Nick Jupp left Hampton school in 2007, as an idol to the next generation of aspiring footballers. His various contributions to life at the school included: penalty shootout heroics, winning ISFA player of the year, which is an astounding feat for a goalkeeper, and years later, returning to the school to further support and coach young goalkeepers. His professional career has seen him work alongside some of football's biggest names such as Ben Foster and Edgar Davids, yet it arguably reached its true heights in Chertsey Town’s dramatic FA Vase win in 2019, in which Jupp played a key role in inspiring his team in extra time, as a sense of nostalgia from his Hampton days. Now, with so many achievements already to his name, we reflected upon his success, and discussed what he thought his career might bring in the coming years.


Jupp’s footballing endeavours officially began from a very early age at Halliford Colts. Surprisingly, his earliest experiences did not involve him standing between the sticks, but instead outfield – that is until one week, when the goalie didn't show up. Jupp recalls,”My Dad just stuck me in goal, and it turned out I was quite good!” Having uncovered this new side to his game, he then stuck with it. Arriving at Hampton, aged 11, he still officially played outfield and was put in the U12 C team. At a fixture away to Wilson’s however, he was subbed off within 90 minutes and put into the A team, where he would then firmly hold rank for the next seven years. 


Given this relatively late alteration of positioning, Jupp never really had a goalkeeping idol when he was young. However, while he played at Watford U18s for a few years, he gained a lot from the experienced influence of Ben Foster. It was both on and off the pitch that he claimed to have developed during this phase as he said,”there was an aura about him that was different to what I had come across beforehand.” He also learned about the various aspects of being a goalkeeper – it wasn't just pulling off saves. Particularly at a higher level, it becomes the role of the GK to have a presence and to be at the heart of communication as you can always see everything that's happening. 


In accordance with his 100% victory rate in penalty shootouts over the years, Jupp said he would probably characterise spot-kicks as the strongest area of his game, or at least the area in which he has built up the biggest reputation. That said, having always played outfield when he was younger, he also explained,”I’ve always felt comfortable with the ball, and that's becoming increasingly important in the modern game.” 


While at Loughborough University, he managed to win a silver medal at the 2011 Universiade (student Olympics) in Shenzhen, China. “It was an amazing experience which involved staying in the athletes village for 3 weeks.” Breaking through yet another boundary, Jupp played a big part in granting Team GB their best finish at the time. Despite the final loss against Japan, it provided him with yet another wonderful experience, that can only be shared by the top athletes from around the world.


Moving onto Barnet FC for the next stage of his career, Jupp played alongside Graham Stack and under the management of Edgar Davids, who were also two influential figures for him. The former, who of course was also a goalkeeper, personally guided Jupp through this time. He stated,”He was another idol of mine because he was a really nice guy, and of course a very good keeper.” On the other hand, he found playing under Edgar Davids was purely a surreal experience. As he and all of his coaching staff were old Ajax players, they had their individual and unique training methods and tactics, brought over from a Champions League winning side in Amsterdam. It entails entirely ball-based work, even from day 1 of pre-season to try and implement this complicated, but extremely effective culture. “While it has become extremely normalised in the Premier League today, a decade ago it was unheard of.” He observed that they were the people that truly brought this style to England and introduced a mindset in a new generation of managers. 


Moving on once again, he reflected upon his time at Chertsey Town with an equally strong sense of fondness and achievement. Their dramatic FA Vase win, made possible by yet another penalty shootout victory in the semifinals and an extra time win in the final capped off a great season. It also held a great deal of personal importance to Jupp since he had been denied the opportunity to play the first game at the new Wembley with ESFA school boys there years earlier due to delays in its construction. Having doubted he would ever get the opportunity to do so, it was perhaps most fitting that it was his contributions against Northwich Victoria in that shootout that sent Chertsey to Wembley to fulfill a lifelong dream.


As a word of advice for aspiring footballers, drawn from his career as a whole, Jupp claimed that the importance of physical readiness cannot be overstated. If he was able to start his career from age 20 again, he said,”I would make sure that I warmed up, warmed down, did that extra work in the gym to prevent little injuries that can set your career back.” However, with equal sincerity, he said that you should just play without fear. Big events can result in a huge amount of pressure and expectation being heaped on your shoulders by yourself and others. In spite of your performance, there will always be a next game, where you can prove yourself once again.


Now with over a decade of experience under his belt, Jupp has grown to become very familiar with the industry, and as a result, aware of the many different roles that are present. Although he does not possess a particular interest in becoming a manager after retirement, his return to Hampton as the goalkeeper coach a few years ago has certainly provided him with an idea for the future. That said, at the moment, he is still eagerly fighting for silverware, and a long way off undergoing an alteration in his job. 


In the way of a weekly routine, the past year has largely seen Jupp having to sit at home, as the league has been cancelled for the second year in a row. However, in times of normality, he would usually play a match on Saturday, sometimes on Tuesday, and training on Thursday. He explained,”Sometimes, an away game on Tuesday can result in us getting back at 1:00 am, which is mundane for the lads that then have to go to work in the morning”. Therefore, regardless of success achieved, it undoubtedly appears as if there is a general lack of appreciation for lower league sides and the effort that everyone puts in to running them. Especially given the cancellation of their fixtures, it is obvious to see how it can be demotivating – quite the opposite to endless rights of the players in the Premier League. 


As a continuation of this point, Chertsey fans are not able to generate as much noise as a celebratory chant in The Kop. An average attendance at the Surrey club of about 400 people places them at the more popular end of clubs in their league, compared to Barnet FC’s general attendances of 5000 people. Needless to say, the largest crowd he has ever played under was a roaring 25,000 at Wembley for the final of the FA Vase. I’m sure there aren't many stands in the Premier League that would create as greater sound as the one that was produced when the final whistle blew to crown Chertsey Town champions of the FA Vase 2019. 


Looking back, in terms of a proudest moment of his career, Jupp certainly has a great number to pick from. Perhaps what was most special about all of these achievements was the nature in which they were won. Both winning the ISFA cup, and the FA Vase fulfilled a dream that he had been denied on several occasions beforehand. Virtually every game that he has played in, in the latter stages of a competition, has gone to to extra time or penalties. His invincibility from spot-kicks, his commanding voice from the back, and as proof of all of this – his achievement of ISFA player of the year, which is virtually unprecedented as a goalkeeper. Nevertheless, among the countless bits of silverware, it was arguably the bar tab, that was built up on the night of the ISFA Victory by that group of Hampton pupils that was bigger than any competition win.