Joel Nouble on Livingston, Chelsea and Scotland’s non-league move
An interview with Joel Nouble, by Callum McFadden for Wireless.
You came through the youth system at Chelsea alongside your brother Frank before moving to Millwall. What are your memories of your time at Chelsea as a youngster?
“I have very fond memories of my time at Chelsea. I was at the club for nine years, from the age of six until I was fourteen.
“I was also there before Roman Abramovich was taken over in 2003, so it was a different Chelsea to the club a lot of people know now.
“For example, we trained at a facility in Battersea on a large artificial grass pitch where the club tried to maximize space by having as many age groups as possible at the same time.
“Looking back, I learned a lot from my coaches and team-mates at Chelsea – some of whom had high profile careers in the game, such as Ruben Loftus Cheek, Nathanial Chalobah, Tammy Abraham, Jermaine Boga and Ola Aina.
“All went on to play football at Champions League level, so it was good to be in and around talent like that while learning and improving my own game.”
Given that you and Frank became full-time professional footballers, what memories do you have of playing football with your brother growing up?
“My brother and I have a close relationship and we were inspired to play football by our father who loves the game and played with us when we were young.
“We lived in an apartment building and Dad used to take Frank and me to a big lawn near our house to play football with us.
“That didn’t stop us from trying to play football in the house and we were trying to play in the living room or in the kitchen because we were so competitive as brothers which sometimes got us in trouble if we broke. accidentally something at home (laughs).
“We then played for a Sunday league team called Redlines FC. Frank played there first because he’s five years older than me, then I played there too when I was old enough.
“Frank being five years older has helped me learn a lot from him as he has been a professional footballer for fifteen years now, whereas I played non-league for a few years before going full time a few years ago. years.
“We still talk regularly about football and our respective journeys in the game, from growing up sharing a room together and playing in the park to becoming full-time professionals.
“It’s been quite a journey as we chased the same dream which was to play football at the highest level possible.”
You joined Livingston in the Scottish Premiership in 2021 and then immediately joined Arbroath for six months on loan in the Scottish Premiership. What was your first impression of Scottish football at Arbroath and what was it like working under Dick Campbell?
“I came to Scotland with an open mind about what to expect from the game.
“I’m a huge football fan, so I knew the Scottish Premiership and the teams and players that made it up.
“A few friends of mine had previously played for Kilmarnock and St Mirren so I had an understanding of the top flight and what it was like from the outside.
“Then I came to Livingston as a new signing and David Martindale told me I would be loaned out to Arbroath in the Scottish Championship to help my development.
“I’ll be honest and admit I wasn’t too familiar with Arbroath or the Championship as a league, but I was excited about the opportunity to join the club and experience a new league.
I’m just watching a few Arbroath clips this season. Late to the party, but Joel Nouble is so much fun to watch. pic.twitter.com/7AylBAKdgp
— Joel Sked (@sked21) September 21, 2021
“I was hungry to succeed and meeting Dick Campbell was a great experience. He is the biggest character I have worked with in football.
“My first conversation with Dick was that he told me he didn’t know much about me but that David Martindale had highly recommended me and that he believed I could do a good job for Arbroath during that I was settling in Scotland.
“He told me then that the only thing he required of me was to hold the ball and apart from that he wanted me to enjoy my football and everything else in terms of goals and assists would be a bonuses.
“The style of play in the Championship was similar to what I was used to in non-league football in England, so I was comfortable with that instruction from him.
“I was then introduced to the team at Arbroath and felt at home working with Dick and his brother Ian. They are a great double act.
“Most of the time in a dressing room before the game, things are very serious and you are given strong messages about the game to come almost as if you are going to war.
“However, Dick would prepare the team during the week and then before the game he would make everyone laugh and relax before a game with what he was telling us.
“It meant we really went out on the pitch laughing and feeling comfortable after his team’s talks.
“I am grateful to Dick and Ian for working with me during my time at Arbroath as playing there helped me settle in Scotland and prepare to come back and claim to play at Livingston.
“Arbroath fans were very supportive of me when I was at the club and they continue to be so to this day, which I still appreciate.
The loan was supposed to be a one-season loan, but I was called back to Livingston after six months. In the end, I was only at Arbroath for a short time, I have fond memories of my time at the club.
When you returned to Livingston, you became a regular in the club’s first team in the Scottish Premiership. Can you describe what the move from the Scottish Premiership to the Scottish Premiership looks like from a player’s perspective?
“Everything was more demanding in the Premiership than in the Championship.
“Premiership play is faster, you have less time on the ball, the players are stronger and you get punished every time you make a glaring mistake straight away.
“Fortunately, I learn quickly and I was able to adapt quite quickly.
“I remember my first start for Livingston at Easter Road against Hibs. The first twenty minutes were frantic and it took me the whole first half to level up and figure out how to get into the rhythm of the game.
“After this match, I felt more comfortable in the games and confident enough to be able to express myself fully.
“When you first see me you’d probably assume that I’m just holding the ball and using my physical strength, but I have more to play than that and I’m also comfortable with the ball at my feet. feet.”
This season you have added goals to your game and scored against Rangers home and away in the Scottish Premiership. What would you pick as your personal strengths at Livingston so far?
“I would choose my two goals against Rangers because they were important to me in different ways.
“I haven’t scored in my first six months at the club after returning from Arbroath. So to score against Rangers at home on matchday one of this season was a huge moment for me because I wanted add goals and assists to my game.
“The goal I scored against Rangers away at Ibrox in October was also huge for me and for the team because we drew and won a point at one of the most difficult from Scotland to play.
“Against Celtic and Rangers you don’t get the ball much given the quality of players from those two teams, so when you’re able to upset them it’s a special feeling.
“Apart from those goals and memories, I enjoy playing at Livingston regularly and helping the team as much as I can.”
Your manager at Livingston, David Martindale has been praised by many experts for doing wonders on a small budget. How has it been working alongside him?
“David has been good to me. He is a passionate manager with high standards who pushes the team forward.
“He demands hard work while encouraging us to play attacking football, so I learned a lot playing with him.
“Knowing that you have the trust of your manager is crucial for any footballer and I know I have that with David, which is a special feeling. I want to do well for him and return his trust.
“At Livingston, no one has crazy money and, we know that to be successful, hard work and teamwork are essential for us.
“We all go the extra mile for each other and it depends on the manager and his recruitment given the budget he has to work with.”
Before coming to Scottish football, you played in England at League Two level with Dagenham & Redbridge and in non-league football at clubs such as Grays Atheltic and Aldershot Town. How about your time in English football?
“I look back on my time in English football with joy and happiness as it helped me get to where I am today.
“I started as a professional at Dagenham & Redbridge before suffering a serious injury which set me back nine months and resulted in me not taking part in the League.
“From there I was determined to work as hard as I could to reach the highest level possible and clubs like Grays Athletic and Aldershot gave me the platform to make the step up to Livingston.
“Therefore, I am grateful for these experiences as they have made me stronger physically and mentally and have helped me on my way to this stage of my career.”
Finally, Joel, as a striker you have faced many defenders in your career so far. Who would you pick as the toughest direct opponents you’ve faced?
“I should choose Cameron Carter-Vickers, Conor Goldson and Carl Starfelt.
“Carter-Vickers is a fantastic defender who reads the game effectively and uses his physical strength well. With Starfelt by his side, they form a strong partnership.
“Conor Goldson is never easy to come up against and he’s very comfortable with the ball.
“It’s the three defenders I’ve faced in my career so far that stand out for sure.”