Former Villans Call it a Day
Not the most important, not the most popular, but already the end of the 2007/08 season has brought about the retirement of 2 former players.
Before the final few weeks of this season, Crewe Alexandra defender Neil Cox announced that it was time for him to stop playing football. Cox himself had become a target of the Crewe boo-boys, as Dario Gradi’s media front-man Steve Holland led the club to the edge of League Two football, only just surviving thanks to Nicky Maynard (take note Martin) going goal-crazy on return from his long-term injury.
Cox spent most of his career as a central defender, only really branching out in his last season at Crewe to a bizarre central midfield position. He was signed by Villa from Scunthorpe United, and managed 40 games for the Birmingham side. Whilst never considered a regular, Cox did pop up from time to time in important matches, even featuring in Villa’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United in the 1994 League Cup Final!
Cox went on to play for Middleborough, Bolton, Watford and Cardiff before finally winding up at my local side Crewe. By the time he hit South Cheshire, a player not exactly known for his pace in the past, became so slow it appeared at times during matches that he was at risk of traveling backwards should he have become any slower.
When talking about the Crewe club captain, manager Steve Holland reserved special praise for his outgoing leader:
“Neil has had an outstanding career which has seen him play at the very highest level and compete for trophies. He has been a credit to himself and his profession for many years and it has been a pleasure to work with him during the year I have been in charge.
“The only regret I do have is that I wasn't able to work with him earlier in his career because Neil is what I would call a proper footballer. He is a good player and a good leader of men. He has been there, seen it and done it in the game and has been a major influence during his time here at Crewe.”
Meanwhile, former Celtic and Villa midfielder Alan Thompson has opted not to stay on at League One side Leeds United any longer, turning to a break, before a return to football in some yet to be determined capacity.
Thompson joined Villa in 1998 and actually managed less games than Cox, just the 48 before current Villan gaffer Martin O’Neill purchased the Englishman for £2.75million at the turn of this millennium for a Celtic side that went on to win the Scottish treble in 2001.
When speaking to the official Leeds United website regarding his retirement, ‘Thommo’ said:
“I've had a good career, but I've decided to call it a day,”
“The high point was playing for England, but I've got plenty of good memories.
“I'm going to take a bit of time out now, but I would like to stay involved in the game.”
Two Villan’s who will be largely be ignored when it comes to our clubs great history, however we should naturally be wishing Coxy and Thommo all the best for the future!