Looking back on my childhood, it was evident that my future career was already set in stone. From the time I was able to kick a ball, let alone say the word, I was dribbling rolled up socks in and out of the house like I was already a member of a Premier League team.
I was born in the heart of Canning Town, East London, and was raised with Christian values. My relationship with God has been there from an early age as I attended church every Sunday without fail. I truly believe that my football skills are a gift from God.
I showed potential from an early age and I was lucky enough to become the captain of my school team by the age of six. I had a good upbringing in a large working-class family who continued to support me in my growth, progression and love of football.
Growing up, I loved school. But during lessons my mind was always racing with when I would get the next chance to play football. I couldn’t wait to hear the sound of the school bell so I could get out on the playground and kick a ball. One day I attended a final at a local ground in East London where I managed to score six goals in the first half of the game. My teacher approached my mum at the end of the match and said he had “never seen anything like it”.
Charlton was the first football team I played for after representing my district. It was after attending a football camp at Bisham Abbey that I was put forward for the National FA School, which helped build on my ever-increasing confidence.
At the age of 14 I won a scholarship to the FA National School of Excellence at Lilleshall, which meant that I had to move away from my family for two years. Lilleshall was THE best place to develop my skills and other top footballers such as Sol Campbell and Michael Owen had also been attendees. Charlton was the first football team I played for after playing for my district teams. It was after attending a football camp at Bisham Abbey, that I was put forward for the National FA School, which helped build upon my ever-increasing confidence.
At the age of 16 I signed my first professional contract with West Ham United, where I scored on my debut for the first team. My first major accomplishment was when I was sent on loan to Bournemouth. I scored 10 in my first 10 games, which gave me my first taster of the press attention I was set to receive for the rest of my football career. During my career I’ve also played for Portsmouth and twice for Tottenham.
Playing for Tottenham Hotspur has enabled me to achieve many accomplishments such as scoring my 100th Premier League goal, as well as my 100th goal scored as a Tottenham player. In addition, it signified the 1000th goal scored for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League era.
After a brief spell for Toronto FC in the MLS, I returned to the Premier League and signed for Sunderland AFC in January 2015.
Throughout the years I have been lucky enough to represent my country at international level. In 2010 I was a member of the England World Cup squad which filled me with a great sense of pride, as being able to compete on a world stage was a dream come true.
There are many things that I have achieved in my career but nothing meant more to me than being able to buy my mum a house.
Coming from a working class background, I make an effort to go into local communities where I attend presentations for charitable causes. I feel honoured to work alongside the many different organisations that are making every effort to give back to those that are in need.
I understand the importance of working hard to achieve goals and throughout my life I follow the belief that dedication plus hard work equals success.