July 6, 2008

Ex-City Player Stars in TV Show

Former Stoke trainee Neil MacKenzie is expecting some light- hearted abuse from close friend Liam Lawrence following his recent success on Channel 4 series Countdown.

The 32-year-old Notts County midfielder became friends with Lawrence during their time at Mansfield, and is expecting to hear from the Potters midfielder after becoming the first professional footballer to appear on the long-running show.

"He'll no doubt give me some stick the next time we meet up," said MacKenzie.

"I can't really imagine Liam watching Countdown to be honest, although I'm sure he's heard about my appearance and will want to have a joke about it."

MacKenzie has so far notched up an impressive four victories in the Countdown chair, and says he has thoroughly enjoyed his time with Carol Vorderman and Co.

He admits he was slightly worried about embarrassing himself on his first appearance, but quickly settled into his new surroundings.

"I was quietly confident before I went on the show, and once I got through the first episode I started to improve," he said.

"The adrenaline does get running, but Des O'Connor (the show's presenter) is great at making you relax, so the nerves went after about five minutes of the first show.

"I'm sure it's surprised a few people as I'm known as a bit of a joker in the dressing room, but I've always seemed to have a knack for this, so I thought I'd give it a go."

Mackenzie made 15 league starts and 26 substitute appearances for Stoke, and scored his only goal for the club in a 2-1 First Division victory over Oxford in February 1997.

He went on to join Cambridge, and also enjoyed spells at the likes of Kidderminster, Mansfield and Scunthorpe before joining current club County last summer.

(c) 2008 Sentinel, The (Stoke-on-Trent UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.