Gorkss' presidential ambition - Interview
Friday, 6th Oct 2017 10:04 by Ron Norris
In the second LFW interview from QPRnet's Ron Norris, former QPR defender Kaspars Gorkss talks about his time at the club, promotion, his sadness at how it ended and his ambition to be the president of the Latvian FA.
QPRnet: You were in your 20's when you first moved to England and Blackpool,. How did you find the move at that age, easy or a bit of a culture shock?
KG: I don't think that coming to England was a culture shock because it was what I wanted really. I had tried to play abroad before and it didn't go particularly well so I moved back to Latvia with the thought that I was going to study and play a bit of football on the side.
I signed for a local team called Ventspils and we got into The UEFA Cup and managed to draw Newcastle United. It would be fair to say that after that game at Newcastle my hunger to play football came alive again. Following that I decided to give it one last push and see if I could play to a good level, ideally in England, and I got my chance with Blackpool.
QPRnet: You were there a couple of seasons before QPR came in for you but the transfer itself got caught up in tapping up scandals. What was it like for you being stuck in the middle of that?
KG: Well I was told that I wasn't welcome back at Blackpool until the situation was resolved and I ended up stuck in London training in parks and waiting to be allowed to train with QPR. I think at the time Blackpool had agreed to sell me to some other team but I had said I wanted to move to QPR and it became a stand off between me and the club.
It wasn't great to be fair and I got injured in pre-season, probably as a result of being on edge and arguing with different people about different things, so it wasn't the perfect foundation for my move. I really wanted to play for QPR though because it was Dad's wish, I remember him showing me pictures of QPR kit in my childhood, he loved those Hoops! That stayed with me and it was the main reason I wanted to join.
QPRnet: At the time the club was run by Ecclestone and Briatore and there was much criticism about the way they ran the club. For you as a player moving there was that something you were aware of or do you not pay too much attention?
KG: I think by the time I got there the hype had died down a bit, they had already had all the legendary Briatore speeches before I arrived and I only got to hear one, something about a fast moving train and my capability to jump on it or stay on the platform.
There was that period when they changed so many managers though and that was the most frustrating thing but other than that they weren't that heavily involved. As a player your job is to get your head down and work for the club regardless. I was massively enjoying my time at QPR so I didn't really mind too much. The years went by, I was enjoying my football and concentrating on getting results and I would try not to care too much about what went on in the boardroom.
QPRnet: Is it fair to say players don't worry about that sort of thing generally, they just get on with football and leave that stuff to other people?
KG: I think that's the best way to do it. I mean at some point when you have a new manager every week and you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow then you start to think that this is a shambles but you more or less try to stay out of it.
QPRnet: You had eight managers in your first two years, Gareth Ainsworth twice, Iain Dowie signed you and was gone after a few months so I guess it was a bit chaotic?
KG: I think the way the sackings happened you felt it wasn't right but as a player you just move on. It's part of football, managers get sacked, players get sold and some of the times you agree with the decisions, others you don't. At the end of the day your job is to go on the pitch and play football. You can stay on good terms with departing managers or maybe not but you have to take care of yourself either way.
QPRnet: You got your first QPR goal in your second season, do you remember much about it?
KG: Yeah actually because Gavin Mahon was constantly making fun of me that I scored so many for Blackpool, came to QPR with all the controversy and all the fuss, and then couldn’t get one! But yeah I remember the goal it was Sheffield Wednesday away, we were in winter and Cat, the best kitman in the world, forgot one box of boots so we had to play in moulds! We won though, I scored and it was a fantastic day for me. I think that was the last nice moment before all hell broke loose really with managers changing every week.
QPRnet: You had all that change but once Neil Warnock came in it seemed to really settle things, how was he for you?
KG: He knew straight away what he wanted to do. He had been in that situation so many times that he knew one hundred percent what he needed to make a solid team in The Championship and that's what he came and did. For my game I was forbidden to take more than two touches and my obligation was to win every header in both penalty boxes! That was about it really, it was as simple as football can be but it produced results. We had a great squad there, a great bunch of boys with terrific team spirit and that led to good results.
QPRnet: Warnock came in and got that team spirit together so quickly and we then go and win the league?
KG: It was one of the best team spirits I've known in my career. We had our fights in the dressing room but when it came to football we went on the pitch as one, stuck in and got the results we wanted.
QPRnet: Adel Taarabt was a huge part of that season, what was he like for you to play behind?
KG: Fantastic player, if he would be more professional and have better advisers he would be one of the best in the world I’m sure. He was a great talent, had great skill, with incredible attributes and vision.
We had a team that played more or less for him to make something special happen and more often than not he did. That was one of Neil's masterstrokes to manage Adel, he used his man management skills and he knew how to get him going every week.
QPRnet: And also managing you guys to be happy doing all the running and work for him?
KG: Yeah but I think when the results start coming in and you see it's good for the team then for me it's not a problem. I always used to say someone plays on the piano and someone carries the piano. I was quite happy being the one who carries it and there were others who were happy to do the dirty bits as well in order for Adel to score those wonderful goals that he did.
QPRnet: Being QPR we couldn't just go and win the league normally, we had to have the whole Ale Faurlin problem hang over us. How did that affect you guys?
KG: To be honest I never thought of it really, I was probably one of the last to find out too. I remember it hanging in the air but we weren’t promoted at the time so we had to get that done first and then worry about it.
I just remember before the Leeds game Gianni Paladini running into the tunnel crying and shouting that they weren't going to deduct points from us. That was a happy day and probably relaxed us a bit before the Leeds game, maybe a bit too much! I remember how much emotion he had about it once we knew we were going up.
QPRnet: We were effectively promoted after the Watford game, did you celebrate that or was it all on hold because of the situation?
