Wycombe Wanderers midfielder Gareth Ainsworth is one of the npower Football League's most seasoned professionals. He is known and loved by fans up and down the country having played in most divisions from the heights of the Barclays Premier League right down to the depths of non-league football.

Things could have been very different, though, if the Lancastrian had fulfilled his ambitions of being a rock star.

"People often ask me, if I could have been David Beckham or Mick Jagger who would I chose; Mick Jagger wins every time for me," he said. "I love football to death but there's something inside of you sometimes and, for me, music definitely wins over football."

Music has played an integral part of the 38-year-old's life from the moment he entered the world.

"I first got into music when I was very, very young. My mum, Christine Ainsworth, was a professional singer when I was growing up. She sang in a lot of big bands in the 60s and 70s and made a living out of it.

"I inherited those genes from my mum and my dad was a big rock and roll fan, too, he got me into The Who quite early and I have never looked back since then. I remember having the turntable on with vinyl records playing.

"I think their influences have molded me into what I am; it was a proper rock and roll upbringing."

Whilst he has made over 500 professional football appearances for 10 different clubs, spanning over two decades, music has remained at the forefront of his life. His rock 'n' roll style has been embraced by the team-mates he has played with, as well as the fans he has touched.

"'Wild Thing' has been my nickname for the last 15 years in football, it started when I was at Wimbledon in the Premier League. They nicknamed me 'Wild Thing' due to the way I play and the way I train. They would play the song over the tannoy at Wimbledon and it has stuck with me ever since."

Whilst the majority of footballers might like to wind down on the golf course or keep the competitive edge up at home by playing computer games, Gareth, isn't your stereotypical footballer. If he's not on the training ground, he is hard at work rehearsing with his newly-formed band, Road to Eden, or at a gig checking out local bands.

"I get to a few gigs, I like going to see local bands but I have also been lucky enough to see the Sex Pistols and The Who recently. My own rehearsals take place once or twice a week and I look forward to them. We mess around but we also graft and we're trying to produce good music.

"We haven't had a gig recently but we are planning our first one this year as Road to Eden. We have been writing for a year and a half and we have got a good 15-20 songs together. We're looking to play our stuff and hopefully get some of our music recognized.

"I play about and tinker with instruments in rehearsals but being on stage, for me, is all about the singing, that's what I enjoy."

It's hardly surprising that he is the lead man on stage with his band when you consider his stature in football and what he has achieved. He is the current club captain of Wycombe Wanderers and was rewarded with a place in the PFA League 2 team of the year last season as the Chairboys won promotion.

He was also one of the front men in Queens Park Rangers' squad throughout the seven years he spent at Loftus Road, where he made over 150 appearances, not forgetting the two times he spent as caretaker manager when the Hoops needed a trusted head in charge of the team.

Prior to his lead-singer role with Road to Eden, Gareth was the voice of another band, called Dog Chewed the Handle.

"I was in the band [Dog Chewed the Handle] for 10 years and in the early noughties we were gigging quite a lot, particularly around the London scene and the Home Counties. We split up about two or three years ago and now me and the lead guitarist, Lee van Sargent - which is quite a rock 'n' roll name, have reformed as Road to Eden.

"We used to pack places out, they were mostly pubs and clubs but we got the crowd singing along to our stuff and people have even come along with our songs as their ringtones on their phones. We got some good stuff and hopefully we can push on with Road to Eden."

Despite being a talented footballer, a lot of his achievements in the sport have been with the help of managers, coaches, team-mates and fans. In music, it's no different, he is eager to heap praise on his rock 'n' roll partner, Lee, and believes they make a good team.

"Lee predominantly writes most of the stuff but we have collaborated on a few of the songs. He's the musical genius as the lead guitarist; my forte is singing and being the front man. We come together quite well."

With the midfielder's contract expiring this summer he has, of course, been planning for life after football. Don't expect to see him on Soccer Saturday alongside Jeff Stelling, though, nor in the dugout lending a helping hand to one of the many friends he has made over the last 20 years in the game.

Expect to see him giving it his all on stage; 2012 is likely be the year that Gareth Ainsworth - the footballer who was once worth two millions pounds - achieves his ambitions of being a rock star.

"I will, without a doubt, continue my passion for music after my playing days come to an end. It doesn't matter if my legs go, I can still get up and sing. The only thing will be the throat going but hopefully that will be around a lot longer than the legs.

"It would be fantastic to be judged as a successful singer as well as what I have done in football. It's certainly not a Glenn Hoddle and a Chris Waddle gig, it's a proper band and not a gimmick.

"Watch this space; Road to Eden will be up and running soon with a website containing MP3s and a bit about the band. We want people to come and see us to see if they like it."

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