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Last Updated: Friday, 3 November 2006, 12:56 GMT
Redfearn's millennium roam
By John May

Neil Redfearn is about to chalk up 1,000 games
Neil Redfearn's love of football still burns brightly
Neil Redfearn is doing his best to nail the adage that lust makes a man old but keeps a woman young.

As Redfearn prepares for his 1,000th competitive game, it is his love for the mistress he fell in love with years ago that keeps the 41-year-old forever youthful.

Redfearn's football travels rival those of Gulliver, and the latest stop in an odyssey that began as a 17-year-old at Bolton is at Bradford Park Avenue who operate in the Unibond League's Division One.

Redfearn will reach his milestone in the FA Trophy second round tie with Solihull and in between, he has played for 14 clubs, tasted ambrosia with the Premiership gods and eaten more humble fare with mere mortals further down the football staircase.

What keeps him going? "That's easy," Redfearn told BBC Sport, "I love playing football."

"It seems a long time ago since I made my debut as a 17-year-old with Bolton but I think I have enjoyed every game.

"I never lose sight of the fact that I have been privileged to be a professional footballer. But the enjoyment I get from playing has always been there and I think that might have prolonged my career."

REDFEARN'S TRAVELS
Bolton (1982-84)
Lincoln (84-86)
Doncaster (86-87)
Crystal Palace (87-89)
Watford (89-90)
Oldham (90-91)
Barnsley (91-98)
Charlton (98-99)
Bradford City (99-2000)
Wigan (2000-01)
Halifax (2001-02)
Boston (2002-04)
Rochdale (2004-04)
Scarborough (2004-06)

"If you treat it as just a job, you're not going to keep going. I just love playing, and that's why I'm still pulling my boots on."

It is hard to imagine too many of today's Premiership stars having a similar appetite to Redfearn in playing for the sheer joy of it.

"Perhaps the guys who play at a higher level feel there's a stigma attached to dropping down.

"I have nicked three or four goals for Bradford this season and although there were only 200-300 people there it still gives you the same buzz as it does when you're playing at the top."

Redfearn admits his three seasons in the Premiership with Barnsley, Charlton and Bradford were the highlights of his career.

"You always want to play at the highest level and for someone like me who spent most of his career in the division just below the top flight, it was fantastic rubbing shoulders with the big stars and the people you see on Match of the Day."

"I didn't realise the games were totting up and I think the 1,000 game mark is one for the statisticians.

Neil Redfearn and Paul Scholes
Redfearn loved rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paul Scholes

"At my age it's more a case of just being able to pull your boots on and take part."

Readfearn will also complete a nice circle by completing his millennium with Bradford as it was the club his father Brian played for.

"My dad began his career at Park Avenue in the days when they were a Football League club. In fact, Bradford City were the junior team in those days.

"I never saw him play for Bradford but a while ago he took me back to where the old ground was and it was quite sentimental."

For all his seniority, Redfearn is not a bitter old codger, and his love for the game at all levels remains undimmed.

"You hear a lot of older players say 'it's not as good as it was in my day' but that's rubbish.

"Things are improving all the time, the game is quicker and tactially and technically better than it was.

"I suppose I have been looked on as a father figure by younger players for some time but I think you have a responsibility as somebody lucky to have been a professional to give a little something back.

As long as I'm fit enough and there's someone to have me, I'll turn out

Neil Redfearn

"I've had a couple of darts at management at Halifax and Scarborough but they were dumped in my lap a little as I went to work as a coach for somebody else.

"But I've got all my coaching badges and the coaching side certainly appeals to me.

"I have gained plenty of experience down the years and I personally think it would be a shame if that sort of experience was lost to the game, but I also understand that there are only a certain number of jobs to go round."

Not that Redfearn has considered hammering the nail into the wall yet, let alone hanging his boots on it.

"I always said that when I wasn't deemed good enough to play professionally I would always play local football on Saturdays and Sunday mornings.

"If you love the game, you love the game, and as long as I'm fit enough and there's someone to have me, I'll turn out."

SEE ALSO
Boss Redfearn leaves Scarborough
06 Jul 06 |  Non League
Redfearn relishing new challenge
02 Nov 05 |  Scarborough
Redfearn just keeps rolling along
15 Nov 04 |  Scarborough


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