Thursday, October 23, 2008

A star is born: Wayne Rooney!

Against Everton Wayne Rooney could grab his 100th club goal - 17 of which came from his time at Goodison. Here, we track his path to Old Trafford...

Amid the pandemonium at Goodison Park, Clive Tyldsley bellowed: "Remember the name, Wayne Rooney." Moments earlier, the 16-year-old had announced himself to the football world by hammering a 30-yard injury-time winner against champions Arsenal.

Thirty-five miles down the East Lancs Road, knowing looks were exchanged. Master Rooney had surfaced on United's radar long before making a mug of David Seaman. He'd done the same to United's Schmeichel - Kasper Schmeichel, that is - at Littleton Road, against a United Under-9s side playing their first ever match.

“We hadn’t played any games before, the boys had just been training together,” recalls Paul McGuinness, now manager of United’s U18s. “We didn’t even have a goalkeeper, so Peter Schmeichel’s son Kasper played for us. He was the only kid we knew who played in goal! The Everton boys had been playing together for at least a year in a league beforehand, so they were used to playing games. You could tell, because they absolutely hammered us."

It wasn't just the scoreline (12-2) which stuck in the memory. All the talk was of a stunning goal from Rooney. “He scored a few (six to be exact), but there was one goal that stood out. It was basically the classic overhead kick, the perfect bicycle kick, which for a kid of eight or nine years old was really something special.”

“We were all wondering who this kid was,” recalls McGuinness. “It transpired that he was from a tough, boxing background, a sporting family and he was a diehard Everton fan. At that time you didn’t really get any kids crossing over to Manchester from Liverpool. We looked at it behind the scenes, but he was too fixated on Everton to contemplate leaving them.”

Keen to put a positive spin on the news that the new U9s had taken a double-digit hammering, McGuinness informed Sir Alex Ferguson about the 9-year-old talent that had done all the damage. “I remember coming back saying that we’d been beaten by 10 goals," he recalls. "You don’t generally want to advertise that fact to the manager - but I did mention that we’d seen a kid who had done very well."

*The goal that put Rooney onto the radar! Pure classic.*

Rooney continued his fast-track ascension through Everton’s ranks. The double hat-tricks and overhead kicks were harder to come by, but the competitive streak was even sharper.

“When we were playing for the U13s against Everton, me, Adam Eckersley and Mark Howard, who’s now left the club, played against him,” recalls United goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

“I think it was a 1-1 draw, and Mark and Wayne actually had an altercation which ended up with them both being sent off. That was pretty unheard of that level, usually it’s just a word to the managers asking if the offenders can be subbed off, but these were straight reds!”

Heaton would get several close-up glimpses of Rooney in action down the years, with one particular encounter at Altrincham’s Moss Lane in 2000 persuading United’s coaches that the Everton striker was realising his massive potential.

Tommy Martin, manager of United’s U15s, can vividly remember Everton’s number nine terrorising the Reds’ backline. “Overall we were too strong for them but he stood out on their side,” he smiles. “Wayne gave our defence a really tough time. After 10 or 15 minutes, you knew he was on the pitch because he was really upsetting our defenders. His pace always made him a handful.

“He was a winner back then – you could tell. He has changed in some respects, obviously, but even back then he was going back and tackling. He's always been in love with the game of football. For all the attention, fame and wealth it brings, I still see him as a kid in love with playing football.”

“I remember sitting with Jim Ryan watching him at Altrincham,” concurs Paul McGuinness. “We won the game 5-1, but I remember Jim saying ‘look at their number nine, he’s keeping at it and going all the time.’ He was running around after the ball and trying shots, and he really stood out in that game. We started following him closely from that point.”

One of United’s subsequent scouting missions, at Everton’s U19s clash with Bolton, yielded a breathtaking encapsulation of Rooney’s capacity for the incredible. Now the ripe old age of 15, he brought down a hoofed clearance from Bolton’s goalkeeper with his first touch and, still inside his own half, with his second lashed the ball back from whence it came. The helpless Trotters keeper could only watch as the ball sailed over his head, against the crossbar and back into his arms.

According to United’s chief recruitment officer Geoff Watson, however, the Reds’ keen interest wasn’t always fuelled by what they saw of Rooney in action – more Everton’s total assurance that they had a nailed-on player on their hands. 

