Bobby Zamora retired from football in December 2016 but he has remained very much a part of the game, including his new role as an Albion ambassador, as explained in this interview with the matchday magazine.
So Bobby, you’re back at the club as an ambassador. How did that come about?
Once I’d packed up playing, coaching was never a route I wanted to go down, but I still wanted to stay involved in the game somehow and certainly with Brighton because I love the club. The club were also keen for me to stay involved, so this is the perfect role for me. I’ve already got a great connection with the fans here, so to work the executive lounges on a matchday is something I’m really enjoying – and it’s my way of giving something back to the fans who supported me throughout my time as a player here. I’m also going to be working with Albion in the Community, which I see as a privilege given the fantastic work the charity does for people in the city and throughout Sussex, and I’m also going to be involved with the women’s team; I’ve already met some of their players and they’ve done superbly well to be playing in the Women’s Super League this season.
Tell us a little more about your matchday role at the Amex then…
I’ve always loved watching games here since I retired, and there’s an even bigger buzz now we’re in the Premier League, so for selected games I’ll be in the lounges telling a few stories and giving an insight into my life as a footballer. We’ll have Q&A sessions and I’ll also recall stories of playing against the day’s opponents. There’s always plenty of banter flying about and after the game I can also provide that little bit of insight into what’s gone on from a player’s perspective.
What else have you been up to since you packed up playing?
Football Escapes is doing very well and we’ve now expanded into Portugal, Cyprus, The Maldives, Dubai and now Beijing, providing excellent coaching for children in luxury surrounds and allowing parents some down-time on their own – although we are finding now that the parents are staying to watch the sessions we lay on. We’ve had the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Teddy Sheringham and Eidur Gudjohnsen join us and as I’ve now got more time on my hands, I’ve been able to attend every destination this year. Aside from that, the Legacy Foundation, set up by Mark Noble, Rio and myself, is also doing very well. The aim is to deliver schemes for local authorities that not only reduce the pressure on affordable housing and local community services, but will empower tenants through on-site community and sporting facilities. It’s a slow process which can get frustrating for us at times, but we’re now starting to see the rewards for our efforts.
It’s important to keep busy when you pack up playing, isn’t it?
I’m also doing a bit of property development, so I’m keeping really busy. As you say, when you pack up playing, it leaves a big void as something you’ve done religiously for the best part of 20 years – training and playing – disappears from your daily routine. What I miss most is the banter in the dressing room; there’s nothing better than going in every day for training and being part of that camaraderie with your team-mates. When I’ve been at the Amex for the big games, such as against Manchester United and Tottenham this season, it’s then that I miss being on the biggest stage, playing against the best players, and in the big-match atmospheres.
So you only miss the biggest games then?
To be honest, I don’t miss playing that much as I’ve opened a new chapter in my life now. For the last two seasons of my career, I wasn’t training every day and towards the end I wasn’t playing either, so I was weaned off it in a way – it wasn’t like I was playing one day and the next it was gone. That made retirement a smoother transition for me but you do need something to focus the mind on as you can only do so much sitting on the sofa at home watching boxsets.
Like you, Liam Rosenior and Steve Sidwell have become club ambassadors but they’ve also gone into coaching. You didn’t fancy going down that route then?
I would never say never, but at this stage of my life it’s not something that appeals to me. I do my Football Escapes coaching and I really enjoy that. It’s all about having fun, just enjoying the game for what it is, and there’s no pressure involved. If the kids coming away having improved their football and have had fun in the process, then that’s good enough for me. I’m delighted to have input at that level but being involved professionally doesn’t appeal to me, to be honest.
* If you’re interested in Football Escapes, visit www.footballescapes.com.
You can also discover more about the Legacy Foundation at https://legacyfoundation.co.uk.