If you ask anyone in England to describe Lee Cattermole to you, they would probably comment on how the now former Sunderland midfielder used to go around shouting at everyone and performing leg crunching tackles while picking up red cards like other people pick up stamps.
However, there’s far more to the man than that, as he revealed in an interview with Voetbal International in Holland, where he currently resides after making the switch to VVV Venlo in the summer.
He said: “Like everyone else, I have made mistakes. I did stupid things but nothing terrible or unforgivable. As a football player, I am someone who works hard and is competitive. In my younger years, I could sometimes feel frustrated when I lost.
“That time is now behind me. I’m much more balanced, as a footballer and as a person. I hope to further develop both sides here in the Netherlands”.
Not wanting to spend another season in League One, the midfielder reached an agreement with Sunderland to be allowed to move on, and his curiosity about Dutch football led him there.
On top of that, he wanted to get away from the Sunderland bubble, where he had spent the last 10 years of his life.
As VI explain, he now lives in an apartment in an old monastery on the Meuse river, just outside Venlo, where his wife will move in with him next month.
He explained: “She is a corporate lawyer, but has put her own ambitions to one side to support me in my foreign adventure. I appreciate that. She will get a better man in return. I learn so much here, I have to solve a lot myself.
“In England, I always had an army around me who helped me with everything. I only had to pick up the phone or what I wanted was arranged for me. My life was very clear and easy. I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted to test myself. Now I’m somewhere where I don’t speak the language”.
A brave decision from a man who could have probably stayed and retired at Sunderland if he wanted to, but his desire for something new led him outside of his comfort zone.
Even his wages took a considerable hit, but he just doesn’t care.
He concluded: “I indicated that I didn’t want [money] to prevent me from playing for VVV. That’s taken care of. It’s fine this way. It’s better to learn a lot and earn less than to fill your pockets without being able to develop. That won’t make you happy”.