forum members. Part 1 of the interview is below (part 2 will follow on Monday).
In part 1 we cover his loan move from QPR last season, his disappointment at missing out on our battle for survival and go all the way back to his first ever game as a goalkeeper.
As someone who grew up in Derby, played for Derby, was it an easy decision to join Forest on loan last season?
As soon as I knew they were interested I said yes, simple as that.
Were you disappointed that you had to go back to QPR and wait till the end of the season before getting the chance to come back to the City Ground?
Yeah, I always thought I would stay, always seemed that things were pretty positive, that things were going to be extended to the end of the season. Obviously the change of manager happened at the same time as my loan was about to end.
There were a lot of rumours at the time that the reason you left Derby was because of Billy [Davies].
Well that was myths, but yeah I was disappointed, I would have liked to continue what we were doing but such is life, you don’t always get what you want and it wasn’t to be.
Something I’ve wondered since you joined Forest on loan, why weren’t you first choice at QPR? What went wrong?
Well I signed in the summer and the following February I signed a four and half year contract (a very nice contract) and was told I was the future and literally overnight everything changed. I’m probably the first of many that they have wasted a lot of money on. I have my suspicions why it happened but I have no real concrete evidence so I just put it down to one man and his dog.
Are you surprised that your transfer fee was so small (rumour £100k plus clauses) compared to some of the other players we signed in the summer? Are you disappointed that you didn’t become a million pound goalkeeper?
No not really. The only thing I will say is that QPR did devalue me in the way they went about the business but I guess when the owners are billionaires what’s a hundred grand here and there? Money is not an object but that was the fee and I think it just shows how much QPR wanted me off the books.
At the start of this season what was the club’s aim?
Progression, establish a top ten Championship club. The investment that went into the club and the ambition of the manager and his record. The manager makes a good point when he says we didn’t make any signings the January before and the team just about stayed up last year so there had to be a certain amount of turnaround for the way he wanted to play and for the way the team wanted to progress. I think that was the starting target, but the way the manager is and the quality of the players we have, the league table doesn’t lie. We are perhaps a little ahead of time but I guess you can’t stop progression can you?
Do you have any pre-match superstitions?
No, not really. We do the same warm-up but nothing major.
What has been your greatest moment in football so far?
Representing England [U21] in the first game at the new Wembley. It was obviously a special occasion and that’s something no one can ever take away from me
You conceded a goal in that one?
Yeah, 28 seconds!
What has been his worst moment in football?
I remember my first ever game in goal, we got beat 19-nil. That left me questioning if I wanted to play in goal. It was (I think) for the under 10s at Mickleover Jubilee.
I guess you didn’t get much protection from the defence.
It was weird because the team was just thrown together and was asked do you want to play (we didn’t have anything better to do so why not) and we went and got beat 19-nil. It was quite exciting but to get beat was a little embarrassing.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t know, nearly turning 30 I guess! It’s hard to say. If you’d told me I’d be looking for a new club after signing a four and half year contract at QPR I’d probably have laughed at you. Who knows? I would like to play in the Champions League with Nottingham Forest, that would be nice, if only we had a crystal ball.
How does the crowd help/hinder your performances?
When you see national players walk out and get booed at the national stadium representing the country, whatever the reason, it doesn’t help. It doesn’t get to me personally, but they pay the money and when they come into the ground they are entitled to their opinion as much as anyone. Whatever makes them happy, I guess
What is your personal opinion regarding home fans returning to the Bridgford End?
It would make it more intimidating for the away teams, everyone likes to kick towards their own fans. It would be nice for me because I’d like to think the Forest fans wouldn’t throw coins and cups of tea at me. If it helps the atmosphere and benefits the team then why not? It’s our ground.
Who is your football hero?
Peter Schmichael. He was the man making the headlines when I started to play in goal. Man U were the team at the top and he was the main player in that team. As a goalkeeper you tend to look at people in your position and he was the one who was in the spotlight.
What do you consider your own strengths and weaknesses?
One of my strengths is probably mental toughness. I try not to get too high when things are going well and likewise not get too down when it’s not going so well.
Weaknesses: I probably don’t think before I speak sometimes. Distribution – for goalkeepers nowadays it is so crucial, if you look at people like Reina, Van Der Sar, they’re probably the best in the business at doing it.
Are your hands insured?
Not specifically, no.
Which team would you love to play with and against?
I’d have liked to have played in the Busby Babes team, that was a special team, it was unfortunate. I’d like to play against Manchester United. I’ve never played at Old Trafford.
Which player past, future or present would you love to play with and against and why?
I want to play with someone who wouldn’t bend it past me! I’m thinking George Best but he could humiliate you. Beckham could probably bend it in from anywhere. I don’t know. A tough one but I’d probably have to say George Best, he was special everyone that you speak to and had the chance to see him play said he was unbelievable. From a defensive point of view it would have been quite something to see him in full flow.
What are the best and worst things about having Billy Davies as your manager?
The best thing: his attention to detail, his coaching, his man management, his desire and hunger for the game, and mental determination to prove people wrong probably keeps the fire lit in his belly. Probably the worst thing is when he’s coming at you like a Rottweiler – touch wood my time here and at Derby I haven’t been at loggerheads with him, but I can imagine if you ever did it would be interesting!
In part 2 Lee gives his answers to more of the questions that came from our forum members, including the all important “Who is better, Camp or Smith?” and the equally important (to Anatoli anyway) “What story would he read if he was on Jackanory?”