“He invariably scored a couple of goals, but sometimes you'd go and watch Wayne and he wouldn’t do an awful lot,” says Watson. “The important thing that struck me was that when you spoke to the Everton people they were always so confident that they had a star in the making. They were so convinced about Wayne's ability.

“It was obvious he was a special talent. So many people went to watch Wayne Rooney that it was easy to get an opinion about him, there was a big buzz about him. Everton knew what they'd got from an early age.

“Obviously we weren't always privilege to that – one thing you learn in this business is that the club always know better about their own player than anyone else. They see him every day, while scouts from other clubs only have 90 minutes during a match to judge him on.

“Scouts will tell you there were games they went to and he hardly did anything. Scouts can only report what they see – they can't dream. To be honest, I think Wayne was always waiting for the bigger stage.”

Progress couldn’t come quickly enough for the young Rooney. Having raced up through Everton’s youth ranks, he went on to star for the Toffees’ Reserves, while also playing an integral part in the U18s’ run to the 2002 FA Youth Cup final, scoring eight goals in as many games.

Just over five months after the young Blues had slipped to a two-legged defeat against Aston Villa, and still five days shy of his 17th birthday, Rooney acquired hero status at Goodison Park with his unbelievable maiden strike against Arsenal.

As the ball cannoned in off the crossbar at the Park End, some 200 miles away Sir Alex Ferguson was making his way to the Loftus Park dressing rooms, having watched United endure a frustrating 1-1 draw with Fulham.

As news filtered through of Arsenal’s defeat at Goodison, however, Sir Alex could reflect on the day with renewed positivity. Especially after discovering the identity of the scorer, a name with which he had long since been very familiar.


- I got the above article from;
- Pictures from all over the internet;
- Video from Youtube.

Let's FIFA 09!

This is EA's lastest advert to promote their latest installment in the FIFA franchise. I have to admit... what a stunner! See for yourself below. 

The video above was aired during the half time of the Man Utd vs Chelsea game. Smart aren't they?


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Report: Man Utd 3, Celtic 0 - Unbeaten home record stretched to 17!

Wayne Rooney was hailed as “unplayable” last night as normal service was resumed with a vengeance at Old Trafford. Manchester United cruised to a 3-0 victory over Celtic in their all-British clash, a result that stretched their unbeaten home record in the Champions League to 17 matches and confirmed that their England forward is in the best goalscoring form of his career.

The first two goals came from Dimitar Berbatov — who has scored four in two European appearances for his new club and five in total this season — although on each occasion he appeared to be offside. However, Celtic’s displeasure was downplayed by Gordon Strachan. “I’m not going to sit here and scream about offside,” the manager said. “I’m a football man and I know when I’m beaten — and well beaten.”

In 19 away games in the present guise of the competition, Celtic have failed to muster a single victory and that sequence rarely looked in danger on their latest excursion south of the border. While their spirit could not be questioned, particularly in the opening half, United’s superiority told, with Rooney and Berbatov the key figures.

Rooney has mustered nine goals in his past seven appearances for club and country, a tally that exceeds the eight in seven he scored 12 months ago. “I’ve always said that Wayne’s goalscoring goes in spurts,” Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, said. “His goalscoring performances will even out as he gets older, we’ve no worries about that. I just hope the spurt he’s on lasts for a few more games.”

Strachan, the former United midfield player, was effusive, however. “I just think he’s unplayable,” he said of Rooney. “We tried different shapes and tactics, but he turns this way and that and then turns up somewhere else. When you see players like that you have to hold your hands up and say you’ve seen one world-class player backed up by a couple more, and then other international-class players.”

Strachan described United’s performance as “one of the best I’ve ever come across watching European football” and “better than anybody since I’ve been at Celtic”. That may have been excessive, but Ferguson’s players have served notice on their rivals in England and abroad that they remain a force to be reckoned with, keeping five clean sheets in succession and scoring 14 times in the process.

“We’re in a good bit of form at the moment and have terrific momentum,” Ferguson said. “I’m very pleased with the performance.” He has targeted ten points to qualify for the knockout stages — they have seven with three games to play, including Aalborg at home — but is intent on leaving group E as winners.

Ferguson also paid tribute to Berbatov. “Dimitar showed some fantastic pieces of football,” he said of the Bulgaria forward, who was slow to shine after his £30.75 million transfer from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer. “The rest of the team are beginning to understand the type of player he is and he can always produce a pass that will mean something. Some of his passing was absolutely superb.”

