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Sixty Seconds with Sam Allardyce

PICTURE: GETTY

The ex-England manager, 64, is back in the firing line as he takes part in a Celebrity Apprentice special for Comic Relief

You’ve just taken part in Comic Relief’s Celebrity Apprentice. How did you find it?

It was very tough indeed, way out of my comfort zone. Putting on a cabaret event is not my strongest asset. Food, tickets, alcohol, donations, advertising — we had to try to get everything for nothing. I got stuck into it as best I could but booking artists in 48 hours is not my forte. Yet we managed to get there in the end thanks to other people’s contacts.

Did you actually enjoy any of it, then?

We began to enjoy it once we’d pulled one or two things off — getting a few donations, the champagne, plus the tickets and costumes. What made it particularly difficult was the fact we had such a short period of time. When we finally got to the showdown in the boardroom we were all a bit shell-shocked.

Did you know any of your fellow contestants beforehand?

I didn’t know them personally but of course I knew of them. I’ve watched Omid Djalili many times on the telly, and also Russell Kane. And Rylan Clark-Neal on This Morning. We all got on OK. We had our own opinions but we didn’t really have enough time to argue. We just got on with it.

Familiar face: Karren Brady

How did you handle yourself up against Lord Sugar?

We’re not allowed to say anything about what happened in the boardroom. You’ll have to watch. Of course I’d worked with Karren Brady, who was right next to Lord Sugar.

Could you call in any favours after your time together at West Ham?

Oh no, not at all — you can’t get any advantage off her.

You’ve worked with competitive celebrities before, managing an England team for Unicef’s Soccer Aid. How did this compare?

Soccer Aid is just an absolute dream for me. I’m doing what I’m good at — managing a team, getting the right characters to go out and win. It’s about raising money for Unicef but it’s also about England versus the Rest of the World and the lads — whether they’re ex-professionals or celebrities — are mad passionate about winning. That’s a pretty easy task for me, whereas Comic Relief was taking me completely out of my comfort zone. But knowing I was doing something different while also raising money for charity again was a big experience for me.

Jungle fun: Harry Redknapp

Will you be watching Red Nose Day on the night?

We never miss the show. We’ve been watching it for years and always feel amazed by the generosity of this country. Even when our country’s in such a depressed state, people will still put their hands in their pockets and donate to those less fortunate than themselves.

Harry Redknapp won I’m A Celebrity and footballers like John Barnes and Robbie Savage have done Strictly Come Dancing. Might either of those shows appeal to you?

That’s not charity, though, is it? That’s reality TV and I’m not so sure of it. I may consider it if they ever ask me but charity’s the big motivation — offering yourself to donate and help those less fortunate. I imagine both shows would be fantastic experiences. Everyone seems to have a great amount of fun.

After leaving Everton last summer, do you see yourself getting back into management?

That’s not for me to decide. It’s for someone else to say, ‘We would like Sam Allardyce, how can we contact him?’ I’d absolutely go and speak to them and see how it went, move forward and see if it fits. But it’s not in my hands. It’s about someone wanting to give me the opportunity to make their club or country better than it is right now.

How do you now look back on your career as a player and manager?

There’s no substitute for playing — nothing ever substitutes for that for me. My job has been fulfilling and allowed me to live my ultimate dream. Too many parents forget to tell their kids to dream, and that you are capable of fulfilling those dreams if you really push yourself hard. If you go for it and really believe, and you’ve got a bit of talent, you will fulfil that dream. I got to play football at the highest level — not quite for my country but in the top division. I fulfilled my dream of being a Premier League manager and then the very best job of all: managing England. Yes, you can say it was a poisoned chalice, but no one can take that away from me. I reached the pinnacle of my career by managing England. I’ve gone through many years of great joy and after leaving school at 15 I couldn’t ask for any more than that.

Celebrity Apprentice for Comic Relief, raising money for Red Nose Day (March 15), airs as a two-part special on BBC1 tonight and tomorrow at 9pm and live and on-demand on BBC iPlayer