sport news Sky Bet EFL Q&A: Bristol Rovers' Stuart Sinclair on growing his own vegetables

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They don't make many footballers like Stuart Sinclair - and more's the pity. The Bristol Rovers midfielder is adored by Gasheads (Rovers fans) because of his willingness to go out of his way for them, popping round to birthday parties if they ask him to or saying hello to someone's mum in a supermarket as a surprise.

And when it comes to the Sky Bet EFL Q&A, his answers at times turn into a stream of consciousness. But it is a stream you're quite happily swimming along with him.

It could have something to do with the fact that after coming through the youth system at Luton, Sinclair drifted into the lower reaches of non-league football with the likes of Cambridge City, Bedford, Dunstable and Arlesey Town before he was picked up by Salisbury City in National League South at the age of 24.

They don't make many footballers like Bristol Rovers' Stuart Sinclair - and more's the pity

They don't make many footballers like Bristol Rovers' Stuart Sinclair - and more's the pity

Now 31, it has been a long road, but one which has given him a sense of perspective about the professional game that so few players possess.

He is currently working his way back from his second concussion of the season, just one of the subjects he addresses.

Pony-tails, 'The Good Life', Fergie, Gazza and deep-fried chips. They are all in there. Enjoy.

Describe yourself on the pitch in 3 words.

Energetic. Combative. Hard-working.

Describe yourself off the pitch in 3 words.

Honest. Loyal. Quiet.

Best moment of your career so far?

There are so many. Obviously the promotions have been amazing. I've been promoted four times, through non-league and then from League Two (successive promotions with Rovers in 2014-15 and 2015-16). Climbing the levels has allowed me to achieve my dream that I probably thought would never happen. I'd come to terms with the fact that it was not going to happen.

My League Two debut as well, but also receiving a shirt with my name on again. When I was a kid at Luton, I received a shirt with my name on at 16 and that was an amazing achievement. My squad number was 37 and it had 'Sinclair' on the back. As a kid, that's something you aspire to do, but then to get it again at Salisbury at the age of 25 when we were in the Conference (now National League) was kind of a cool moment.

Then also lots of things off the pitch, like going to visit fans or even just people coming up to you. I had a father send me a message to say: 'I always scream "Sinclair" at my son on a Sunday when he doesn't work as hard as he should.'

It's amazing to think that someone could be affected like that by my hard work on the pitch. He'll tell him: 'Remember how Sinclair works,' and then his boy runs around again.

Sinclair describes himself as energetic, combative and hard-working on the football field

Sinclair describes himself as energetic, combative and hard-working on the football field

Who is the hardest opponent you have faced?

There was a lad who used to play for Southport, Scott Brown, when I was playing for Salisbury. He scored a wonderful free-kick against us in the Conference. He was quite combative but technically quite a gifted player.

I think he was at Everton as a young lad. I played against him two or three times and I used to hate playing against him because he was quite similar to me, hard-working but he was technically quite gifted. He was a nightmare to play against.

I used to think: 'How on earth is he playing at this level?'

Coming into that level, I generally had the legs on everyone I came across in the midfield because I worked in fitness. But that didn't seem to matter with him because he'd just wriggle his way out of things.

Most embarrassing moment in football?

There are a couple of those. One lad pulled my hair in a game and my hair fell out. It was up in a pony(-tail), out of the way. He yanked it and it fell out all over the place. That was interesting.

It's not a typical thing for a footballer, is it? I had lost my hair band, but I always try and keep a spare hair band on my wrist. if I lose my hair band, I'm scuppered because my hair goes down to the middle of my back.

I try and keep a spare because it's not the best thing going over to the physio or the gaffer and saying: 'Can I have a hair band?' But I love my long hair. I've had it such a long time.

Which song gets you in the mood for a match?

When Ellis Harrison was here at Rovers, me and Ellis used to have a dance to things like Drake, a track called 'One Dance.' Typical normal stuff. We used to have a dance in the changing room before a game and that was always fun.

But nowadays, I'm into Motown and no-one wants to play that before a game, so I listen to my Motown on my way to the game, just the classics and have a good singalong.

What's your guilty food pleasure?

Probably fried food. My mum and dad run a catering business, so as a kid we used to have that occasionally and it just brings me back to my childhood with all my brothers and my family.

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