Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

An interview with Chelsea and England great Dennis Wise

An interview with Chelsea and England great Dennis Wise
by rick olivares

I have to admit that I wasn’t that familiar with Dennis Wise. Yes, I have read about him and seen him play on television on maybe one or two occasions. That’s more of because I am not a fan of Chelsea. Didier Drogba maybe but that’s about it.

But when I first heard that Wise was going to be joining this year’s Clear Dream Match, I went back to re-read what material I had on him.

I entered the interview room and shook hands with Wise who despite being in the country for less than 24 hours was in a jovial mood.

Rick: Hi, Dennis. Welcome to the Philippines.

Dennis: Thank you. I’m thrilled to me here.

Rick: How are you holding up with the jet lag?

Dennis: I arrived yesterday at 330pm. I am a bit jet lagged. Had a couple of beers then saw the guys to get to know them a bit. And today I’m training and meeting the rest of the team.

Rick: Are you worried about having heavy legs for the match?

Dennis: (laughs) I am not worried I’d have heavy legs. I have a couple of young guys around me to do a bit of running. (laughter as Phil Younghusband joins in) I’ll be directing them here and there. But I should be okay. And I am looking forward to the match.

Rick: Phil has talked about watching you from a far during his youth days in Chelsea.

Dennis: Phil was so young back then. And I was too (every one breaks out in laughter). Ah, yes. Good old days.

Rick: That was some team you played with in Chelsea. Who would stand out in your mind?

I was fortunate enough to have played with some amazing players. Obviously, there’s Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Di Matteo, and Gustavo Poyet. We also had that outstanding Frenchman Marcel Desailly and George Weah. Now you have me reminiscing about those days (laughter all around).

(Pauses then Wise turns serious as if things have come flashing back) I was lucky enough to play with those guys. Lucky lad. And there are some guys I am not mentionin’ because it has been a while. I am fortunate enough to win games and some trophies with them. One of life’s blessings.

Rick: You’ve played a lot of matches in a career that spanned over two decades…

Dennis: It was that long, huh? (laughter all over)

Rick: Long and memorable I would say. What three matches would stand out in your mind today?

Dennis: I’ve certainly been a part of some memorable things. I think more it was the 2000 FA Cup finals when I had the opportunity to carry my six-month old son, Henry, who is now 13 and I wouldn’t be able to carry him, out there as we celebrated. It is something he would be too young to remember but now he can look back at it and say, I was out there.

They sing a song about me in Chelsea when I scored against AC Milan in the Champions League that got us through the quarterfinals which where we needed to get a point there. I am honored that the fans remember me for that. And that was a massive game for us.

Obviously there’s those two and playing for your country. I scored against Turkey in my debut so it would be those three matches right there.

Rick: You are an important player for Chelsea and you helped create some history for a club that didn’t have much before. How do you feel to be thought about in that light?

Dennis: (nods) Um, I think it was more of achieving something. It had been a long time since Chelsea had won any trophies – thirty-five or thirty six years or something like that.  To break that was something. And we broke that. We achieved something. And it took a long time to do it. But I don’t think like that. I used to play the game, for one, I tried to win it. I wanted to win every game we played wherever we may be. Two, I also wanted to enjoy the game because I felt it was a privilege to play and not many are able to play in the Premier League. And three, to bring in the fans. And I had a real good rapport with the fans.

People don’t realize some things. When we won the cup finals, I pulled out a young boy from the crowd and plonked him on my knee and we’d be having some photos. There are a lot of kids in there. And you wonder who the kids are. And they are sharing a moment with us. And I felt it was important to give something back to the fans and you want them to be a part of the moment. It was like bringing my son to celebrate with us. These are moments that people remember.

Rick: I sort of asked this earlier but I would like you to expound a bit. In your long career, you’ve played against the best in the world. Who would be the memorable ones, teammates and opponents, please?

Dennis: I had some difficult moments against Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira. Patrick Vieira is probably the most difficult players to go against. He was bloody strong and very talented. One the field, we had some moments together. (smiles) But off the field he is a really nice guy.

Gianfranco (Zola) is a little genius on the pitch. Some of the things he could do was quite frightening. He saved us many times. Love the guy. I still see him now which is quite good.

Rick: (pointing to the Team Phil Clear jersey that Dennis is wearing) That jersey resembles your old Chelsea shirt. What do you think of it and playing again?

Dennis: It’s nice to sometimes to put the shirt back on and play. I am looking forward to this because it will be good fun. But my good fun is taking things seriously. So I will do my best to help Phil make it 2-nil against his brother. (winks at Phil who laughs and raises his hands).

Rick: My last question…

Dennis: You said that earlier…. (laughter all over)

Rick: I did? (checking my list of questions). Nah, I didn’t. You’re kidding me. (more laughter around). Your last stint with a football club was with Leeds in 2008. Are you done with the game?

Dennis: I decided to take a bit of time out to see my kids grow up. I spent a lot of time in the game and management and in that time, I didn’t get enough time to see my family. There was Milwall, Leeds, Swindon, and a bit of Newcastle. I realized that things were passing me by and my children were growing up. So I decided to take some time and spend it with my family. Although I do some television work occasionally.

This (Clear Dream Match) is the start of my comeback. (laughter). 


My interview with Fabio Cannavaro here!

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