When teenager Alan Smith scored his first goal with Leeds United, one of the first things he did was ring his mum. England's youngest player Michael Owen is building a house around the corner from his mother. But how much do mums influence their sons' success? Helen Mead put the question to two of Bradford's youngest professional sportsmen...

Stuart Fielden, 19, is a prop forward with Bradford Bulls. He is one of the youngest members of the squad. He has two brothers, who also play rugby, and two sisters


"From the beginning my mum has been very supportive of everything I've done. I've been playing football since the age of eight and rugby since I was 15. When I was playing football my mum would come to every game, clean my kits and make sandwiches for me. Before I was selected for the first team I would be training all day and all evening, then I'd come home exhausted and she would make my tea. It has helped us all to come home to that. I have to have a special diet which is high in carbohydrate and protein and low in fat. My mum varies it really well. When I was first selected my mum was really pleased, although I didn't play until a couple of games later. I like to talk to her about the game and value her opinion. At home we get on really well, we never argue or fall out - it is helpful having a nice, relaxing, stable home to come back to. I used to ask her if it was okay to wash my kit and iron and make my tea, and she said she was very happy to do it. If she hadn't supported me all along I may not be playing now. We all appreciate her - she's the best mum in the world."

Mum Marilyn

"I am really proud of Stuart, he has worked really hard. I go to watch every match with my husband and the boys try to support one another - Adam, Jamie and Stuart all play rugby. Jamie and Stuart still live at home. I cook them a low fat, healthy diet and make sure their clothes are washed, ironed and sorted out. I get a lot of pleasure from being their mum. I like them to be able to come home and know that everything is sorted out. Super League is so hard and competition is so fierce that players need to concentrate. I'm sure they appreciate me - they are very good lads. If Stuart is playing away and I haven't managed to get there, the first thing he will do is ring me to tell me how they've done. All my sons do that. We are proud of all of them and try very hard not to heap praise on one over the other. When they were younger we would ferry them about - it is all about being there and spending a lot of time with them rather than money on them. He is the youngest of my five children and I think I tend to spoil him - the others say that."

Andy O'Brien is a Bradford City defender. At 19, he is the youngest member of the first team. He has also played for the England Under-21 team. He has one brother


"My mum has followed me throughout my career. She used to clean my kit and cook for me. She was ecstatic when I was picked for the first team. About a month ago I played for England Under 21s against France - she was delighted. I played at under-18 level too and she got my shirt framed for me. Mum comes to all the home games and tries to get to the away games. If she can't she watches it on TV or gets someone to video it. She is always there whenever one of us is down to lift us up. Mum takes an interest in my football and keeps all the press cuttings. I can talk to her in a different way to my dad, who knows more about football. My mum has a different outlook. I know she talks about me to friends - it's a bit embarrassing, but I would not swap her! Without doubt she has helped me get where I am today."

Mum Rosemarie

"I am extremely proud of Andy and particularly proud of him playing in the England Under-21 team - it really is a dream come true. When I first took him to a football match he was about six and he loved it. It has gone on from there. We speak to each other every day and he always keeps me informed of what he's doing - if he's staying in a hotel with the squad he will ring me, he is so kind and caring, he's very genuine. Andy doesn't live with me now. but he comes with his brother, Paul, two or three nights a week for dinner."

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.