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