Berbatov was substituted with a hip injury, but Ferguson insisted that he and Cristiano Ronaldo, who took a knock to a kneecap, should be available to play away to Everton on Saturday. The manager had said that he would consider resting Ronaldo against Celtic, but said that the player “demanded to play this morning”. Rio Ferdinand was absent after sustaining a minor knee injury in training. - George Caulkin,


Monday, October 20, 2008

Manchester United slaughter WBA 4-0!!

IF MANCHESTER UNITED have been less than convincing in the early stages of their defence of the Premier League title, this performance provided promise of the strength and style still to come.

Wayne Rooney was brilliant, delivering a world-class goal that finally broke the deadlock in the second half and setting up Cristiano Ronaldo and substitute Nani for two more, with Dimitar Berbatov scoring his first Premier League goal for the club in between. It was almost vintage stuff.

Yet the game presented a microcosm of United’s season so far, for they were flat and anxious for much of the first half before Ronaldo and Rooney combined effectively on the edge of the area and Rooney fired a low shot past Scott Carson, the West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper. Referee Mark Halsey penalised Rooney for the manner in which he challenged Gianni Zuiverloon before setting up his strike, which seemed to ignite Rooney and his teammates. The longer the match went on the better they became, which Sir Alex Ferguson is sure will be the story of the season.

“The players have now got the legs to play 90 minutes and the rhythm and tempo as well. The speed of our game was terrific today,” said the Manchester United manager. “That was our best 90 minutes of the season. I reckon we are back on track and playing more like the real Manchester United.”

With free-scoring Chelsea having thrown down the gauntlet early in the day and Liverpool rising to the challenge against Wigan, it was imperative for United to demonstrate their ability and willingness to join the fight. They struggled early on, Ronaldo remaining a marginal influence until the second half and Berbatov unable to make any real impact before his pass sent Rooney on his way for the opening goal. The way he held up the ball before laying it off to Rooney, who crossed to Nani for the final goal, emphasised his class and it is a matter of time before the Bulgarian becomes a more consistently effective threat.

With Carlos Tevez and Anderson omitted Ferguson deployed a fluid and attacking midfield in support of the two strikers. Ronaldo and Park Ji-Sung switched flanks seamlessly and took up positions as part of a front four as frequently as they operated in midfield. But with Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson absent, United appeared to lack solidity in midfield in the opening skirmishes, leaving themselves exposed to West Brom’s counter-attacks. When Darren Fletcher missed a tackle, allowing Robert Koren to set up Chris Brunt for a long-range shot, this became apparent, but Brunt’s effort was too close to Edwin van der Sar. Alas, it was as close as West Brom would come to springing an upset.

Inevitably, United’s movement and passing improved. Ronaldo manoeuvred his way through on the left side of the box to strike a shot that Carson saved and the Baggies keeper had to be alert again when Ryan Giggs’s free kick into the near post was headed goalwards by Rooney, Carson managing to parry the ball away.

*Please note that the above video does NOT feature the goals against WBA. This is because YouTube is disallowing anyone to upload any direct-from-tv videos due to copyright reasons. To watch the goals click HERE.

Increasingly, the visitors found themselves pinned in their own half. A strong shout for a penalty was dismissed by referee Mark Halsey when Paul Robinson appeared to handle the ball but, from the resultant corner by Rooney, Nemanja Vidic’s header was saved by Carson’s legs.

West Brom rarely troubled their hosts but they worked hard and their defenders, especially Robinson and Jonas Olsson, were brave and obstinate, while Carson performed admirably. But Rooney, who has scored eight goals for club and country in his past six games, would not be denied and his goal, when it finally arrived, would have been worthy of winning the game.

He collected Berbatov’s pass, checked his run superbly when he entered the penalty box and cut inside to beat Ryan Donk before shooting past Carson into the bottom right corner. It signalled the end of West Brom’s resistance. Ronaldo and Berbatov were able to make them pay as United went some way towards addressing their goal difference behind Chelsea.

Rooney released Ronaldo on the edge of the area the Portuguese coolly stroked the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs. Two minutes later Nani crossed from the left and Berbatov met the ball with a sublime right-footed volley. Nani scored a fourth goal with a good finish from a ball supplied by the man of the moment.

