This is the VICE Interview. Each week we ask a different famous and/or interesting person the same set of questions in a bid to peek deep into their psyche.
"Hello Joel, it's Kammy," Chris Kamara says, then adds as if in brackets, "(Chris Kamara)." Chris Kamara. Chris Kamara. I am talking to Chris Kamara and he just explained who he is, in brackets, in case the scheduled phonecall I had with Chris Kamara threw me for a loop and I forgot who I was talking to. This interview is already off to an amazing start.
If you don't know who Chris Kamara is, he is a former player (Leeds, Stoke, Middlesbrough) and manager (Bradford, Leeds), but also, primarily, he's a sort of perfect punditry buffoon, a thousand-yard stare with a moustache underneath it, a 'Biggest Live TV Gaffes!' constantly primed and ready to happen, a nü legend, a flawless innocent banter angel we do not and have never deserved. Anyway I spoke to him about air turbulence, horses and poppadoms.
VICE: Chris Kamara – would you have sex with a robot?
Depends how good-looking it was! It's gotta be one that you look at and you go 'wow. Is that really a robot? It can't be. That's the most beautiful robot I've ever seen that looks like a woman'. You know, I'm not a weirdo!
What would be your last meal if you were on death row?
Oh, I'd have a curry. I'd have a chicken biryani, vindaloo hot. I'd have some poppadoms if I've got time before. You can't have so many starters, or you can't finish it.
If you were a wrestler, what would your entrance music be?
[Chris Kamara is singing] You're unbelievable! Bomb a bom ba bom… [Laughs]
What conspiracy theory do you believe?
I do have a conspiracy and off the top of my head… come on, come on… what is it, what is it? Come back to that one, let me have a think about that one.
If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you carry on doing what you're doing or would you just stop working altogether and live a life of luxury?
No, I'd carry on doing what I'm doing. I absolutely love my job. It's amazing. You know, the football side of it and now the entertainment side of it. It couldn't possibly get any better. So yeah, I'd keep working for as long as they'd have me, and then go and enjoy me multimillions after that.
In the past month, what is the latest that you've slept in?
Well, I'm not a good sleeper. I'm really not a good sleeper but I've got some tablets that I bought in America… hang on a second, I've got them here! Because I didn't take any last night but I've got them, I'll tell you what they are. [Goes away and gets them for fucking ages] Right, they are called Ibuprofen PM caplets and they have got a night time sleep aid, so if ever, ever, I need eight hours sleep – because sometimes occasionally I'm absolutely knackered – and I take two of them and you can get an eight-hour sleep without moving. They're fantastic, but it does have a warning on them not to take them very often, so I don't. The only reason I don't take them all the time is because of the warning on there saying you might get addicted to them.
What's the nicest thing that you own?
I've got some horses which, unfortunately due to my job, I don't spend enough time with them, but they're my release when I get home. I go down to the stables, muck 'em out and spend a bit of time with them and they love me and it's great just going home to see them. I've got two at the moment, two rescue ones. We'll get a couple more in as the summer goes on to get the grass down, so we'll open doors for two others to come in.
What was your worst phase?
I would probably say when I was around 15; 15 to 17. My hair was shocking. It was really just a massive frizzy afro. I had a broken front tooth from when I came off my bike as a kid, and I look back at those pictures and I think, 'arghhh!'
When in your life have you been truly overcome with fear?
Oh yes. When I was on a plane… I'd only just signed with Leeds United and we were on a trip to Shelbourne in Dublin and the managing director, Bill Fotherby… they were closing the runway because of a high wind going across the channel from Leeds Bradford to Dublin. Leeds needed the money at the time, so Bill Fotherby convinced the airport to let the plane go and our plane fighting against the wind, went down like a drunken man walking down the runway. The plane took off, and we were dropping… it was probably only 12 feet at a time, but it felt my stomach was dropping out. But the thing was, me and Vinnie Jones being the two hard men at the team, everyone was looking at us and we had to put that false, 'Ha ha, it's not a problem', whereas they were in fear and so were we, really. We were dying on the inside, but on the outside we were trying to hold it all together, and it was one of those where you thought, 'We're not going to get there, we're not going to get there,' but we did. After that: flying for me after that journey has not been a problem. Any sort of air turbulence and stuff like that doesn't bother me one iota, and so in a way it was a good experience, but a bad experience at the time. I can remember Lee Chapman and Peter Haddock being sick into the sick bags that you've got and people just saying their prayers thinking, this is it, you're not gonna make it.
What's the grossest injury or illness you've ever had?
Well, when I was at Leeds it was the best and worst time of my career, because when I was a kid it was my ambition to play for Middlesbrough, where I was born and my dream to play for Leeds, and everyone said I couldn't have two teams. The only reason I had two teams at that particular time was because Leeds were the go-ahead team at the time. We didn't have a telly and when I popped down to my mate's house, they were the top team, so you sort of dreamed of one day playing for them. So I managed to do both of those, but I absolutely stay 100% neutral these days, because everyone says, 'Oh, you know, that's not possible!' but it is possible, because one of my best friends in the whole world is Steve Gibson, we went to school together from the ages of five to 15 in the same class, and he thinks I've got more against Boro than Leeds on TV to compensate which I don't, and Leeds fans think I should be like Jeff Stelling is with Hartlepool, which Jeff only gets away with that because it is Hartlepool! So I do stay 100% neutral. Oh sorry, what was the question again?
No, it's fine. How do you actually stay neutral?
I'm now working for Sky television in terms of reporting football matches, and everybody seems to like the approach to that, so I keep it that way. But yeah, sorry so like I was saying, that injury was… I got injured playing against Coventry City. I'd done my ankle really bad and I was out for eight months. Having got to Leeds and got settled in with the old first division, which is the Premier League now, and then to get an injury like that, and because I was into my 30s, just going into my 30s, I was put down as an injury risk, so it cut short my time.
At least you've still got this post-career.
Yeah, well this is amazing really, so… and it just gets better and better! Yeah, so my conspiracy theory is the same as everyone else's, it's the Princess Diana one. That one doesn't make sense to me, yeah… I still can't work that one out, whether it was a genuine accident or not.
What film or TV show makes you cry?
This is an old film from donkeys' years ago, but the first film I ever… the first time I ever cried watching a movie was when I was watching The Champ. The Champ was about a boxer who had a son and he split from his wife and his son absolutely loathed him, any way The Champ, I can't remember the name of the actor this morning off the top of my head, but that's the first time I ever cried over a movie, so if you Google The Champ you'll find out who's in it and… the boxer eventually died in the ring and the young son was left crying.
What memory from school stands out to you stronger than any other?
When I was 15, I used to pick the school football team. It was for Mr Lockern, who was the head teacher, because I was playing for Middlesbrough Boys at the time, and he said, 'you play in the playground with all these other players, I don't see them all the time, so you pick the team'. So at the age of 15 I was a player-manager! I picked the team, and all the lads, so I used to get a bit of flack, so… I was playing for Middlesbrough Boys with Lee Cattermole's dad, who plays for Sunderland, Barry, played with him, who else? That was it namesake-wise… there's a couple of lads who went on. Bill Athey, the cricketer, he went on to be a cricketer for England. He was in our Middlesbrough Boys team. So yeah, we produced a few. And obviously, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson. He was in the school team, not the Middlesbrough Boys team.