Matt Lockwood is a left-back best known for his nine-year spell at Leyton Orient between 1998 and 2007. Having started his career at Queens Park Rangers, he moved to the Os on a free transfer where he became an integral part of the team. Lockwood was the club's second leading scorer in the 2006/07 campaign, but he moved on to Nottingham Forest at the end of that season. However, the 33-year-old only spent one year at Forest before joining Colchester, and after loans to Barnet and Dagenham, he is now on the lookout for a new club.
Is it worrying being an out of contract player in the current climate or is that now part and parcel of a footballer's career?
A bit of both really. It is worrying because technically you're unemployed. You haven't got a club, you've got no money coming in, and when you've got a family to support, bills to pay and a mortgage to pay, I think worrying would be an understatement. Sleepless nights spring to mind. But it's one of those; it's the nature of the job. It's the first time that it has ever happened in my career, being out of contract and without anywhere to go. It's not nice.
Is it something that needs to be addressed in the modern game, as more and more players are now out of contract?
I'm not alone, there are hundreds of other people in the same boat as me and quite a few of them are friends of mine. I've been chatting to them and saying 'is your phone ringing?', because mine certainly isn't. It's not the clubs' fault, they're all struggling for money and they can't have the squads the size maybe that they used to. If the clubs are narrowing down their squads then there is always going to be a surplus amount of players. We're all in the same boat, we're all trying to earn a living, and I think it's getting harder and harder each year. There isn't any way out of it, that's just the nature of the game at the moment. The big clubs are getting bigger and the smaller clubs are unfortunately going to go out of business.
How do you approach the summer, is it just a case of sitting tight?
I haven't got an agent, I've spoken to probably seven or eight agents. I've gone to the agents and said 'this is the deal, I'm out of contract, I need a club, if you can find me a club then you'll get paid'. I don't know of that's the best way to go or not.
Do you have any idea as to the standard you are aiming at and what level you would like to play?
People say you want to play at the highest level possible, and yes you do. But obviously when you've got bills to pay you want to play at a level that pays you the money that you're looking for. I suppose because there are so many players out of contract there's going to be so much competition, so you can't go in somewhere saying 'I want this, this and this' because another player who is also out of contract will say 'I don't want that, I'm more than happy with this'. Obviously it's a case of beating off the opposition and trying to go for those jobs that are available.
Would you be willing to relocate? Do you have to accept that you need to move where the contracts are?
I've not just kept my search to commutable distance to where I live, I've not just kept my search to England. I'm literally looking globally. I've got agents here, there and everywhere looking - in Europe, America, Middle-East - you name it I'm up for going. At the end of the day, with football you've just got to go where the work is. I've been quite lucky with my career in some respects as I have not really moved around too much, but I haven't got a cub at the moment. If someone says to me 'come and play abroad', I'll go and play abroad. I don't think you can really be too fussy, it widens the net to potential employers.
Would you be prepared to go on trial to secure a new contract?
Maybe you're going to have to go on trial at places and prove you're still the best runner there is and still fit as a fiddle. You can only do that if you get given the opportunity to go and show people what you can still do. At the moment going on trial is better than sitting at home looking after my daughter. I'm confident in my ability that I'm a good player. You don't get in the team of the year four times and score goals from left-back by fluke. I'm still the same player, it annoys me that people don't think I am. In football you've always got to prove yourself. Every year you're proving yourself to someone and I've done it this far, so I'm more than happy to prove to people that I'm still very much alive and kicking.
What do you feel you would offer prospective employers? What do you feel are your best attributes?
I've never drunk, I don't smoke, I look after myself, I'm a model professional. If I was a manager and I had 22 players like me in the squad I'd be more than happy. It'd be a boring squad because I'd never go out and get drunk but you'd always know you'd be fit. People are quick to jump the age gun. It winds me up because I'm just as fit now as I was when I was 23.
Still early days in terms of teams getting their plans sorted, are you confident you will get something sorted?
It's a tough time, I don't know what's going to happen. My phone hasn't rung yet and pre-season starts soon - I don't really know what to make of it all. If you'd have asked me this question two months ago I was very confident. You only have to look at my CV and my record in my career. You would think people would like that and would want an experienced left-back. There's excuses all the time, such as 'he's a bit old, he's a bit this, he's a bit that' and it's a load of rubbish. Paul Furlong was still playing last year at 41 - age is literally a number.
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