THE FIRST MOVE: I had been going to Preston for a while because my brother Peter was on trial there. Then I was asked to go to Carlisle for a trial, and then Ipswich. Soon after, I broke my thumb and missed out on going to clubs like Bolton and Sunderland.
Manchester United and Newcastle asked me for trials, but my dad didnt feel they were the right places for me to go.
I got to 14 and it was getting too much for me. My summer holidays were spent going from one place to the next and I couldnt decide which was the right club.
Man City had asked me to sign schoolboy forms, and it got to the stage when myself and my mum and dad decided we needed to make a decision. In the end, it came down to Ipswich, Sunderland, Preston, Carlisle or Man City. And we felt Man City was the best opportunity for me.
Bobby Robson at Ipswich tried to persuade me otherwise and made me a fantastic offer, which was a huge amount of money to be turning down. But my dad told me to go with what my heart said. If youre good enough, the money will follow, he said. I did, and I have always taken that view since then.
Man City really looked after its young players. It had a good record of young players coming through and it just felt right. And the distance to go from Carlisle to Manchester wasnt anything like the distance to Ipswich, which was a big thing at the time as well.
I could have gone to Carlisle, but I was always told to aim as high as I could. I was always made very welcome at Carlisle but it didnt feel the right club at the time.
As a kid, I wanted to go to Man United and Newcastle and see what they were like, but I respected my dads opinion. He felt I was right to choose Man City in the end, and I stuck with it.
THE DEBUT (Man City 3-2 Coventry. October 2, 1982)
At the start of the season my ambitions were to get into the reserve team. Id just turned 16 and by October Id made my debut for them.
Then one Friday morning I turned up to train with the other apprentices, and John Ryan, the youth team manager, said, Youre with the first team today. I didnt really understand it.
Then after training I was doing all my usual apprentices jobs, and John Benson, who was assistant manager to John Bond at the time, told me I was in the squad for Saturday. I couldnt believe it.
And when I turned up on Saturday, my name was in the team. I was playing. I only found out an hour before kick-off so I didnt have the chance to get nervous.
I was suddenly in the team with people like Paul Power, Asa Hartford, Tommy Caton, Kevin Bond, Joe Corrigan and Kevin Reeves. All really top players, and some of them had played in the World Cup. I remember thinking, Bloody hell, what am I doing here?!
At the time, we didnt used to warm up on the pitch before the games.
You just did your own thing in the gym underneath the stands, so I didnt really appreciate the atmosphere until I was running down the tunnel.
There were 28,000 people in the ground, and I remember not being able to hear a single thing. The noise was incredible. Id never heard anything like it in my life.
The game went past so quickly. I won a header at the far post which set up the winner, but thats the only part I can remember.
I know I did ok. I didnt let myself down. I was more than happy with that from my debut.
THE MAN CITY YEARS (1982 to 1988):
After my debut, I played three more games, but when it came to Man Utd away, I was left out because John Bond went for experience. And I never played again that season.
We got relegated to the old Division Two and Billy McNeill took over as manager. He said he had too many players on the books and wanted me to go out on loan to toughen me up.
So I went out to Finn Harps in Ireland and agreed to stay with them for the first three months of the season. At the time I was on first-year pro wages, and they doubled my money.
But after the first month, I was doing really well but I felt I was being forgotten there. I rang the manager and said I wanted to go back to City. He didnt have a problem with that, and I got the next flight back. And Billy McNeill put back in the first-team after a week.
But what I didnt know at the time was they were looking to give me a free transfer at the end of the season, and Bob Stokoe, who was Carlisle manager at the time, came to watch me in a reserve game. I had an absolute shocker in the first-half, and he left at half-time. But in the second-half I played really well and got in the first team on the Saturday, and played the last nine games and helped us get promoted.
My first goal was against Cardiff. We were expected to win that game, but we lost 2-1 and got absolutely slaughtered. I scored with a left-foot volley at the far post, and afterwards, Billy McNeill said I was the only player who didnt deserve to be criticised.
That summer, Billy McNeill left for Aston Villa, and Jimmy Frizzell took over, but we got relegated again. Then Mel Machin came in and told me he wanted to build the team around my style of play. I went away for the summer absolutely delighted.
But in pre-season Mel Machin came in and told us how we were going to play, and myself and the right-winger, David White, found it confusing. So being a young lad, I spouted off and said I was confused. Mel then asked David if he was finding it difficult, and he just said, No. So I was on my own.
Mel Machin didnt like the fact that I had questioned him. That was effectively the end for me at Man City. In future, whenever there was a change to be made, I would be the one to be left out.
I went to speak to him, and he said he didnt want me to go. But then the general manager told me they had accepted an offer from Oxford. I knew Brian Horton, their manager, had tried to sign me for Hull before, and I decided it was time to take a step backwards so I could start moving forward again.
INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION (England Under 18s - three caps; England Under 21s - five caps)
To be selected for the Under 18s for the first time was wonderful. Graham Taylor was the manager and he liked playing with wingers, which was fantastic for me. In my first game I played with Teddy Sheringham, who got a hat-trick.
My first involvement with the Under 21s was in 1986. I was in the squad to go to Denmark for a European Championship qualifier, but I didnt get on. But the second leg was at Maine Road, and I got on as a sub.
I played in Pisa against Italy as a sub, and then went to the Toulon Tournament. I roomed with Gazza and was playing with the likes of David Seaman, Tim Flowers, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Tony Adams and Nigel Clough.
Gazza was an absolute character, a fantastic fella who had a heart of gold. He was always one of those lads you wanted to put your arm round and look after.
He was always the practical joker, wanting to prat about. I remember him standing on the balcony and throwing fruit and ice-cream onto the FA committee down below. But even then you could see signs of the obsessive compulsive disorder he has now. I was having to look after him, basically.
It was a big tournament with a big media following, and it was just a great time. The highlight was the game against Morocco I scored one, and the first goal, which was credited to Gazza, was actually mine as well.
It came back off the keeper and I knocked it in. But I let him have it.
My last game for the Under-21s was against Yugoslavia at Peterborough. We won one-nil and I made the goal. But I was never selected after that.
As for the full England team, I was never convinced I was going to be able to play at that level. John Barnes and Chris Waddle were in front of me in my position.
But to have got international recognition at the levels I did was a massive achievement for me, and I still get a shiver when I look at my caps at home. I still feel so much pride.
Interview by: Jon Colman (for The Cumberland News)
October 2003: Paul Simpson was confirmed as the new manager of Carlise on October 9 2003, having taken temporary charge of team affairs following the sacking of Roddy Collins at the end of August. It was the midfielder's second managerial appointment after he had spent almost 12 months at the helm of Rochdale having been made player-manager of the Lancashire club in May 2002, at the age of 35.
Born in Carlisle on 26 July 1966, Paul had been working towards management as he neared the end of his playing career, and had taken numerous coaching courses to obtain the qualifications that are set to become mandatory in the English game. As a player which remains part of his role at Brunton Park Paul is a left-sided winger who has also been known to play effectively as a striker.