Paul Mariner is one of the finest strikers to ever play for Ipswich Town, scoring 96 goals in 260 appearances, winning the FA Cup and UEFA Cup in the process. Paul also played for the England national team 35 times, scoring 13 goals. In his professional career spanning for over 20 years, Paul made 555 appearances for Plymouth, Ipswich, Arsenal, Portsmouth and various teams in America and Australia, scoring 179 career goals. He was part of the greatest era under Sir Bobby Robson and brought major success to the Suffolk side before moving to the capital to play for Arsenal. He later went into management with Plymouth and MLS side Toronto FC. Dictate the Game were fortunate enough to interview Paul. we asked him about his time in Ipswich, his managerial career and if he had any regrets in his career.
Paul’s most notable spell at a club is his eight year stay in Suffolk as an Ipswich Town player, being part of the Bobby Robson era at the club, and at the time, the Suffolk side were undoubtedly one of the best club sides in European football. Therefore, our first question was about his spell at the Suffolk side.
You played at Ipswich Town FC for eight years between 1976 and 1984. You scored 96 goals in 260 appearances, what would you say your proudest moment with Ipswich was?
I had many proud moments for ITFC, FA Cup Final win in 78 then being UEFA Cup Winners in 81. I played under Sir Bobby Robson, I got to play with amazing team mates. My saddest moment was not winning the League Championship, we were good enough to win it.
Paul is currently the colour commentator in the MLS for the New England Revs, but has had two spells in management at Plymouth and MLS-side Toronto, we asked if he had any plans to go back into management.
It’s been a few years since you last managed a team, do you think you’ll ever get back into management?
I never say never in football but I doubt I will manage again.
Like many Town players during the glory days of the Suffolk side, Mariner was called up by his national side, England, 35 times, and we asked his what was his favourite goal for his country.
You scored 13 goals for England, which is your favourite and most memorable?
Playing for England, scoring v Hungary to qualify for WC82 was the best goal of all of them but the Norway goal at Wembley was also decent.
Paul spent six out of eight years under the management of the football legend Sir Bobby Robson.
You worked under great Sir Bobby Robson for the majority of your time at Portman Road, what was it like playing under a manager of his stature?
Playing for Sir Bob – he was the greatest, great coach, great tactician, a great man manager, considerate and a great man.
How was the experience of being called up by England for the first time?
It was humbling and it turned my legs to jelly.
Throughout your playing time, who was your favorite player to play aside?
All the lads I played with for club and country were amazing, they were unselfish at the right time, hard-working and we all wanted the best for each other.
As a manager, how difficult did you find that aspect of football as opposed to playing?
All the senior pros would say play as long as you can, they were right, playing is the greatest whilst managing is the most difficult job in the sport
Paul made 555 career appearances for Plymouth, Ipswich, Arsenal, Portsmouth, teams in America and Australia, scoring 179 career goals. During his latter years at the Suffolk side, he even captained the side on occasions.
If you could go back to the first day of your professional career, what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself to enjoy every minute, there is no better job.
Do you have any regrets as a player or manager?
The one regret I have is that after WC82, I should have kept up my training regime that I used prior to the tournament.
Of course, football has changed a lot in the last 30 years, the rules have changed, back in Paul’s day, goalkeepers could pick up the ball from a kick from the defenders, money in football have changed, and the way to get in football has changed, nowadays you are in an academy from a young age, but we were curious to how Paul got into football…
How did you get into professional football?
I was playing at Chorley FC in the Northern Premier League in 1971-73 and got recruited by Tony Waiters who was the Boss at Plymouth Argyle FC
During Mariner’s spell at Ipswich Town, he won the FA Cup in 1978, the UEFA Cup in 1981, finished Runners-Up in the First Division for the 80-81 and 81-82 season and was the Player of the Year in 1982-83. Paul got to work with some unbelievable team mates at Ipswich including Kevin Beattie, Mick Mills, Frans Thijssen, Arnold Muhren, just to mention a few, and not to forget, he got to work under the one of the world’s best manager ever – the only and one Sir Bobby Robson. He is undoubtedly part of Ipswich’s history forever. Dictate The Game had a great time interviewing him, and we’d like to thank Paul for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions.
You can follow Paul on Twitter at @Paul_Mariner