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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Horsfield's remarkable rise
Geoff Horsfield scored for Birmingham in the play-off final
Horsfield joined Birmingham for 2.25m in 2000

We are currently in the Chinese year of the horse.

And for Birmingham City striker Geoff Horsfield - nickname 'The Horse'- 2002 is proving very successful year indeed.

The 28-year-old was named Birmingham's Player of the Year at the end of the regular season - a deserved reward for a campaign in which his dedication and commitment have epitomised his side's hard-working ethic.

Horsfield may not posses the most adept technique but his alliance of physical strength, gritty determination and a keen eye for goal has proved a winning formula.

His partnership with fleet-footed Trinidad & Tobago striker Stern John proved a key factor in Birmingham's 14-game unbeaten run that propelled the team into the Premiership.

Horsfield scored Birmingham's crucial equaliser in extra-time of the Division One play-off final against Norwich.

Horsfield left Fulham for Birmingham
Tigana branded Horsfield 'too aggressive'
And the Blues went on to win the penalty shoot-out, meaning Horsfield will be plying his trade in the Premiership for the first time next season.

All things considered, a successful few months for a player who served a lengthy apprenticeship in non-league football before getting his break in the 1998 Halifax team that won promotion to the Football League.

Horsfield was rejected by home-town club Barnsley, and was then released by Scarborough before ending up at Guiseley and Witton Albion.

He had started out at Athersley Recreation Club in the Barnsley and District Sunday League.

"I was 16 at the time and the other players in the team were all 25 or 26 - good working lads," said Horsfield.

"They enjoyed a drink and we would get two or three beer coupons for winning.

"I have to admit I used mine as well. That's when I started drinking.

"Playing for that club was a fantastic experience and it's amazing to think of the leagues I have played in since."

Bricklayer

He overcame a career-threatening knee injury at Witton and secured a 7,500 move to Conference club Halifax.

Horsfield continued to work as bricklayer but scored 29 goals as the Shaymen as won promotion to the league - and was soon signed by then-Fulham boss Kevin Keegan.

His captain for the final 10 games of the championship winning season at Halifax was Peter Jackson - who recalls that Horsfield was still far from a full-time player.

Horsfield was in the Halifax team that won promotion to the Football League
Horsfield was prolific at Halifax
"I turned up for a crucial evening match towards the end of the season," said Jackson.

"I had already eaten a light meal and was loosening up for the game.

"Geoff turned up straight from the building site, still wearing his work gear and with a Big Mac in his hand.

"But it didn't stop him scoring."

When Horsfield joined Birmingham in 2000 he was the club's record signing at 2.25m - a far cry from his non-league days.

But even though he will be in the Premiership next season he has not forgotten his roots.

Athersley Recreation Club currently change in a sports centre near their pitch.

But thanks to a donation of 25,000 from Horsfield the club will now be able to buy their own ground and develop their facilities.

Maybe next season the followers of Athersley Rec will be able to watch Horsfield taking on the cream of the Premiership from the clubhouse bought by the club's most famous ever player.

 VOTE RESULTS
Who will finish highest?

Birmingham
 11.61% 

Manchester City
 80.91% 

West Brom
 7.47% 

16819 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Division One

Division Two

Division Three

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