Age: 29 years old.
Current Club: Carmarthen Town AFC.
Previous clubs: Hereford, Cheltenham, Swansea City, Haverfordwest County, Neath and Bangor City.
Did you know?: When he’s not blocking shots, Lee is a personal trainer.
VETERAN Welsh Premier League goalkeeper Idzi has been playing in Wales’ premier division since 2007-08, when he was at Haverfordwest County.
Whilst at the club, he was named the Welsh Premier League’s young player of the season for 2008/9 and also voted into the team of the season by the league’s managers.
He was then briefly at Neath, before enjoying a successful spell at Bangor City, where he became something of a fans favourite for his performances between the sticks. Since 2014-15, he’s played for Carmarthen Town and has once again managed to cement down a place in the first team and claim the number one jersey as his own.
With over 300 Welsh Prem appearances to his name, there’s no doubting that the shot stopper will go down in the League’s history books as one of the best players to have graced the league when we take a look back in a couple of years.
Cool, calm and collected, he’s everything you’d need in a goalkeeper and at 29 years old, it seems as though he’s got a few years left in him yet.
Here, Lee answers some of the questions pressing on AFEFootballNews’ mind …
AFE: What made you want to become a footballer and who was your hero when growing up?
LI: I started playing when I was about eight and back then I was an outfielder.
One tournament, my club didn’t have a goalkeeper and so I went in net and had ‘Player of the Tournament’. A Swansea City scout then picked me and I went onto play in goal for the Swans until I was 15.
As for my hero growing up, I’d say Peter Schmeichel was probably the one who inspired me to want to keep playing in goal.
AFE: You’ve had quite the career Lee, was it hard getting to the Welsh Prem?
LI: At times it has been yes.
I was at Hereford first then Cheltenham for two years. Then I played back in Swansea’s reserves & Merthyr. To be honest, I got to the age of 19 and I struggled to get a club.
Three days before my first Welsh Prem debut I signed for a local side call Penydarren, who weren’t even in the Welsh Leagues. Luckily, they didn’t put the forms in straight away and two days before their season started Havefordwest signed me when there keeper left last minute.
Since then of course, the rest is history and I’m now about to head into my 11th season of playing in the Welsh Premier League.
AFE: I read somewhere that you’re a former Wales under 23 player, which if those players in the squad went on to be most famous/successful?
LI: Yes, I played at u23 level over 10 times.
I suppose it’s hard to say which one of us went on to be the most successful really. However, we were the only semi-pro set the one year and we played Portugal in March. Eight members of that squad went on to play in the full team in the World Cup that summer.
AFE: Who’s the best manager you’ve played under and why?
IL: I’ll go with, man manager Derek Brazil at Haverfordwest because I had a great relationship with him. He was a very relaxed character to the point where it felt like he was one of the boys. We got on really well together and he took a chance in a young 19 year old me that he’d never met before and so I did my best to repay that faith.
My current manager Mark Aizlewood is the best football brain I’ve played under. Him and Derek are complete opposites in terms of tactics and man management but they were definitely two of the greatest.
Along side them, I’d say that Nev Powell was another one who I wanted to play for and respected a lot also whilst I was at Bangor. I’m thankful to have played under him.
AFE: What’s the best match you ever played in?
LI: Oh, that’s a tough question that mate, because there’s been a lot over the years.
At Bangor we played Prestatyn in the last game at Farrar road in December 2011. It was 5-3 to us in the end in what was a great game to be a part of in front of a huge crowd.
I also remember the day when we scored last minute to beat TNS in the Welsh Cup semi-final too, that was a great game.
AFE: Did you enjoy your three year spell at Bangor and was it hard for you leaving the club?
They were the best club and fans I’ve played for. It was a very difficult decision to leave the club and I found it very hard.
On reflection I think I left about the right time. I do now believe that it’s a very different club to the one I loved playing for.
AFE: Finally… what are this seasons aims for both yourself and Carmarthen?
IL: We have a difficult start because we have nine away games due to the pitch being re-done.
I think come start of December, to still be in a position where we can get top 6 again would be great. Like every season we’ll go in with the smallest squad and smaller budget. But we have an honest group who work for each other. We will concentrate greatly on getting a place in the top six and getting through that first phase.
From my point of view, I’d like to do better than I did last season and possibly win some silver through the League Cup, Welsh cup or play offs.
Cheers for chatting Lee and all the best to both you and the Carmarthen squad in your 2017/18 WPL Campaign!