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Richard Lee - Graduation to success

When Brentford's Richard Lee found himself left on the sidelines, he decided to do something about it. He went on a psychological journey that saw him claim and hold on to his place as the League One club's first choice goalkeeper. He was keen to spread the word about how he did it, so he wrote a book - Graduation.

Lee talked to Total Football's editor Mark Roach about his inspiration for the book, how he went about securing a place in the Brentford starting 11 and his aims for the future.

What inspired you to write the book?

It happened by accident in many respects. I made the decision during the heat wave in April 2011, it initially began as me writing my blog of the season which I had intended to put on my personal website - Within two days of writing the blog I had written in excess of 10,000 words and realised I was only 10 games into the season! It was then that it really occurred to me how unique the season was and how the events that had unfolded made a perfect platford for not only writing a really interesting story but also combining much of the knowledge on psychology / NLP that I had learned.

How difficult was it to deal with not being a first choice goalkeeper and dropping down the pecking order?

It was tough. After making the tough decision to leave Watford in search of regular football it was certainly a bruise to the ego! Initially I was very unhappy with the way in which I felt I had been harshly treated but then realised I had been left with a choice - sit around and blame the world for the position I found myself in, or make the decision to fight and try and dig myself out of the hole, thankfully I decided to fight.

How did you go about setting yourself the challenge of getting back to being first choice?

I knew I needed to change my approach so the biggest chance I made was to delve into the world of Hypnotherapy. I had tried it previously without much effect but this time round I met with a guy in Watford called Dave Sabat who was very confident he could help change my fortunes. The idea behind me doing hypnotherapy was to try and really instill the psychological information I was learning deep into the unconscious and in doing so help reduce my anxiety and aid performance. It's a decision I certainly don't regret and have found myself visiting him on a regular basis ever since.

What action did you take towards achieving that goal?

As luck would have it I would be selected for our cup games due to the other keeper we had on loan being cup tied, this then gave me the opportunity to show my worth, which thankfully I was able to do in several high drama ties against Hull City, Everton and Birmingham namely.

What are your future goals?

I speak about goals in great depth in the book and now have many goals in many different areas. In regards to football it is still very much a dream of mine to play at Wembley and help Brentford into the Championship. Away from football I intend to keep learning more about psychology and how it can help performance if utilised, in doing this I have no doubt it will in turn continue to have a positive effect on both my football and my business interests.

How did you become a goalkeeper in the first place?

The classic tale of a team needing a goalkeeper so I put myself forward to do the job! I was 8 at the time and within a few years I had been recommended for a trial at Watford who I then represented for 17 years.

What have been the high points - and low points - of your career so far?

I've had many of both! Highs include captaining both Watford and Brentford, playing in an FA Cup semi final, representing England at U21 level and being successful in many a penalty shoot out over my career! Lows include an array of injuries, many of which were very serious, losing in a play off semi final with Watford and being dropped on 3 occasions.

How important is it to be liked by the club's fans - and how do you deal with criticism from fans?

It is of course nice to be liked however this isn't necessarily something you can control. I deem myself fortunate to have had a good relationship with both Watford and Brentford fans but my philosophy is quite simple, all you can do is give your very best at all times then whatever the outcome is you'll have no regrets and you deserve all success that comes your way.

How does making a great save - and making a mistake - affect you?

Nowadays it doesn't affect me much either way, when I was younger it had a huge impact on me and it was a problem, something I speak of in the book. An inconsistent player who is affected by both highs and lows is a liability for a team and generally inconsistency will start in the mind. In an ideal world each player would play every game brimming with confidence and excited with what lies ahead, using many of the techniques I speak of in the book this allows this idealistic vision to become attainable. Confidence is an internal creation and once you have a grasp on how to guide your thoughts in such a way to instill confidence in yourself then you instantly gain an edge over your opposition. As football evolves I truly believe this knowledge will be widespread in football and inconsistency will become a thing of the past.

What advice would you give to anyone trying to make it as a first choice player?

Firstly, read my book! There are many key points to making it to the top but above all else enjoyment is key for me. Enjoy whatever you are doing and you'll have the desire to improve at that pursuit and in turn maximise your potential.

Read Total Football's review of Richard's book:

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