JA­COB WITHERS looks at the im­pact of Bris­tol City’s gi­ant cen­tre-back with the goalscor­ing touch…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Fo­cus on the Bris­tol City gi­ant

IN TH­ESE days of nut­megs, tiki taka and false nines, the value of a so-called ‘old fash­ioned’ cen­tre-back can of­ten be un­der­es­ti­mated by fans and the me­dia alike.

How­ever, in the case of Bris­tol City's 26year-old 6ft 6ins de­fender Aden Flint this is cer­tainly not the case.

At the risk of de­valu­ing him as a foot­baller, Flint is not renowned for strid­ing out of de­fence or play­ing de­ci­sive through balls but this has not stopped him be­com­ing a fans’ favourite or even an icon at Ash­ton Gate.

Known for his crunch­ing tack­les, aerial prow­ess and sur­pris­ingly un­canny eye for goal, Flint is mak­ing a name for him­self in the south-west and has very much been adopted as “one of our own”.

Flint started his ca­reer at Non-League Alfreton Town be­fore get­ting his chance in League foot­ball with League Two Swin­don.

He made 79 ap­pear­ances, scor­ing eight goals, and win­ning pro­mo­tion to League One be­fore mak­ing the move down the M4.

He strug­gled to make an im­pact in his first sea­son and Bris­tol City fans didn’t take long to start com­plain­ing of wasted in­vest­ment.

De­spite this tough start, Flint was seem­ingly in­stantly re­vived by the ar­rival of man­ager Steve Cot­ter­ill in 2014 and, fol­low­ing a change of for­ma­tion to 3-5-2, Flint never looked back.

A star player in Bris­tol City’s dou­ble-win­ning cam­paign in 2014/15, Flint was an ever-present as City stormed to the league ti­tle with 99 points and even man­aged to score a trade­mark header at Wem­b­ley in the JPT fi­nal against Wal­sall.

His threat to the op­po­si­tion from at­tack­ing sit­u­a­tions is noth­ing short of out­stand­ing.

Dur­ing City’s record-break­ing 2014/15, Flint racked up 15 goals. That in­cluded a fi­nal day hat-trick fea­tur­ing a stun­ning weak foot vol­ley and a ‘rabona’.

He’s not been as pro­lific this sea­son in the Cham­pi­onship, but has still pro­vided goals at cru­cial times, in­clud­ing a dou­ble against Ip­swich and a 94th-minute equaliser against Leeds at Ash­ton Gate.

Of course, scor­ing cru­cial goals and re­ply­ing with mild con­tempt when asked about for­mer team Swin­don gain­ing pro­mo­tion made Flint easy to love for City fans but gain­ing plau­dits from the wider pub­lic is not as eas­ily done.

Af­ter a shaky start to his first sea­son in the sec­ond tier, Flint has started to put in the sort of per­for­mances which saw him into the League One team of the year, and has es­tab­lished him­self as a very good Cham­pi­onship de­fender.

Re­cently linked with a move to Premier League West Brom for up to £2m as well as at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from var­i­ous ‘big’ Cham­pi­onship clubs, Flint’s suc­cess has not gone un­no­ticed although it has been ques­tioned as to whether his lim­i­ta­tions would be ex­ploited at the high­est level.

Like most tow­er­ing cen­tre-backs, Flint is not blessed with ex­treme pace and has been known to make the odd er­ror which may be ex­ploited more fre­quently in Eng­land’s top league.

Bris­tol City fans cer­tainly hope that this puts off po­ten­tial of­fers be­ing made for his ser­vices. Flint has de­vel­oped some­thing of a leg­end sta­tus around BS3 and the sup­port­ers hope he will stay at newly-de­vel­oped Ash­ton Gate for many years to come.

Sealed with a kiss: Cel­e­brat­ing with the League One tro­phy

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