LEE Barnard was hot property on the pitch during his first spell with Southend United.

But the Shrimpers striker is now making his money in the housing market.

After opting to hang up his boots, Barnard began to build his property portfolio.

And the 35-year-old is delighted to have discovered another real passion in his life.

“I’m into property now, “said Barnard, who enjoyed two spells with Blues.

“When I was at Southampton I managed to save some money and build a portfolio which I’ve carried on.

“I love it and it’s a second passion of mine really .

“To tick over my brother in law has a luxury landscaping company so I’ll help him out now and again and the same with a mate of mine who has a building company.

“I don’t do it too often but I enjoy it and obviously spending time with my family.”

Barnard, who grew up in Billericay, enjoyed a fine career, scoring 88 goals in 222 games.

But it was with Tottenham Hotspur that the former Mayflower School pupil first came to prominence.

“I broke into the first team, was doing well and it looked promising,” said Barnard.

“The manager Martin Jol was looking to push me on but then I got injured in pre-season which really took me out for the whole season.

“I was out for about seven months and played some reserve games when I got back.

“But the following pre-season he said to go out on loan so I went to Crewe.

“During that my time there he got the sack and Ramos came in.

“His assistant was Gus Poyet who I had played with and I just said to him look am I going to get a chance and he said no.

“I wanted to go and play and luckily enough they didn’t stand in my way.”

Barnard made three substitute appearances for Spurs, the last of which was perhaps the most eventful for all the wrong reasons as a number of players suffered food poisoning ahead of a huge clash at West Ham United on the final day of the season.

“We stayed at a hotel because it was a big game,” recalled Barnard.

“The club wanted everyone together and we used to room on our own.

“We got told the team the night before and I was on the bench which was great.

“I grew up as a West Ham fan so to be involved was extra special for me.

“But during the night I was so ill and I was pretty much up the whole evening.

“I didn’t want to say anything because it was my chance to be involved but, in the morning at breakfast, the doctor came over to ask if I had been ill and it was only then I found out half the team had it.

“It was the last game and it couldn’t be called off.

“We were told they could have delayed it 15 minutes but that wasn’t really going to do a lot.

“I remember Michael Carrick was in the toilet throwing up before the game and it was gutting the way it went.

“I came on but we lost so I was gutted as well as we missed out on the Champions League.

“It’s a strange thing to have been involved in and I certainly didn’t eat lasagne for a while but I’m partial to one again now.”

Barnard was never to play for Spurs again but, when leaving White Hart Lane in January 2008, he opted for a switch to the Shrimpers.

“I had a few options but Southend just felt right and looking back I made the right decision,” said Barnard.

“I grew up in Billericay so I’d always had one eye on Southend with them being my local team in the league.

“It went really well and I loved it.

“We had a really good set of players and Tilly (Steve Tilson) was brilliant.

“Everything felt good, we went on a good run in my first season and got in the play-offs where unfortunately Doncaster smashed us.

“But we had a good team with some great players who went on to do some great things.

“It was an absolute pleasure to play for Southend really and it was more special to me being my local team so even when I look back now they’re fond memories.”

Barnard scored 11 goals in his second season with Blues before he started the following campaign in fine fashion, scoring 17 goals by January.

And that led to him joining Southampton for £175,000.

“I started the season really well,” said Barnard.

“I was enjoying my football but my contract was up at the end of the season.

“To be honest it was probably good for both parties I left.

“Southend were struggling financially and it was good for them to get some money for me.

“It was sad to go but at the same time it was a big move for me and Southanpton is a big club.

“It was the right time to move on.”

And Barnard initially continued his fine form with the Saints.

“My first year and a half was amazing,” said Barnard.

“I was playing regularly and scoring regularly too.

“It’s a big club and we got promoted to the Championship.

“But towards the end of the season I got injured and to be honest I never really recovered from it.

“I tried to break into the team after I came back but it never really happened.

“I went out on loan a few times but then moved on.”

For the second time in his career, Barnard chose to sign for Blues.

The striker signed in January 2014.

But he could not replicate the form he found in his first spell at Roots Hall.

“If I’m honest I rushed my rehab to come back to Southend,” said Barnard.

“I was told I wasn’t wanted at Southampton so when Southend came in I jumped at the chance.

“It was nice coming back but I wasn’t fit and I couldn’t really move the way I wanted.

“I didn’t play that well in the second half of that season when I first came back but I had a good summer and I felt good in pre-season.

“I said to Phil Brown I knew I didn’t play well but I’m raring to go now.

“After that I felt like I didn’t really get a fair crack at it and it was a bit stop start.

“I went on loan to Stevenage and came back but he still didn’t use me.

“It was tough but there were some really good lads there so I had a really good time.

“Football wise it wasn’t good and I don’t think I did too well but there were different factors.

“The club got promotion though and I still enjoyed it.”

Barnard left Blues at the end of the 2014/15 season and spent a year with Crawley Town before dropping down into non-league.

Barnard lined up for Braintree Town, Chelmsford City and Maldon & Tiptree.

But a hamstring injury eventually led to the end of his career.

“I tore my hamstring at Maldon,” said Barnard.

“I tried to come back bit it wasn’t quite happening and it just felt right to hang my boots up.”

However, Barnard remains proud of his career.

“I had my fair share of injuries but there is nothing I would change,” said Barnard.

“I had great fun, a good career and played for some good teams with good players.

“We had some achievements along the way and although the injuries got in the way a little bit that’s just one of those things.

“I’m not one to think what if, it’s what happened and I wouldn’t change any of it.”

But Barnard may be ready to start another chapter in his footballing career.

“For a little while it was a relief when I retired as I didn’t have to keep on fighting to get fit,” said Barnard.

“I had some time away and really it’s only recently I’ve started to miss football again.

“Coaching never really appealed to me but recently it’s starting to cross my mind so who knows?”