Darren Bent’s been all over the headlines lately. From Harry Redknapp’s keen interest in bringing him over to Queens Park Rangers to Paul Lambert’s inability to explain exactly why he doesn’t even warrant a spot on the Aston Villa bench, the prolific striker has been a very hot topic for a player who hasn’t seen much action on the pitch of late.
So knowing as much, I felt it was as good of a time as any to roll out an interview I did with Bent about six months ago. The interview never ran on the site I was working on at the time, but most of what Bent discussed is still relevant today, especially the stuff about why he’s so good at finding spaces between defenders (I personally think Bent is one of the best in the game at finding gaps to fill in the attacking third).
Here’s the transcript in full. Enjoy. And thanks to New Era for granting access to Bent.
Kim: You are someone who’s very adept at finding space between defenders. How did you learn this skill?
Bent: The art of finding space was instilled in me from a very young age, be it through my dad or the coaching I received when I was younger. It is just instinctive now to work hard to create that extra yard which makes all the difference at the top level.
Kim: Some of the great strikers cite visualization as the key to their success, saying that they’re able to see a play unfold two or three passes before it does. Others say they don’t think of anything, and simply react. What type of a striker are you?
Bent: I would like to think I’m a bit of both in that it’s important to look to gamble as a centre forward. You want to think ahead of situations that may occur and be in a position to react when they do. Of course the speed of the modern game means that being reactive to situations is as important as visualizing what may happen.
Kim: Who is the toughest defender you’ve ever faced?
Bent: I would have to say either Rio Ferdinand at Manchester United or Ledley King at Tottenham Hotspur, not only because they are the most aggressive but because they both have an outstanding ability to read the game and really keep you on your toes.
Kim: Who is the greatest player you’ve ever played next to?
Bent: Luka Modric at Tottenham Hotspur was an exceptional footballer. He had the ability to see things that no-one else could and he was extremely creative which made my job that little bit easier linking up with him.
Kim: Who was your hero growing up?
Bent: Growing up Ian Wright was my big hero. In the later years, it was more Thierry Henry. Michael Jordan and Mohammed Ali are also my heroes.
Kim: Who is the one player that you would love to line up next to?
Bent: I would love to line up next to Thierry Henry who as I’ve mentioned was one of my heroes growing up. His best years are of course behind him now but in his prime he was phenomenal! His all round game was outstanding — pace, finishing ability, awareness, work-rate. He really did have everything.
Kim: If you had to play in a league outside of England, where would you like for it to be, and why?
Bent: One of the major European leagues such as La Liga or Serie A would be an interesting challenge. The atmosphere at the games always seems to be immense and combined with the technical ability of the players there, I think either of those would be good leagues to play in.
Kim: Over here in the U.S., soccer fans are quite proud of all that Clint Dempsey’s been able to accomplish in England. Have you ever spent time with him? What are your impressions of him as a player and a person?
Bent: I don’t know Clint personally, but he has had an exceptional season with Fulham. He has scored a lot of goals and his work rate is very good week-in, week-out. He is a credit to himself and his Fulham side.
Kim: Your club’s owner, Randy Lerner, is originally from Brooklyn. I believe you’re a fan of the New York Yankees; has he taken you to any games in the Bronx yet?
Bent: Not yet! He did treat me to some gifts from a few of the Cleveland Cavaliers boys which was a nice touch, but no Yankees games as yet.
Kim: How did you become a fan of the Yankees?
Bent: It was ever since I first went to watch baseball live, I absolutely fell in love with the game and the New York Yankees pedigree attracted me to them as a side.
Kim: And did your support of the Yankees help lead to your sponsorship deal with New Era?
Bent: With it being an Olympic year and the next World Cup in sight, the brand was looking for someone that had a global appeal to incorporate in the campaign and with soccer’s global appeal, I was approached as a good fit for the brand. But I’ve always been a New Era fan ever since I started wearing baseball caps as a young boy. For me, New Era are the most stylish baseball caps out there.
Kim: Have you always been a New Era fan?
Bent: I’ve always been a New Era fan ever since I started wearing baseball caps as a young boy. For me, New Era are the most stylish and the most comfortable baseball caps on the market.