LIS­BIE’S LOY­ALTY FINDS ITS RE­WARD

FO­CUS ON A STRIKER WHO STOOD BY

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By David Jor­dan

WHILE the fu­tures of some of the big­gest names in the Pre­mier League are played out across the back pages it is re­fresh­ing to hear one for­mer top-flight marks­man ad­mit money isn’t ev­ery­thing.

It is clos­ing in on a decade since Kevin Lis­bie struck a hat-trick for Charlton against Liver­pool but still the 34-year-old’s ser­vices are both cov­eted and ap­pre­ci­ated.

Only last Jan­uary, Sh­effield United, de­feated in the pre­vi­ous sea­son’s play-off fi­nal, pin­pointed Lis­bie as the man to sup­ply the goals re­quired to fi­nally break back out of League One.

The deal ap­peared a no-brainer – Lis­bie stood the chance to earn more money and po­ten­tially play out the twi­light of his ca­reer in Cham­pi­onship but in­stead he opted to stick with man­ager Rus­sell Slade at League One ri­vals Ley­ton Ori­ent.

In the end the Blades were turned over by sur­prise pack­age Yeovil in the play-offs and, while the new sea­son is in its in­fancy, it is Ori­ent who are look­ing far more likely to mir­ror the Glovers’ suc­cess come May.

With three goals in as many games Lis­bie is thriv­ing in an at­tack bol­stered by the ar­rivals of Shaun Batt, 26, and Yo­hann Lasi­mant, 23, and ad­mits he’s reap­ing the re­wards of stay­ing loyal – both on and off the pitch.

“I was very close to go­ing to Sh­effield United and it was just when I thought about the re­la­tion­ship that I have with the man­ager that I de­cided to stay,” said Lis­bie.

Older

“The gaffer pointed out that he un­der­stood me and that go­ing up to Sh­effield at this time in my ca­reer may not be the best thing, the man­ager there may not al­low me to do the things I can here.

“I train three days a week and the man­ager al­lows me to do what I need to do to look af­ter my­self, he’s re­ally good like that. My body won’t let me do the things that the likes of Shaun Batt can. I’m a lot older than those guys. That is ev­ery­thing to me at this stage in my ca­reer.

“The only rea­son I would have been go­ing there would have been for more money and that’s not the best rea­son to do some­thing.”

While money could not prise Lis­bie away from Bris­bane Road the striker is quick to dis­miss any sug­ges­tions that turn­ing down a move to one of League One’s big­gest clubs shows he is happy to coast into re­tire­ment.

“I don’t think it shows I lack am­bi­tion,” added Lis­bie, whose Ori­ent side fin­ished three points shy of a play-off place last sea­son.

“If I had turned down Sh­effield United and in­stead signed for Yeovil peo­ple would have said it was a lack of am­bi­tion – but look at who got pro­moted.

“If you look be­yond who we are as a club and ac­tu­ally look at the squad, we have some of the best play­ers in the league so we be­lieve we should be mak­ing the top six.

“Last sea­son we came so close and that was af­ter we had a re­ally bad start. When I first got here we had one point in Septem­ber and last sea­son we were around the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

“We’ve won our first three games this sea­son and I’ve scored a few goals as well so it is ex­actly what we wanted. We have the

same play­ers that we had here last sea­son. Af­ter turn­ing down Sh­effield United Lis­bie signed a new 18-month deal with Ori­ent and he wasn’t the only one to com­mit him­self to the club with Slade ex­tend­ing his con­tract through un­til 2016.

Fol­low­ing David Moyes’ sum­mer move to re­place the re­tir­ing Sir Alex Fer­gu­son at Manch­ester United, Slade is now sev­enth in the list of long­est-serv­ing man­agers in the English leagues to­day.

“There was talk about the gaffer go­ing so it helps the club and it helps the fans to know that he is go­ing to be with us for at least an­other two years,” added Lis­bie.

“He knows the lads so well and that re­ally helps, he knows how to han­dle ev­ery­one and that’s re­ally good for me.”

Vet­eran

While three full sea­sons in charge are enough for Slade to be classed as a mod­ern day vet­eran, Lis­bie’s own longevity is some­thing he is not yet con­tem­plat­ing.

The coun­try was just com­ing to terms with Charles and Diana’s di­vorce when Lis­bie made his Charlton de­but in Septem­ber 1996 but with the help of Slade the striker has no in­ten­tion of hang­ing up his boots any­time soon.

“The sign­ings in the sum­mer will help me,” added Lis­bie. “Last sea­son I got in­jured play­ing against Yeovil in the John­stone’s Paint Tro­phy and I missed two months. If we had more depth I wouldn’t have been play­ing in that game.

“Hav­ing three good strik­ers this sea­son will make a dif­fer­ence. I’m hop­ing I have a good few more years in me yet.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

STILL AM­BI­TIOUS: Ley­ton Ori­ent’s Kevin Lis­bie in ac­tion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.