At 26-years-old, Leicester City striker, David Nugent, has already packed a lot into his career. A onetime England international, with Premier League experience and an FA Cup winner’s medal in his back pocket, the hard-working striker has tasted plenty of the highs that football has to offer. But there have also been frustrating times, particularly during his spell with Portsmouth when the likeable Liverpudlian admits that he lost his love for the game.
Since signing for the Foxes in the summer, the smile is back on Nugent’s face as his goals, workrate and dynamism have made him a firm fans’ favourite and a vital part of the first team picture at King Power Stadium.
Nugent revealed how much he’s relishing playing for the Foxes despite some disappointing results, and remains determined to fire himself and Leicester City back to the big time.
“I’m enjoying my football again. I’ve been playing very well under Nigel Pearson, I’ve hit double figures and hopefully I can get a few more between now and the end of the season, and we can get into the play-offs.
“I can’t keep making excuses. We’ve had time to gel and we’re playing well, it’s just at times the results haven’t gone for us. Maybe the expectation was a bit too high at the start of the season and that sometimes plays on your mind.”
Despite a relatively disappointing season for the club, Nugent sees his move to Leicester City as a step up.
“Leicester are a massive club that played in the Premier League for a long while, won cups and had some decent managers. There’s a lot of potential but I think we’re underachieving in the league. We need to string a couple of results together to put a threat on the teams above us.”
After being released by Liverpool as a 14-year-old, David had to be patient for his return to the big time.
“When you’re a kid you just want to play football. I only thought about making it when I was a first year scholar at Bury, training with the first Nugent 02 Back To The Big Timeteam. I made my debut as a 16-year-old that season and signed my first deal at 17, and that’s when I knew I could make it.”
After four seasons in League Two, Nugent moved to Preston North End where he received a life-changing call-up to the England squad.
“Steve McClaren came to watch us against Ipswich at home and I had a massive stinker, so I don’t know why he picked me! My family had Sky and ITV round doing interviews and it was pretty odd, but that’s what happens when you hit the big time.
“It was just mad getting a taxi to the hotel, meeting John Terry at the front door and him showing me around; where my room was and where the boot and kit rooms were. It really settled me in so I thank him for that. I managed to score with my first touch and playing for my country is one of the best things to have happened to me. I’m not even thinking about getting called up again, I’m just concentrating on my club form. If it doesn’t happen then at least I’ve had my one cap.”
Nugent’s journey to the big time continued in 2007 when he made it to the Premier League with Portsmouth, but despite claiming an FA Cup winners medal, things weren’t always rosy at Fratton Park, particularly at the beginning of his Pompey career.
“I was a nobody really. I wasn’t playing games, I was on the bench and fell out with managers. It was important to get that love back for the game when I did well at Burnley in the Premier League. When you’re not playing you’re demoralised and don’t want to go to training, but when you’re playing, you’re waking up excited, looking forward to training and the games.
“In 2008 I played pretty much every game in the FA Cup because Jermain Defoe was cup-tied and I scored the winner against Ipswich in the third round. It was great playing in the semi and coming on for the last 25 minutes in the final, and I felt a big part of that FA Cup winning side.”
Since ending his four-year association with Portsmouth in the summer, things have clearly gone well for �?Nuge’ on the pitch at Leicester City and he’s also settled well off the field.
“I’ve moved locally, about ten minutes from the training ground, so it’s perfect. I’m settled in with my girlfriend and my dog and we’re all happy. I’ve been to the Highcross and gone for food, been to the cinema and the casino. I’ve also taken the dog up to Bradgate Park a couple of times to let him run riot, so it’s nice to get out and see a bit of Leicestershire.”
So what does the future hold for Nugent and the Foxes?
“The aim is to get in the Premier League. If it doesn’t happen this year, then we’ll damn well make sure it happens next year. I’m here for three years and I want to get to the Premier League with Leicester. It’s a great club with a great fan base and I’m really looking forward to the next few years.”
If Leicester City continue to improve under Nigel Pearson there should be plenty to look forward to in the next few years.