Where to start The crazy story of the performance of Ian Bishop at a poker final of the world series in Las Vegas? That can wait. That can also be the corpse that we see together during our evening. That was sobering.
But for the time being, the former West Ham and Manchester City midfielder is sitting on a graceful couch in his Florida apartment, with a stunning Union Flag wall design in the background that he remarkably painted himself. Oh, and his pet cockatoo, Charlie, is sitting on his arm.
Previously, during a few beers while the sun was setting on Palm Beach County, he shared a grizzly picture from last year’s torn lip in two. The culprit? Charlie. The wound explains the mustache and the goatee he is wearing now.
Ian Bishop opens his life on and off the field while enjoying his retirement from the game
“It’s a little hate – I love him, he hates me,” says the 54-year-old before giving the bird a kiss, albeit for the time being. “Do you want to hold him?” I’m good, thank you.
Charlie flies, laps and lands while chatting with himself. It is a magnificent sight when it is completely nerve-racking. “He’s harmless if he’s on the floor, he won’t hurt you.”
I’d rather have him in the cage. Charlie is back behind bars and his night blanket draped. There is a hole he has stuck to watch. Fortunately Charlie does not like canvas, because the artwork of Bishop is really impressive.
He makes a painting by Winston Churchill in front of a moonlit sea. “All of that comes from within,” he says, tapping his temple. “Ever since I was a kid, I just had talent for it.”
The artist in him explains a lot about Bishop the player; an elegant, bipedal playmaker who deserved recognition in England.
“I would be a football player from the age of four. I don’t even know if I was left or right footed anymore. I was the slowest player you’ve ever seen, so I had to compensate and use my brain. I played in midfield, but actually I was a No. 10 before No. 10 was in fashion. “
The former midfielder of West Ham shows off his series of paintings in his home in Miami
Bishop was an elegant, bipedal playmaker who enjoyed two stints in Manchester City
Bishop was – and is – a free spirit and a great company with it. His characteristic long hair and chic fedora, decorated with one of Charlie’s feathers, captures the man and the maverick.
We retreat to the bar that he built right next to the living room. It feels like an old London pub. He has a clear nostalgia for England, the country he left behind to come here after a successful period with Miami Fusion in MLS.
“See this,” he says, picking up a bronze football trophy. “Evening Standard, prize for best player in London. Better than Gazza. For a month…’
Is that still a great achievement? “Yes, but I was nine years old!”
As nice as this is, Bishop does not seem to be one for a quiet night in. “Fancy town?” He asks. Absolutely. Let’s go. He drives the idea of bringing Charlie, who would no doubt be a great conversation and a source of protection, but decides against it. Probably the best.
We catch a lift to Delray Beach in a Mini Cabriolet, from top to bottom, music up. The housemartins hit Happy Hour is played and Bishop’s Scouse melody blends seamlessly with colleague Merseysider and singer Paul Heaton to bring the song into the warm Atlantic air. “What a good place to be …”
They are right. Only then will we see the body bag. A fatal accident due to a traffic accident is brought in an ambulance. Cooling, Bishop had previously told me how dangerous the roads in these parts are.
Bishop finally found his feet in Upton Park, where he enjoyed nine years at West Ham
He spouts for a kiss with his pet cockatoo, Charlie, during his interview with Sportsmail
That’s why his Harley-Davidson has parked in the last 18 months. We lower the music and drive on, arriving in The Avenue, a neon-lit strip of open-air bars. It’s Friday and live bands play at every other location.
“Are you the singer?” A lady asks Bishop during a break in the performance. It is a completely plausible investigation and an investigation that we maintain naughty. After all, it was unlikely that she had embraced stories about the Boleyn Ground.
Another young partygoer tells us that rapper Vanilla Ice – known from the 1990s – is playing next door. Really? It is true, there he is, on the microphone on a full dance floor.
“I met him,” Bishop announces. “My mate was cleaning the windows and I shook his hand once, we did his place. Nice guy. ‘Window washer. Artist. Soccer player. Oh yes, and also a poker star. The story of Bishop can definitely be best told about a beer.
It was in 2006 that Bishop was at a poker table in the MGM Grand just 40 minutes from the World Series main event of Party Poker, with a decision that would make or break his week in Las Vegas.
Two were in his hand. The flop (cards for all players) were three, four, seven. He now had three four, a hand that was neat enough. He stayed inside. That was when a female opponent went “all in”. Fourteen years later, when we think from the Burt & Max’s drink terrace in Delray Marketplace, his bewilderment lingers.
“I think,” Why did she do that? She must have hit the nuts – five, six. Or is she bluffing? “I had the chance to win enough to go straight to day two. So what do you do?
Gamble? “That’s what I did.”