“They paid £30m for Rooney but what is he worth now? £100m? I don’t know,” said Tony Mowbray, the West Brom manager. - Brian Doogan,


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rooney shines, Gerrard answer his critics and England look set to qualify for the 2010 World Cup

Fabio Capello, the England manager, goes into a World Cup hiatus having made history, revived a broken team and breathed life into dying men. Not a bad two months, then. The most eye-catching fact is that this was England’s fourth consecutive group six win, which represents the best start the national team have made in the qualifying stage of this competition, but bald statistics cannot express the extent to which the Italian has transformed English football, or the way he has contrived to do it with so little fuss.

Capello has made a prolific goalscorer of Wayne Rooney again, brought harmony to the heart of midfield, emboldened a protégé in Theo Walcott and found a line-leading centre forward in Emile Heskey where it was previously considered none existed. He has turned a group of players who staggered from their last campaign, shell-shocked like war veterans, and made them the epitome of calm, battle-hardened efficiency. In adversity here, they did not panic. Under incredible pressure in Zagreb, they rose to the challenge. It is like watching a different team, yet the personnel has barely changed.

Capello said he wished to be judged only when the competitive games began, and his self-belief was justified. The stuttering England witnessed in his friendly games is a distant memory now, a childish doodle, an early work, crude and unformed. This is the real deal. Maybe this England will be, too.

Credit is due to all who have played a part in carrying out Capello’s instructions with such assuredness, but, in Minsk, it was down to three in particular: Rooney and Steven Gerrard, the match-winners, and Heskey, whose selfless efforts have turned England into prolific goalscorers, with 14 in four competitive matches (and only two of those in the turkey shoot of Andorra). Heskey’s name rarely appears on the scoresheet but his aura does, it is what has turned Rooney into the confident, world-class forward who has been missing since the European Championship finals in 2004.

The days of trial and error are over. Capello knows Rooney’s best position for certain now and it is behind a target man-striker. It will take exceptional circumstances for him to be moved again. Together, Heskey and Rooney put in football’s equivalent of a double weekend shift and then some in Minsk, always available, always providing an option for a midfield that needed to move the ball on quickly under pressure from a youthful Belarus team. With the scores level at 1-1, Heskey and Rooney combined for a goal that illustrated perfectly why their partnership is such a success. Heskey battled his way down the left flank, shrugging off the attention of defenders, looking up for a quick cross only to see Rooney having problems holding the line and half a yard offside. He delayed, rode another challenge, waited until Rooney was in the perfect position to receive and slipped him the ball, the striker opening his body to steer it past Yury Zhevnov in the Belarus goal. Together, they made it look so simple; in reality, it was far from that.

Yet England are making a lot look simple these days. This was a tough game and Belarus are difficult opponents, capable of messing up superior opposition the way the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia did Steve McClaren’s England when drawing at Old Trafford. By the end, though, England were in complete control in a way that surpassed even the teams managed by serial qualifier Sven-Göran Eriksson. Rooney’s second put air into the scoreline, and what a beauty it was. Rooney dummied a pass 35 yards out but continued his run towards goal, at which point he was picked out perfectly by Gerrard.

As Belarus hit the panic switch, Rooney dribbled around one desperate tackle before finishing high into the net from eight yards out. It was a goal that spoke for England’s rebuilt confidence and of one man in particular. Capello is starting to get a higher level of performance out of Rooney than any other manager in recent years; perhaps even Sir Alex Ferguson.

Had Gerrard not hit a post with an open goal beckoning after going round a defender and the goalkeeper, the scoreline would have matched the victory in Zagreb, but it would be churlish to make this miss — although it was a howler — too much of an issue; especially as Gerrard did Capello’s bidding by starting on the left and got the goal that eased the pressure on England and put the team on their way.

It came after just 11 minutes. Frank Lampard won a tackle in midfield, the ball ran loose, Rooney scuffled for it, found Gerrard and he steered a sublime curling shot out of the reach of Zhevnov and into the far corner. He has now scored twice in the past three games in which he has started left of the midfield four. Perhaps that debate can be laid to rest, too, now?

What Capello also got right, though, was his assessment of the technical ability of the Belarus team, with his comparison to the nimble, shortpassing game of Arsenal. Those who believed the England manager was indulging in hyperbole and perhaps a little self-preservation by talking up the difficulty of the opposition were quickly dissuaded from this hopeful fantasy by the Belarus response to England’s first goal. Far from being stunned or subdued by Gerrard’s early intervention, they used it as the motivation to play to their attacking strengths and came at England, initially overrunning the midfield with quick, imaginative passing interchanges and movement.

