Patrick Agyemang speaks exclusively to ElWriteBack about his career and what he has planned for life after football.
The forward played for a number of sides including Queens Park Rangers.
The 2010/11 season was a special one for former Ghanaian International, Patrick Agyemang.
The talented forward secured promotion to the English Premier League with London based side, Queens Park Rangers.
Prior to this, Agyemang had spent his career within the English Football League famously playing for sides such as Wimbledon, where he played over 120 league games, and Preston North End who he signed for in 2004 for a reported fee of £350,000.
Being part of Neil Warnock’s Championship winning side showed just how far the forward had come since his time on loan at Brentford during the 1999/2000 season, a loan deal where he felt he, “didn’t learn much.”
The 2011/12 season saw QPR sign a number of high profile players such as Bobby Zamora, DJ Campbell and former Liverpool forward, Djibril Cissé. This ultimately meant that Agyemang’s level of first team football reduced.
The striker was shipped out on loan on three occasions in a bid to earn his place in the R’s first team.
During his time on loan at Stevenage, Agyemang started to improve his fitness and narrowly missed out on a place in the League One Play-Off Final as the side lost to Sheffield United in the Semi-Final.
Agyemang continued to train with Stevenage during their 2012/13 pre-season before going on trial with South African Premier Soccer League side, Bidvest Wits.
The striker returned to England and signed for Stevenage on a free transfer.
Following a short period of time with The Boro, Agyemang signed for Portsmouth on an initial one-month loan. The Ghanaian scored his first goal for Pompey as they ended a run of 23-games without three points. This was rewarded with an extension to his loan deal, allowing the forward to stay at the club until March 2013.
Agyemang signed for Portsmouth permanently at the start of the 2013/14 season. After a loan spell with Dagenham & Redbridge in 2015 the former QPR star departed Fratton Park.
Having left the professional game, Agyemang is now working as a nutrition coach for Herbalife as he explains to ElWriteBack.
You starting your career at Wimbledon, the club who dissolved in 2004. What was it like being part of such a historic club in English football?
I started when I left school at 16. I had a choice to go to Wimbledon or Charlton but at the time it seemed that Wimbledon were bringing a lot of the youth players through. They had Jason Euell, Carl Cort and a few other players coming through, so I thought why not, it might be a good club for me. Going there I met a lot of friends, there was the Crazy Gang there, you had Robbie Earle and Vinnie Jones, and a lot of household names at the time. It was good to be a part of the club.
Wimbledon were portrayed as one of the hard teams, if you went there you had to be strong to get a result. It was really good to be a part of it and a good experience for me.
When the club dissolved in 2004 what was it like for you as a player, especially as this is something not every professional will experience during their career?
It was odd for me because it was the first professional team I was at. I started there when I was 16, so I learnt my trade there and made some great friends, some I am still friends with now. It was almost like, these friends weren’t just my friends, they were like brothers to me. We travelled together, played together and stayed away together, we did everything together.
We were playing first team football, earning good money, so I decided to buy a new car, a convertible BMW, I also brought my first apartment and had bills to pay so at the time when the club were going into administration, we weren’t getting paid for two, three or even four months. I couldn’t afford to not get paid because I had things to pay for.
It was sad that I had to leave and that was the only reason why I left. Gillingham made the best offer, but to be honest I didn’t want to go there because I loved it at Wimbledon. I had to make a choice to move on, this was the same with a lot of people there.
You played for Wimbledon between 1998 and 2004. Would you say this is where you enjoyed your football the most?
Yeah probably. We all came up together and considered each other as brothers, so it was good to play with those guys in the first team, enjoying our football. We didn’t have the equipment or the manager at the time, but I don’t think that any manager could have dealt with what was going on at the time.
We were all inexperienced so it was new to us, if we had a more experienced manager then I am sure we could have achieved something at Wimbledon.
After a short spell with Gillingham in 2004 you joined Preston North End for a reported fee of £350,000. How did you successfully deal with living up to the pressure placed upon you through the price Preston had paid for your services?
I didn’t really think about the figure; it was one of those things. At the time, I wasn’t happy at Gillingham, and I wasn’t happy to even be there in the first place.
I left Wimbledon as top goal scorer, and then went to Gillingham where I ended up as their top goal scorer. I played against Wimbledon and scored the winning goal which was difficult, it hurt because I was having to celebrate with the other team.
I went to Preston and had my first son, he was born on a Tuesday, I had the day off on the Wednesday and then I had to train on the Thursday.
I drove up to Preston the following day where I stayed there for two nights, followed by a trip back at the weekend.
It was a hard time for me, because I was literally spending four and a half hours coming back and forth between London and Preston. So it was hard to live up to the price tag and to do well.
I think I did well during the first year as we got to the Play-Off Final but we were then unlucky against West Ham. I was trying to balance my family life and my football life whilst trying to stay fit.
In January 2008 you were linked with QPR and Charlton. Ultimately you joined QPR where you made your debut against Chelsea in the FA Cup. What was this like having been at the club for just two days?
It was good, that year and pre-season I decided: “I’m going to do well and get a move.”
I did well and a few clubs were after me but it was manly between Charlton and QPR. I spoke to Alan Pardew, who had previously wanted me, he was keen to get me down there, but there was this thing about QPR which was similar to what happened to Chelsea. The millionaires had come in and they had started buying lots of players whilst also refurbishing everything. They were like the Chelsea of the Championship, it was something I wanted to be a part of and I decided to join them instead of Charlton.
I played my first game against Chelsea, John Terry and Ashley Cole were playing. To be there in that stadium was an amazing feeling. We did well in that game and only lost 1-0, we were unlucky not to win the game.