What did she have? “Five, six fucking …”
His characteristic long hair and chic fedora captures the man and the maverick that is Bishop
The 54-year-old father of three now lives in Florida, but would be open to a return to the UK
Bishop missed four more on the next two community cards and was ready.
“I had won 10 consecutive tables of 10 players to get there. I had waited three months and it was a five-hour flight. And I go home after 40 minutes – I didn’t even get to rest! “
He returned to Florida that night. However, the next morning he went to another tournament and won £ 30,000. “Maybe it was meant to be,” he laughs.
The father of three nowadays plays little poker and instead varies his time between the golf course, coaching of football and media work. He would even be open to a return to the UK as an opportunity to present himself.
He admits, however, that he needed the thrill of the poker table after his 21-year career.
“It was the only thing that gave me a similar buzz as for 40,000 run out. It was not despair, as it is for some. Don’t get me wrong, losing was like losing a footy match.
‘But you have to learn that it can go against you in a second. I learned to do that – the same with a beer, partying, gambling on the horses. I know when to stop. I have never let anything grab hold of me. “
He certainly didn’t let Carlos Valderrama catch him during a notorious scrap with the Colombian star, who played in MLS for Tampa Bay Mutiny.
Bishop (right) made the move to the United States in 2001 to play for the Miami Fusion
“First of all great haircut, great player. But we (Miami) were 4-0 late in Tampa and I had run the show. The ball came out of the sky and I caught it with my a ** e. I sat on it. It was instinct.
“I saw him running towards me, but before he got there, I dropped a small side pass. He just kept coming. He yells at me in Spanish. I laughed, “Don’t know what you’re saying, mate.” I know I’m wrong, but it’s funny. We were in each other’s faces, and as close as you can get with his wig.
“That was when he spit in my face and was sent away. I was furious. You do not do that. “I am going into their dressing room, I will fuck him”. Along the way my partner pulled me: “Listen, he’s a Colombian and he lives in Miami.” I get it. I let it go. I appreciated my life. “
He even loved life. “We had two sponsors in Miami – Budweiser and Hooters. We walked to Hooters girls and came back in a Budweiser crate! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. “
This was all far from Carlisle United, where Bishop settled in the mid-1980s before going to Harry Redknapp’s Bournemouth and a brief first spell in Manchester City in 1989.
Bishop (left) reveals that he enjoyed playing alongside John Moncur (right) during his West Ham days
And then West Ham. “Those nine years were great. I found home. Their style of football, Upton Park, the fans, play together with John Moncur. What a player.
“We were going to take a pint and tell each other that we were the best we had ever played with. Everyone else said we couldn’t play together, too much of each other. They would say that you need a ball winner. We would say, “Why do you have to win it if you don’t give it away in the first place?”
In West Ham, however, there was also a period in Bishop’s life that is not so easy to explore. “You’re going to ask about the rumors, don’t you?” He says. I can’t, I explain.
It was in 1991 that best friend and teammate Trevor Morley was stabbed by his wife. He almost died. Malicious gossip spreads under the motive that Morley and Bishop had a relationship. It wasn’t true. That did not stop the rough terrace.
Gossip spreading the motive that Trevor Morley (R) and Bishop (C) had a relationship
“That’s why I was abused for 10 years and I had a wife and three children. I got through it. The worst thing for me was that it really affected Trevor. This was my friend, on his deathbed, and suddenly these ridiculous lies appear and you lose control. “
Bishop had won an English B-cap and was tipped for senior honors.
“I really believe that this all affected my chances in England. I believe I was good enough, I’ll be honest. “
Then there is regret. Anger even. But, as always with Bishop, humor too.
“Trev stayed with me and my wife during his recovery. As a joke, when my wife went downstairs in the morning to make the tea, he jumped into bed with me and we would read the newspapers.
“We are sitting there one morning and the window cleaner appears! He saw the funny side, I hope. “
Bishop (right) scored in the ‘Maine Road Massacre’, the 5-1 victory over Manchester United in 1989
Sports emails Craig Hope (right) poses with Bishop (left) in front of the Union Jack wall
Bishop left West Ham a club legend in 1998, but gave a testimony to drop two divisions and play his role in the rebirth of Manchester City, for which he played an important role in back-to-back promotions to the Premier League.
“I was already a cult hero in City because I had scored in the” Maine Road Massacre “, the 5-1 win over United in 1989. But I had not finished yet. To go back and play my role in that period, it was special. “
Miami followed City and then, at the age of 39, a final battle with Shell Shockers in New Orleans. “What a place, but I had to be from New Orleans. Imagine the best Christmas parties ever, and we had that every day for four months. They even had daiquiri drive-throughs!
“I thought I’d never stop playing football, but I thought I’d beat Stanley Matthews and play forever.”
Yet there will always be something about the entertainer about Bishop. Spend a night at his Florida company and you will understand why.