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McAllister considered career as golfer

Former Liverpool footballer Gary McAllister fleetingly considered a career in professional golf as a teenager.

McAllister, who played in this week's Hackers Cup golf tournament at Port Royal Golf Course, enjoyed all sports as a youth and, as a scratch golfer, represented Scotland.

However, football was always his first love, although he admits he sometimes wonders how far his golfing talent could have taken him.

“As a boy I got down to scratch pretty young and played in the British boys and Scottish boys but football was always my love,” said McAllister, who won 57 caps for Scotland.

“I don't know whether I would have been good enough, you just never know. You certainly can't do both, that's for sure and football always came first.

“I think I made the decision when I went to play in the British boys one year and realised that although I was good in my little area, these boys were playing a different game.”

Prior to his surprise move to Anfield in 2000, McAllister, a creative midfielder, played alongside ex-Bermuda striker Kyle Lightbourne at Coventry City.

It was a frustrating spell for Lightbourne who left the club a year later in 1998 after finding himself pushed down the pecking order behind Dion Dublin, Darren Huckerby and Noel Whelan.

McAllister, though, remembers Lightbourne as neat and tidy player and said it was a “lovely surprise” to catch up with his ex-team-mate who is also playing in the Hackers tournament.

“It was years ago when we played together and he looks well; I remember him as a nice footballer,” said McAllister.

“It a lovely surprise (to meet up with Kyle) because nobody had mentioned he was on the Island and I'd lost touch with him.

“If (Coventry) had managed to keep everybody we would have had a decent outfit back then with the likes of Hadji and Chippo, the two Moroccans, and a young Noel Whelan.

“Kyle played his part, though, and was at the club for a couple of years.”

During a glorious swansong to his career, McAllister won five trophies at Liverpool, proving the doubters wrong who believed manager Gerard Houllier had lost the plot by signing a 35-year-old.

“It was a nice bit of tonic at the end of my career. I was 35 and I think everyone thought Gerard Houllier had lost it,” said McAllister, the hero of one Merseyside's most memorable derbies when his injury-time free kick handed Liverpool a 3-2 win at Everton's Goodison Park in 2001.

“There's a bit of luck involved in every move and I won five trophies in my first season.

“I still watch Liverpool every now and again, but I live in Yorkshire so my old club Leeds are the nearest team to me and I go and watch them quite a bit.”

Following a premature end to Houllier's rein as Aston Villa boss in the summer, McAllister, who had been working as his assistant, has been taking a break from the game, although he hasn't ruled out a return if the “right opportunity” came along.

“I'd be telling lies if I said I was desperate to get back,” he said. “but if there was a job which represented a chance for me to instil my philosophy well, it would have to be the right opportunity.

“You need time, though, and that's a commodity you just don't get in football nowadays.”

McAllister, who is visiting Bermuda for the first time, said the natural beauty of the Island had pleasantly surprised him.

“It's my first time and it's been fantastic,” said the 46-year-old. “It's been a bit surprising as it's a wee bit different from the Caribbean. I had it down the lines of being similar to the other Caribbean Islands I've been to. It's a very idyllic and pretty place.”

(Photo by Glenn Tucker) Gary McAllister in action during the Hackers Cup at Port Royal Golf Course.

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Published November 25, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 25, 2011 at 6:17 am)

McAllister considered career as golfer

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