Matisse: First of all Paul, how are you? What a book you released in 07/08 ‘Black and Blue’. A book that goes through such raw detail about both your personal life and public life as a footballer. I must ask, how difficult was it to write this book?
Paul: Thank you. It was a mixture of emotions. Having to dig to deep & express painful memories & tragic times.
Matisse: I can only imagine… Continuing on, of course being Chelsea’s first ever Black player, you were the man to paint the way & take the hit for future black Chelsea players to come down the line. In the form of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Dider Drogba to name a few. However, it feels from a personal standpoint that football hasn’t made the progress I expected it to, with racial issues in Italy and with the England National team last year. What have you made of the ‘progress’ or lack of?
Paul: At least now where in a time racial abuse is being recognized & action, though not firm enough action, is seen to be being taken. The penalties & message is not yet heavy enough to stop players experiencing this type of anti social behaviour enough. As society on a whole had to change a lot. We are making progress. It’s in baby steps & sadly not fast enough.
Matisse: You went through some unthinkable heart-wrenching events as a Chelsea player, the well known quotes of abuse you received whilst warming up pre match. How did you develop such a mentality to combat this, was it part of your upbringing?
Paul: Growing up second generation Windrush. I watched my mum rise up resilient against racism everyday of her life. Due to the skinheads & National front, whose presence rose heavily in those times. As black children we knew there were certain ‘no go’ areas & times not to be out on the road. You kind of expect it but not accept it. Even when I experienced it first hand from fans & a few players.I was shocked & totally taken back. I’d let my skill do the talking & when faced with racist aggression I’d stand my ground & fight back.
Matisse: That’s truly inspirational to hear a similar fight shown Porto striker Moussa Marega just a few days ago! It wasn’t so long ago Tammy Abraham was racial abused online for missing a penalty in a game. Do you feel social media has made the situation worse (in particular Twitter) and is there a way of combating/ stopping these things from reoccurring?
Paul: Social media is a worldwide platform which is a good thing. However a lot more could have been done to shut those accounts down. As those who do so will just open up under a different name & continue to sprout verbal abuse. Until Racism is up there with say homophobic abuse; & seen other than those who experience it as a real hate crime, those individuals who choose to do it, will continue to get away with it unless they run a real risk of being jailed for it.
Matisse: Couldn’t agree more! Thanks for answering those tough questions, it was vital for us to spread this awareness and information to our younger demographic readers. Onto the topic of football it’s self. You got to play in the old Stamford Bridge, watch Chelsea in the current Stamford Bridge, and see the plans I hope for the new Stamford bridge. So, the question is. Out of the three which would be your favourite visually?
Paul: Hmmm, let’s see! Whilst I’m proud to be part of the new Stamford Bridge – as I get to take part in doing hospitality. For me, it has to be the old Stamford Bridge. As it holds a lot of nostalgia for me.
Matisse: Completely understandable, Onto this season which had been an exciting one to say the least? Which players have caught your eye the most this season? Especially with such a wide variety of young fresh Cobham talent on display.
Paul: With so much young talent coming through I’d have to say Hudson, Mount, Cheek & Reece.
Matisse: If I had to choose between those you’ve selected, it would be Cheek, he excites me with training images let alone playing! So, time appears to be changing from a vision standpoint and a cultural one too. With Frank, Jody, Petr and many others back at the club stamping their authority and ideas. The link from board to manager seems to be closer than previous years. Upon the signing of Ziyech in the last week. If given the power which player would you sign up for the Pride of London?
Paul: Wow! Now that’s difficult one as we have the BEST Youth Academy in the world. It would be hard to give you just one name.
Matisse: Haha fair enough, I put you on the spot there for sure. You’ll know the feeling of scoring your first Chelsea goal. To which we’ve seen the emotion pour out multiple times this season from the likes of Reece James, Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic with their first Chelsea goals. Can you describe to us what that feeling is like?
Paul: Words can’t describe the feeling. It’s the biggest surge of energy & emotion. All rolled into one!
Matisse: Finally, I love to throw in a tricky question for our special guests towards the end here. We are currently still in the FA Cup whilst chasing Champions League Qualification for next season in the league. I must ask, if you had to choose between a FA Cup win in our 1970s tribute kit at Wembley or a Champions League Qualification, which would you choose?
Paul: If I had to choose. It would most definitely be our FA cup win in the ‘70s. When we made football history.
Matisse: Thank you so much for chatting to us Paul, it’s been a pleasure. Hopefully we won’t have to choose between the two and Chelsea can go ahead and take both! London is blue, we’ll sign out on that!
Paul: Thank you! Keep up the hard work. Always have & always will be. Proud to be part of Chelsea FC.
Matisse: P.S Readers! Our Legend Paul here started his Email to me with “Hope this Helps..” Now that right there is a Chelsea Legend! On that note that’s all from me, time to take on Spurs!
Paul Canoville’s Website: https://www.paulcanoville.co.uk/