UTD Unscripted long read about late Man United goalkeeper Les Sealey

Maybe 10 days earlier, I’d had the news that my football career had been finished by a shoulder injury, so it wasn’t a great time. I’d been a goalkeeper with West Ham. Actually, at the time, losing my dad probably helped me to realise that football didn’t matter. The trauma I went through in that period wasn’t great and it took me a long time to get back on track.

Now, I’m able to remember the good things about my dad.

He was a good dad. Quite strict, but very straight, didn’t really like going out, wasn’t a big socialiser. He was a bit different, really – quieter than people will presume, especially if they saw him shouting on the pitch. He was always up for a laugh, always up for playing football, going down the park, taking me and my brother to get sweets, he was what I consider to be a good dad. 

I don’t think he was that bothered by the fame that came with being a United player. He never went to film premieres, wouldn’t do magazines, wouldn’t do newspaper interviews, hardly did anything like that. He’d rather come home, get away from it, have a cup of a tea or a coffee, sit on the sofa and watch telly. He used to like tinkering with cars – there was always a car out front that he was taking apart, or he’d be washing it. If he wasn’t on the sofa watching telly or doing something with his kids then he was doing something with his car.

Growing up with a dad that plays football, you don’t realise how lucky you are. He was always at home. I finished school at three o’clock, came home and my dad was indoors. I wasn’t used to him coming home at seven or later, like other kids. That way I probably spent a lot more time with my dad than most people growing up.

Now, I’m a father to three kids myself and I like to think some of my dad’s traits come out in my parenting. When something happens, I do often wonder what my dad would think of it. No-one gets it right all the time, and one thing he did always instilled into me is always apologise if you’re in the wrong. I try to live by that, if I’m in the wrong, I say sorry, and move forward and try to pass that to the kids. I just try to be the best dad I can be.

Life is busy now with various things I’ve got going on around me. I’ve always got a lot going on and I’m always busy, but I’ve always got time for my family. And I’m never, ever too busy to chat about my dad.

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