David James, the England goalkeeper, was not looking convincing and when Pavel Sitko — a 22-year-old left-sided player who will surely not remain at his club, Vitebsk, for long — tested him with a shot from 20 yards, it took James two attempts to bring the ball under control. Not a good sign. There were more worrying developments on the flanks, where Wes Brown and Wayne Bridge were getting little protection and the Belarussians were looking increasingly dangerous.

Igor Stasevich, a 22-year-old right-sided player with BATE Borisov, the first Belarussian team to make the group stage of the Champions League, was causing Bridge particular problems and it was no surprise that the equalising goal should be his creation. If this underplays the contribution of his team-mates it is only because there were too many involved to list by name, the goal coming at the end of 23 passes in a manner that made Capello’s reference to Arsenal seem remarkably prescient.

Cutting to the chase, though, Stasevich dummied a cross, Bridge did not so much buy it as have the damn thing nationalised and Sitko stole in behind Brown at the far post so that when the ball did arrive, he stooped low unmarked with only James to beat.

On another night, under another manager, there might have been darting eyes and nervous glances. Instead, Capello gave his players the hard stare and they continued executing the plan as directed. It sounds so straightforward, this new thinking, maybe even a little dull. It is not. For this team, it is revolution writ large, although Capello will make it look and sound easy, like so much of what he does. - Martin Samuel,


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The utter obscurity of Killer7

Since I have started life in Malta again I have found a good batch of free time for me to divulge in previously unfinished games on my neglected GameCube. I always wanted to play Suda51's Killer7 since 2005 when it was released but I didn't have a GameCube then. I bought GameCube in late 2006 and with it 4 games - The Legend Of Zelda The Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, Killer7 and The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess plus the pack-in that came with the GCN Super Mario Strikers. What happened though was that Metroid Prime plus the two Zeldas took most of my time of GameCube-ing and i completely forgot that I owned Killer7. Let me add that the two Zeldas plus Metroid Prime are mind-blowing games that every hardcore gamer should seriously check out.

Anyway in February of 2007 I invested in the GameCube's successor - the Nintendo Wii. Although the Wii is backwards compatible I was way more interested in Wiimote waggling software than my old forgotten GCN games. Now, in October of 2008, when I was packing my GCN alongside my other belongings (I leave my Wii at home for safety reasons) I remembered Killer7! I have been playing it every chance I get since. It is so surreal, obscure, psychopathic and yet mature that I was bound to fall in love with it. This is the very first game that can either be hated until the end of time or loved and cherished until the sun explodes. Foretunately I fall in the latter category. I will tell you why in a later post. Now, I'm off to kill with the 7 Smiths. 

I believe that I have to eliminate one of Androo's Top Ten Videogames to have enough room for Killer7. I'm not sure yet. We'll see.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Nintendo DSi is so awesome because of....

8. New games
New games are a given of course. But not only new games but new innovation in games. Think of what the camera can do in a game (discussed later). Even without new features, there were a few launch titles announced for the DSi. The biggest being Mario & Luigi RPG 3.

7. Onboard memory
The flash memory is probably going to be used mostly for the DSWare games (again discussed later), but it might also be utilized in some games, you never know.

6. Better speakers
...Mean better sound quality. 'Nuff said.

5. SD card slot
Probably will be used for saving data once the onboard memory is full. Also to send photos over to computer and Wii (wait a camera? what? ...discussed later).

4. Bigger screens
The DSi will have 3.25 inch screens versus the DS's 3 inch screens. It's supposed to have a little bit better resolution too.

3. The web browser
The original internet browser you could buy for the DS. I've never used it before and heard it kind of sucked. Plus it was discontinued in the U.S. But the new DSi has a built in web browser that uses the same internet browser, Opera, as the Wii's one. The Wii's Internet Channel works pretty good in my opinion (could use some tabs) so hopefully this will turn out good too.

2. DSWare/Apps store
Similar to WiiWare, DSWare will allow smaller games and more indie titles to reach the audiences. The prices range from free, 200, 400, and 800 points. A lot of the apps could be like the iPhone's (MySpace, weather, etc.), but I also hope Nintendo releases Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and GBA games for downloads, especially seeing that there's no GBA slot.

1. Build-in camera
The single biggest change of the DSi is the camera. Some sites claim its a 3 megapixel, while most others say it's a 0.3 megapixel. If it's the latter then that's not that high of quality. Even so, the possibilities the DSi opens up with a camera are pretty big. You'll be able to directly send the photos you snap over to your Wii's Photo Channel. There's also a built in editor on the DSi similar to the Wii's (in the Photo Channel).