Being back in London was like a fresh start. I felt like I was back home and I was happy. I think this was shown in my form when I came back.
You had a successful start to your time at Loftus Road after scoring against Sheffield United. How different was the standard of football at QPR compared to that of your previous teams?
There was a lot more expectation. When there’s millions of pounds being pumped into the club there’s an expectation to get promoted straight away. We played good football but there was a little bit too much to do.
One manager goes and then another manager comes in, who brings in his own players so the club was never settled. Being one of the top strikers there, when another manager comes in I went down the pecking order. It was completely changing all of the time which was hard to get used to.
With footballers people don’t realise that they are normal people who suffer in confidence, especially with different managers coming in, who aren’t picking you. It was hard to deal with but that’s why they get good money because they have to deal with difficult situations like that.
You played with a number of high quality forwards whilst at QPR. What was it like to train with such high quality players?
I was only with Jay Bothroyd for a year but he was a good player with a good left foot. He would try hard in training and he was a winner. Sometimes I felt he was a little bit soft and I felt he could do a lot more but I guess we could have all done a lot more. We just didn’t do it, with different managers coming in, picking different players, it affects everyone in different ways.
DJ Campbell was a good player, he was very sharp with a good attitude. He was always willing to work hard.
I thought we did well at QPR but with a new manager coming in it was the same story as he was playing a little bit and then he wasn’t.
You spent a number of spells out on loan whilst playing for QPR. How different were these loan spells to the time you spent at Brentford whilst playing for Wimbledon?
When I went to Brentford, it was my first time out on loan. When I first got there I was really nervous and I thought I was under pressure and that I had to perform.
I thought I did well, I didn’t score but I put in some great performances and I got a lot of assists there.
I just felt that I didn’t learn much there, it was almost like they said “go and do what you want.” I didn’t feel like I was learning or progressing that much.
I got a lot of confidence through being there though, it got me ready for when I made my full debut with Wimbledon.
In comparison to going on loan to other teams, I think that when I went to Bristol City I wasn’t playing much at QPR, and I needed a fresh start to get my confidence back.
We played our first game against Cardiff City, I started off well playing up front with Nicky Maynard, we linked up well for the first 15 or 20 minutes. At the end of the game we were losing 6-0, so I was going from QPR who were losing to another team who were losing. My head was saying: “here we go again.”
Sometimes you can go on loan and be on fire but with a team who are struggling it is hard to make an impact. That’s what was happening, I was going to teams who were struggling, which wasn’t really helping me to bring up my confidence. It was killing my confidence as I wasn’t getting anything out of it.
When I went to Stevenage, the team started getting confidence which led us to the Play-Offs, which we got to the semi-finals.
The loan to Portsmouth was also good, they hadn’t won in 23 games. I went there and did really well, I scored the goal which got them a win after 23 games. After that I signed there and had one of my best spells in football.
They had a great crowd and fan base alongside good players. It was a good time for me, it was a shame that I didn’t play as much towards the end but another manager came in who wanted to play with his own players. That’s how football goes, I was ready for that because I had already experienced it during my career.
What was promotion to the Premier League like and has this been the highlight of your career?
Definitely, I played for Ghana as well which was also one of my highlights, I scored on my debut but I had to come off at half time because I was being kicked all over the place which lead to me getting injured. I also got ill because I didn’t have the injections needed. I wanted to go home but playing in front of around 80,000 people and getting to the Premiership was a great experience.
I had played in the Championship for so many years, so it felt like I had been given a second chance to do well and play in the Premiership. I didn’t get enough time but I guess that it is one of those things.
I wish I had have played there earlier, with Preston when we got to the Play-Off final against West Ham. Maybe if that had happened I would have been playing in the Premiership for much longer.
During your time with Stevenage it was reported that you spent time on trial with South African side, Bidvest Wits. Would you still consider a move abroad to see out your career?
I went to see what it was like, they offered me a deal so I went over there to get some experience. I trained and played two games with them and eventually the manager said he wanted to sign me.
One of the Chief Executives wanted to sign two other players who were both South African international team players. He said to the manager, “you can sign all three but you will not get another budget to use in the transfer window,” so the club chose to sign the two South African players, and not offer me a contract.
I was there for around 10 days but I had a good experience. If I didn’t have a family, It would be perfect because of the lifestyle over there. It was always hot and I enjoyed it although, I was only there for a short period of time.
If I was ever going to do it, I would make sure everything was done before I moved out there, because you never know what could happen.
With two international caps to your name for Ghana you bring a range of experience to any side. Have you considered dropping down to Non-League level?
I was going to last year but injuries got in the way, and with me not training it was hard. Mentally, after that I was done with football, with the injuries and the managers I thought, I’ve had enough now and it is probably time to call it a day.
As soon as I decided that it was like a weight off my shoulders. I had time to relax and enjoy by spending time with my family, instead of being up and down the country all the time.
I can help my son grow. Obviously he wants to be a footballer now but with my experiences I can help him out. I can only help him so much, so he will have to take that journey on his own.
What are your plans for the future?
I didn’t really have anything prepared. You realise when it comes to an end, “what am I going to do now?” So I started doing a personal training course. I did that and now I am working as a nutrition coach for Herbalife. I am building a business, working with 15 to 20 members.
I’m meeting new people and enjoying helping new people get to their target weights. They are referring me to two, three or four new people which is four more new clients who are doing exactly the same.
At the moment I am happy doing that, living without football. I never thought I’d be without football but there comes a time when you and football has to end.
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