Dec - ‘Who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?’
Jack - “Tough question already,
There’s been a few over the years. One of the very first goalkeepers that really caught my eye was Cassilas at Madrid, I used to watch YouTube videos of him all the time. So he was one of the first goalkeepers that captured my attention and my love for position. As I’ve gotten older, my role models have changed and branched out into different sports. More recently getting to know Gordon Banks over the years. Everyone knows Gordon Banks, everyone knows what he achieved and I was very fortunate at the club to be able to get quite close to him. Despite him finishing playing a long time ago and now sadly passing is it sort of brought things home; some of the stories that he had and they way he managed to get to the top with little to no goalkeeping training, it was unbelievable. So certainly more recently he became a big role model to me in my career.”
Dec - ‘It shows how good players back then really were as they done it with no equipment and no specialist training that we have today. The next question is at what age did you get scouted for an academy and where was it?’
Jack - “So I was at Birmingham before Stoke, I joined Birmingham at 14 years old. But before then I played for a couple of development centres, I played for the county and I played Sunday league football, So I didn’t join in academy until I was 14. I was very lucky to get picked up when I did. I was just playing for a development side in Bristol, where I lived at the time, and we ended up playing at Birmingham’s training ground, so I was lucky at that point that there happened to be some academy coaches watching the game, They approached my dad and just asked whether I’d like to come for a trial. Six weeks on I’d signed a contract with the academy And then things sort of took off from there.”
Dec - ‘So, for those of our players that are worried that they’ve not been picked up by an academy, basically what Jack is saying is that it can happen at any time so stay relaxed and keep doing keep enjoying yourself and keep working hard. The next question is - What away ground has had the loudest fans?’
Jack - “That’s another very tough question, when we were in the Premier League I remember Crystal Palace away was a very difficult place to go to. They have one particular stand that contains the ultras who were always very loud. But yeah Crystal Palace always had a great atmosphere and I really enjoyed it.”
Dec - ‘Who is your favourite goalkeeper that you’ve worked with and why?’
Jack - “I was very lucky at Birmingham. I was getting the opportunity to train with the first team a couple of times a week. Joe Hart was brought in on loan to Birmingham so for me at that time Joe became a massive role model. He was bordering on becoming England’s number 1 and that’s where I wanted to be, so I was getting to train with him a couple of days per week. He had insane agility, was extremely powerful and had an extremely positive attitude and approach. So he was someone that I thought ‘that’s where I need to be and that’s who I need to follow’.”
Dec - ‘Did you always want to be a professional goalkeeper and which football pathway did you take to make it to the top?’
Jack - “Great question, initially I wasn’t a goalkeeper, I was a striker, which I loved, and it wasn’t until about 11 or 12 when I first played in goal properly, and the minute I did I was hooked. So for me I came into goalkeeping late without any real expectations of what I could do. But like I said the minute I went in goal that’s when I knew that’s what I wanted to do and then playing up front became less fun. One of the things I think that has helped me out a lot was that I loved all sports when I was young. At school I played everything I could, and I know for a fact that the amount of different sports I played when I was a kid helped me out, whether that be in terms of hand eye coordination, strength or flexibility, it all helped. All those base skills really came into play and things took off when I joined Birmingham.”
Dec - ‘What are the best attributes needed to be a keeper?’
Jack - “There is so many important ones, but a key one for me; and I think you’ll agree, is the mental aspect of it. As a goalkeeper, there is so many ups and downs on a daily basis, you will make mistakes you will make amazing saves it will all happen to you within one training session. No matter what age you are, you will always find that it’s important that you can be strong and move on from a mistake when it happens to you and to not let it affect your session or game.”
Dec - ‘Do you think it will be easier for young English players to break into the first team after COVID-19?’
Jack - “What a question. If I’m honest I don’t know. There’s so many unanswered questions for all of us at the minute it’s hard to gauge what’s going to happen. One thing for sure is that it is going to affect football no matter what age or what level, it’s going to affect it.
Financially it will affect some clubs, other clubs will be okay. it may affect some clubs’ ability to sign players for big money, so yeah I suppose you could look at it like that there may be an opportunity for young players but truthfully nobody knows what it’s going to look like and how it’s going to pan out.”
Dec - ‘Who is the best player you’ve shared the pitch with?’
Jack - “Good question. On my England debut, Frank Lampard led us out. We all know what Frank Lampard did how good he was and what he was capable of. So that was my first real taste of a superstar. That’s the first time I really thought ‘yeah this guy is on another planet.’ and I was also fortunate enough to play with Ryan Giggs during the 2012 Olympics so, I’d probably put them up there. Top of their game and definitely players that will go down in history.”
Dec - ‘How do you deal best with things when performances aren’t going to plan and times are tough?’
Jack - “As a goalkeeper, the game will always come to you you don’t need to chase it or to go and find it and try and change things that you can’t help.
But there was a stage in my career where I was trying to do those things.
But then I asked myself ‘what do I need to prove?’ I don’t need to prove anything. I don’t need to try any harder, I’m training the way I’ve always trained, sometimes things just don’t go to plan and I was just going through a sticky patch. And so was the team, so it was all going hand in hand.”