All in all, the DSi brought quite a few changes. Though some may complain about the lack of GBA backward compatibility, the newer innovations, particularly the camera, DSWare, and the bigger screen and speakers, make it worth it. Plus having a new seperate Wifi-specific switch will make online DS gaming seemless! I will be be preordering it as soon as an EU release date is announced!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Interview: Slash on everything, from top-hats to Metallica!

Slash: The MusicRadar Interview

You've played lots of Les Pauls and had several signature models over the years. How do the new models compare to those you've played in the past?

"That's actually a really good question. The quality – and I'm not just blowing smoke up Gibson's ass – in all honesty the quality of the guitars that the Gibson Custom Shop, Gibson USA and Epiphone are making is such that you can pick one up off the rack or out of the box and actually use it.

"And I say that because I started the last Velvet Revolver tour with one of my guitars I'd used for years, and at some point Gibson had made one of my signature Les Pauls. I received it, used it at soundcheck then stuck with it for the rest of the tour. I did very little to it besides changing the strings and it was great."

Do the new models have any features you wish that your Les Pauls had 20 years ago?

"Really when it comes down to it a Les Paul is a really simple instrument – even things like the TonePros bridge are basically an update on an old idea. We shave the neck to make it fit certain individual hand sizes – the particular type of neck that I like to use is a pretty thin neck, so we go for that. The new Goldtops have the custom tone controls too which don't get muddy if you roll them back."

"All I'm doing is playing guitar. I don't go in for any pyrotechnics and I don't need any bells and whistles."

Is the neck shape based on one particular guitar?

"It's not just one. I think what's happened over the years is I've played so many different Les Pauls, I've always had four, if not 10 Les Pauls out with me on the road, and I think the signature models are basically just accruing information that I've picked up over the years having played Les Pauls for so long.

"I've identified the different features that I really like, and so those particular necks are what I've gravitated towards with particulars guitars on the road, so it's basically just an accumulation of knowledge."

Have you ever been tempted to incorporate any crazier features into your signature instruments?

"Well personally all I'm doing is playing guitar. I don't go in for any pyrotechnics and I don't need any bells and whistles and I think the more you cut out of a guitar to make room for any sensationalistic amenities like that the more you take out of the guitar's original sound, and I try to keep it intact."

Do you modify any of your Les Pauls for slide playing?

"I actually tend not to play slide on Les Pauls, only because there's different guitars like Les Paul Juniors and Melody Makers that are really good for slide. That's not to say I won't pull a slide out and play slide on a Les Paul occasionally but if a song requires it the chances are I'll have a guitar set up accordingly."

How many guitars do you currently own?

"I've got somewhere between 80 and 90 guitars and I'd say 75 percent of them are Les Pauls. It seems ridiculous – but they all have a unique purpose."

Is there one that would you run through the flames and save if your house was burning down?

"Well, it would definitely be benefiting this particular promotion if I said one of my signature guitars – but in all honesty it would be the guitar I've been recording with ever since Appetite For Destruction. It's been my main 'go to' guitar for years.

"Having said that I have 80 or 90 guitars there are two that I keep close by with me at all times. Really you only need one or two guitars in your whole career. But you end up collecting a lot of guitars before you discover that reality."

So back to the house burning down, you can also save one record, and one other miscellaneous item, what are they?

"That's a tough one. I don't really have any what you'd call important miscellaneous items with the exception of my top hat I guess. But if it was a record then that's a tough call. Um…I'd probably say just a great, well-rounded rock record…Exile On Main Street. Plus it's a long-playing record."

"It's funny looking back at old pictures at some of the stupid hats I'd wear."

Not Rocks by Aerosmith?

"You know, normally – that's one of my favourite records of all time, but it's one of those records that's sort of a little bit limited and you have to be in that mood."

You've tended to play predominantly sunburst Les Pauls over the years. Is there a particular favourite Goldtop that inspired the latest Epiphone and Gibson models?

"That's a good question because where this particular Goldtop comes from, in the nineties on the Use Your Illusion tour, I picked up a brand new Gibson Goldtop which became a major part of the set and I used it for all of the sort of epic ballads that had long sustaining guitar solos. Sweet Child O' Mine, November Rain, Estranged, Knocking On Heaven's Door, So Fine, and my guitar solo as well, so I did The Godfather with it.