KG: I think we celebrated it, no one really spoke about it around that game really. We heard the rumours but it wasn't until after that anyone started to be worried about it.
QPRnet: We get to the summer, we are promoted to The Premier League and the club decides to move you on. What happened there and how disappointed were you not to stay?
KG: It's hard to even explain how disappointed I was. That was my dream to play in The Premier League and then I get told the club needed money to sign new players, that I was the one that can move on and and I could sign for whoever I wanted. That was a very hard time for me because I was so close to realising my dream but when you are being played as a winger in pre-season then you know the manager isn't really counting on you. It was another learning curve and maybe if I could do it all again then I would try to sit it out and prove to the club that I was still needed.
QPRnet: So you went to Reading and to make up for it you go and win The Championship again?
KG: That's a whole new story! But yeah I moved to Reading and there were similar attributes there from day one to QPR. Another fantastic club with a great bunch of guys and we managed to get promoted straight away which was probably a little bit unexpected for everyone really.
QPRnet: So then you do finally get to play in The Premier League and that leads to a couple of returns to Loftus Road. You score in both games. Strange feeling?
KG: Yeah it was especially the first goal. People asked me before would I celebrate if I scored and you never know how you are going to feel until you do it. I was going crazy inside but I had the best three years of my career at QPR, it's always going to be a special place and it's very hard even now thinking back to explain those emotions.
It's not even about celebrating or not celebrating really, it's just I have so much love for this club that it was hard for me. I know football is a business but I will always have such fond memories of QPR and especially Loftus Road, it's so special. If I could play one more game in any ground in the world I would choose Loftus Road.
QPRnet: You did get one more game back there after we were both relegated back to The Championship but that didn't go quite so well?
KG: Yeah, I got sent off, I mean we won though, but I got sent off although I think the red card was rescinded after.
QPRnet: You left England and played for a bit in Greece and Czech Republic, some good experiences there?
KG: I travelled around a bit! Everywhere I move I try to take as much as I can from it. It was tough to move away from England because there is nothing similar in terms of football. For me the atmosphere, the fans, the hype around the games, it's the best place to play.
QPRnet: You are 35 now, playing for your home town club Riga?
KG: Yeah it's a fairly new club, we don't really have a lot of clubs with years of tradition but I'm still playing, still captaining my country, we will see where it takes me.
QPRnet: How long are you looking to play for?
KG: It's always a hard decision but it probably won't be for another five years I'll tell you that. I understand this is one of my last seasons and I've got some time to let that sink in really. Eventually when it happens it's going to be hard, playing football is all I've done all my life and it's my favourite thing in the world.
QPRnet: And then what's next , you are lining up the next stage of your career I believe?
KG: Yes, all my career I've told everyone I must have some talent other than playing football because you cannot call me very talented at football! So I've been determined to find what that is. So next for me, it's not football management, I'm not going to be in any coaching roles because I don't have that teaching gene.
I would like to stay in football though. As you reach the end of your career you really start to appreciate the things football has given you and all the experiences you have gained around the world. I have travelled the world, I have a lot of experience and this is something I think I can give back to Latvia and to Latvian football. So now my my dream is to move into football administration and I have declared myself to run for president of The Latvian FA next April.
I'm determined to do everything I can to win that position and inspire Latvian people to love football and pass on as much of my knowledge as I can for the benefit of the game in my country.
QPRnet: In England the people who run The FA are administrative types in suits, is it more common in Latvia for it to be ex pros or are you breaking new ground?
KG: Football administration in Latvia hasn't changed for 25 years so I cannot really say. There hasn't been any big changes for that time.
QPRnet: What are you long term ambitions then, would you want to do this on a grander scale maybe?
KG: When I've played football I've taken everything one step at a time and now with this I will try to do the same and we will see where it takes me. You never know.
QPRnet: Looking back over your QPR career do you have a favourite performance in Hoops where you think that was 100% of me?
KG: The one that jumps to mind is Cardiff at home, they scored because of my mistake and then I got one back and we won. That was a game filled with fantastic emotions.
QPRnet: And of all the central defensive partners you played did you have a favourite? Someone you clicked with best?
KG: I loved playing with Matt Connolly, he was always my favourite to play alongside. I remember after the 2011 January transfer window we had signed Danny Shittu, who was a big favourite for QPR fans, and Pascal Chimbonda. Changes started to happen and by the time April came around we had two away games in four days at Scunthorpe and then Barnsley. For Scunthorpe I was on the bench and we lost badly, so for Barnsley Warnock brought me back in and asked me which defender I wanted to play with and I said Connolly. Trouble is Matt hadn't travelled with us so he had to drop everything and come up to the game. Luckily we won 1-0.
QPRnet: How do you want QPR fans to remember you?
KG: I don't know, I would just be honoured if they remember me at all that would be good enough. Everyone will have an opinion I guess but I'll be happy just to be thought of.
QPRnet: QPR are regularly bringing back ex players for half time at the moment, presenting them to the crowd. Is that something you would like to do one day, get back to Loftus Road and give everyone a wave!
KG: Definitely I would love to! I mean I’m not big on waving but I guess if I want to become president of The FA then it I need to practise so coming out for a wave at Loftus Road would be a good place to start! I would love to be back for sure.
Ron first started interviewing figures from the QPR present and past for QPRnet back in 2001. Across the next 13 years he racked up more than 50 chats with players, managers and officials — you can access the archive here. With the site now mothballed, LFW is more than delighted to be hosting Ron’s fresh interviews here, even though he brought us Richard Thompson to start with. We’re hoping to have the third instalment with you very soon indeed.
The Twitter @QPRnet, @EsUnPiens, @RichardNorris75
Pictures — Action Images
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