NEVER GIVE UP

Ex-Crewe and New­port County de­fender Paul Big­not on his ca­reer

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

FROM the age of nine, I wanted to be­come only one thing and that was a foot­baller. I made my de­but at the age of 18 for Crewe Alexandra in the Car­ling Cup and beat Sun­der­land. The fol­low­ing week, I made my Cham­pi­onship de­but, beat­ing Rother­ham.

My best friend said: “You must feel on top of the world. First player in your age group to play in the first team and you’ve made your first pro ap­pear­ance.The only way is up.You must feel re­ally lucky?”

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we’ll see.”

I went on to make just short of 30 ap­pear­ances for Crewe in the Cham­pi­onship and League One and turned down my con­tract ex­ten­sion in search of week-in, week­out foot­ball at the age of 21.

My best friend said: “Are you sure about this? You have been there for nine years. This could end up be­ing the wrong choice.”

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we’ll see.”

I never got the League of­fer I was hold­ing out for and signed for Kid­der­min­ster Har­ri­ers in the Con­fer­ence Na­tional. Half­way through my se­cond year, I had my con­tract can­celled by mu­tual con­sent.

My best friend said: “What now? Things are not look­ing promis­ing...”

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we’ll see.”

I signed for New­port County in the Con­fer­ence South.We broke all kinds of records and were pro­moted to Con­fer­ence Na­tional. The fol­low­ing sea­son was great and I picked up ev­ery in­di­vid­ual player of the sea­son award, which cre­ated a lot of in­ter­est and spec­u­la­tion.

My best friend said: “Things are look­ing good, I’m hear­ing loads of ru­mours – you’re back on the up.”

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we’ll see.”

I was in­vited to Le­ices­ter City for a week and found my­self in the of­fice with Sven Go­ran Eriks­son, dis­cussing my price tag. The fol­low­ing week, I was play­ing for Black­pool – re­cently rel­e­gated from the Premier League – against Rangers. The same night, I got a call from My best friend said: “Yes! You’ve done it now – af­ter the ups and downs, you’re fi­nally go­ing to get your re­wards.”

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we’ll see.”

I signed for Black­pool, with New­port re­ceiv­ing a club record fee. My first sea­son, I was on the move again and found my­self out on loan at Ply­mouth Ar­gyle for six months in League Two. This was a great club and ex­pe­ri­ence for me. It earned me the chance the fol­low­ing sea­son to be in the se­lected, pre-sea­son squad for Black­pool in Por­tu­gal.

I then found my­self break­ing down with a groin in­jury. Back fit and play­ing in the re­serves, I was eye­ing up my route into the first team.

Then, in the last minute of a train­ing ses­sion, I went in for a block tackle. I found my­self need­ing an op­er­a­tion on my an­kle and I was out for seven months. Mean­while, the man­ager who signed me had left and three more man­agers were in charge in this short pe­riod. The new man­ager wanted to cut the squad down by half and had not seen me kick a ball. So, there was no new deal on the ta­ble for me.

My best friend said: “I did not see this com­ing. What would have hap­pened if you’d cho­sen Crys­tal Palace? What are you go­ing to do now? You can just about walk, let alone run. How are you go­ing to find a club? This could be the end of you.”

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we'll see.”

Af­ter non-stop train­ing by my­self and work­ing with a strength and con­di­tion­ing coach ev­ery other day, I was fit half way through pre­sea­son.

I was in­vited to Grimsby Town for the week and ended up spend­ing the next two sea­sons there. Af­ter two pro­mo­tion pushes for League Two, we could not quite get over the fin­ish line and my time was up.

My best friend said: “So close but so far away. A pro­mo­tion could have opened so many doors for you.”

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we’ll see.”

I found my­self on a plane head­ing to Ke­flavik in the Ice­landic Premier League for the last three months of their sea­son. The team was not in a good po­si­tion, but the thought of play­ing over­seas had al­ways in­ter­ested me and proved to be a great ex­pe­ri­ence on and off the pitch.

My best friend said: “That was a ran­dom move. I won­der if you’ll re­turn to Ice­land, or will it af­fect you play­ing back in Eng­land?”

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we’ll see.”

Re­turn­ing to Eng­land, I was now out of con­tract. I was ap­proached by a few clubs, ac­cepted one and played in a friendly for a team push­ing for pro­mo­tion. Things went well and I was of­fered a deal. Wait­ing to sign the deal, there was an­other twist. The staff came back and said the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion would not let the deal go through on a con­tract or non-con­tract ba­sis and I could not play foot­ball in Eng­land un­less it was below the Na­tional League – even though I was out of con­tract and not earn­ing money!

The rea­son be­ing, I was reg­is­tered in Ice­land in Au­gust. There­fore, I had to wait three months for the trans­fer win­dow to open in Jan­uary.

My best friend said: “Surely that’s not right. They’re stop­ping you from do­ing your job. It’s not like you’re on a Premier League salary and can af­ford to sit around do­ing noth­ing. You’ve been stitched up there”.

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we’ll see.”

I didn’t want to sit around and wait un­til Jan­uary, so I joined my brother’s team, Soli­hull Moors, in the Na­tional League North – and this story is still in progress.

My best friend said: “How does it feel play­ing for your brother? I bet it’s strange. Could you see your­self stop­ping there for the long term?”

I replied: “Maybe so, maybe not – we’ll see.”

The motto of the story is never give up on what you want to do. I could have quit at the first, se­cond, third or fourth hur­dle. Pain does ex­ist, but it does not last for­ever. Never look back once you have made your de­ci­sion and, from ev­ery dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion you go through, if you look deep enough there is an equiv­a­lent seed of suc­cess to come from it.

Now, hav­ing just turned 30, my smile shows my past and my heart shows my fu­ture. That way only I know what I’m plan­ning and, hope­fully, my best friend will stop ask­ing me so many ques­tions.

New­port, telling me they had re­ceived a bid from Crys­tal Palace and asked what I wanted to do. FOOT­BALL MERRY-GO-ROUND: Big­not’s trav­els have taken him to: 1. Crewe Alexandra, 2. Kid­der­min­ster Har­ri­ers, 3. New­port County, 4. Grimsby Town, 5. Black­pool, 6. Ice­land and, top, back home to Soli­hull Moors

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