CHRIS Basham achieved a lifelong ambition last night – to play alongside his childhood hero.
The 22-year-old spent his youth as a Sunderland season ticket holder chanting the name of ‘Super’ Kevin Phillips at the Stadium of Light.
The pair lined-up together during last night’s 2-0 defeat to Scottish champions Rangers in Pool’s opening pre-season friendly at Bloomfield Road.
Basham revealed: “I watched Kevin as I was growing up and it was a privilege to play alongside him. Kevin and Niall Quinn were my heroes growing up.
“In training he has been a different class, everyone’s learning off him.
“He’s 38 years old but he’s a mammoth of a man.”
Two first-half goals from Steven Davis settled a game from which the Seasiders took plenty of positives, with Basham one of the main ones.
A broken leg led to a frustrating first 12 months at Blackpool for the former Bolton man.
However, he can’t wait for the real action to start after a full pre-season.
He said: “I feel good. All the lads were happy fitness-wise and performance-wise, and I think the game went well.
“When you sign for big money you put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform.
“Last year was a bit frustrating but I still have another three years at Blackpool and I’m buzzing to be involved.
“We were typical Blackpool last night and got caught on the break for the goals, but we are going to work on that in training.
“Hopefully at Oldham on Saturday, all the players can get a bit more match-time under their belts.
“I think Rangers have played six games already and you could tell – they were that little bit sharper than us.
“We’ve only been back two weeks, so we are a lot further back in terms of fitness.
“I’d love to play them in a few weeks again, when we are up to full speed.”
Known as a bit of a utility man, Basham has seen himself play in a number of positions under manager Ian Holloway, who chose not to speak to the media after last night’s game.
But Basham believes he has found a position to suit him.
“The manager has told me that he thinks I look comfortable at right-back, and I’m glad I could show in a game that I can play there,” Basham said.
“I felt comfortable and I’m happy with my performance.
“I am adding to the list of potential positions I can play in, but I think full-back could be a main one for me this season.
“Hopefully I can get involved in the midfield too but I enjoy playing full-back.
“It allows me to get forward and I spent most of this game in the Rangers half.
“That’s what the manager told me to do as he knows I have the energy to get back when I have to.
As for the coming season, Basham is in no doubts where Blackpool should be aiming.
He said: “I think with Stephen Crainey, Matt Gilks and Ian Evatt all staying it proves that the club is going in the right direction.
“Hopefully if we can add a few more players we can give it a good push.
“The gaffer is behind us 100 per cent as he believes this club should be in the Premier League.”