"The tobacco sunburst and regular sunburst are very aggressive sounding guitars, so it wasn't necessarily as aggressive but it made up for it with this really nice, warm, round lead sound. For those songs I would take the tone and I would turn it all the way down for those really creamy, sustainy solos.

"There's different singers for every song and I think it will be the choice of vocalists that surprises people the most." Slash on his forthcoming solo album

"And that particular guitar got stolen out of my recording studio in 1998, so I went to Gibson and asked if they could make me another one, modelled after that 1991 Goldtop, and that's basically what this one is. So the tone pots have particular significance."

Any guitar that could withstand the hardcore touring schedule of the Use Your Illusion days must be pretty tough.

"I think Gibsons are hands down the toughest guitars, I have to say. I smashed one once at a show in New Jersey a while back, and it took a couple of good, heavy whacks."

We've heard rumours about a Slash solo record. How is it going?

"I started writing on the road with Velvet Revolver and then when we finished the tour and I got back from the UK at the beginning of the summer I started to sift through the ideas I'd recorded and elaborating on them."

What do you use to record your demos?

"It's not real complicated, it's a 16-track Boss digital recording studio. It's really simple because I really can't stand to deal with anything complicated. At this point though I've got a friend who has a Pro Tools set up in his garage and he's been sort of engineering. I put down the basic ideas here at home, then go over there and sort of expand on that at his place. And that's basically the demo at that point."

Do you think your solo record will surprise people?

"I don't know if it will be so much surprising…I mean, it touches on a lot of different sounds. There's different singers for every song and I think it will be the choice of vocalists that surprises people the most. But you'll just have to wait and see who they are. I'm sure there will be huge rumours going around will be reported as if they are a matter of fact!"

"We want to try different things – with Scott in Velvet Revolver it was kind of limiting."

On the subject of rumours, everyone from Sebastian Bach to Lenny Kravitz has been reported as being the new Velvet Revolver singer. Are you any closer to finding a permanent replacement for Scott Weiland?

"I mean, we haven't picked anybody, so until we actually pick somebody and find that guy….the first time around we auditioned so many singers – we weren't even called Velvet Revolver at the time – and then Scott became available. We sort of knew it was a pretty touch and go situation.

"Anyhow, this time around we've established ourselves as a proper band and we want to try different things – with Scott it was kind of limiting – so we are concentrating on just writing really cool stuff and waiting for the right guy."

You've worked with really great singers in the past, but on occasion they've perhaps been difficult to work with so finding someone really easy going would be a bonus too…

"Haha, I figure we've paid some dues."

Fans recently voted for Axl Rose to be the new Velvet Revolver frontman on MusicRadar. Something tells us that this is unlikely to happen.

"I heard that too. Yeah right. Anyway...haha."

On a more light-hearted note, you are obviously famous for sporting a top hat – who are your favourite hard rock hat wearers?

"I always thought Stevie Ray Vaughan looked pretty cool in that cowboy hat. Lemmy always wears that same kind of hat too, it looks pretty good on him. I think that back in the day, Mick Jagger used to wear a couple of different hats that all seemed to be pretty cool for him. I don't know though, I never really singled out people who wore hats!

"It's funny though because before the top hat came around I was always on a quest for a hat – it's funny looking back at old pictures at some of the stupid hats I'd wear at any given gig. Then the top hat came and it just stuck, it's sort of like the Les Paul, you know, here's something that works. I always though Rick Nielsen's baseball cap was particularly cool for him."

Along with the top hat and the Les Paul, we've got used to seeing you photographed with a cigarette over the years. How are you coping with the smoking bans that have come into force in the various countries you visit?

"I've paid a healthy sum of fines! You just have to go to the promoters and ask for extra money. That's not a bad idea, I'm glad I just thought of that. So you need to go to the promoter and say you need an extra 400 quid every time…"

Finally, there's a big fuss about the new Metallica record. Have you heard Death Magnetic and if so, what do you think?

"I've heard one song, which was great, but I haven't heard the whole record. It's worthy of a big fuss because everybody has been waiting for a new like, Metallica Metallica record for years so I'm excited to hear the whole thing and actually have a physical copy in my hand. I can't wait to put it on my car stereo and drive around at high speed."

It's definitely a record for driving fast to, even if that is a little dangerous…

"Metallica are meant to be dangerous."