A BUDDING journalist won a trip to Portugal to report on the Champions League final after she spotted an article in The Argus.

Megan Mackey, 12, from Crawley entered the Football for Friendship competition by interviewing Mark Beard, a former professional footballer and current youth team coach at Crawley Town.

Here are the best bits of the interview that sent her to the Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid match on May 24.

Megan: Could you describe football as an event bringing people together? If so, Why?

Mark: Yes. With all the competitions in football and at every tier of football, you have obviously got the top end where you got the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League but also down at grassroots level you got the children tournaments and loads of local leagues.

At the end of the day everyone is playing for the same reason because of their love of the game.

Megan: Equality is a topic often discussed in football, what is your opinion on the subject?

Mark: Equality is giving everyone opportunities to play.

Over the years it’s improved and we have seen in the last 20 years the women’s game develop.

We have also seen it in the disability side and in blind football. Every year it’s becoming more important.

For example, in the women’s football game with three full-time women’s super leagues, my brother is manager of Liverpool Ladies and they just won the league, so I could see how important it is.

I have been to lots of matches, they just qualified for the Women’s Champions League themselves so they can prove to any girls wanting to play football it can be done.

I know how important next season is for him so all the time it’s changing and I am really pleased.

Megan: The FA has a set of rules you as coaches have to follow, do you have any rules you would like to add or take away?

Mark: No, I think they keep trying to change rules all the time, but just keep football as it is.

I said before it has been going for hundreds of years, every time they are changing it, it can affect the way football as we know is being played.

I only think they should bring changes in if it’s for the better, for example this year they brought in the goal line technology which I think could be a good thing.

There have been quite important matches over the years that teams have managed to win or lose because of this, so it’s very good.

Every year they try and change things but it’s going to get to a point where they have nothing to change.

Megan: What word would you use to describe your path towards being a professional footballer?

Mark: The most important thing is attitude.

The hunger and desire to get to become a professional footballer is the most important thing, because you can have all the ability in the world, but without the attitude, it means nothing.

I have personally seen loads of players that were probably better than me ability wise but they didn’t have the attitude I had.

I always worked hard every day even when things didn’t go well for me.

I just wanted to improve and when training was finished I would go out on my own to try and help my game.

You sometimes need a bit of luck because you need that scout to spot you or a club to spot you but they normally do say that the cream rises to the top.

Megan: What was it like being a professional footballer?

Mark: It’s something I dreamed about from the age of four; I was in my first football team and as a kid that all I ever wanted to do.

Obviously, again it was down to the attitude and devotion, I was lucky enough to have a good career and get to where I wanted to be.

I played more than 400 games.

Megan: Who was your footballing idol?

Mark: My favourite player was Bryan Robson when I was growing up – he was a Manchester United captain and an England legend.

He was one of those players who was 100% committed to the cause and scored goals, he is an absolute legend in my eyes.