My 17-month exile was horrific, says Accrington Stanley new boy
HAVING played in Champions League victories over the likes of AC Milan and Manchester United, Accrington Stanley new boy Lee Naylor still finds it hard to explain how he went 17 months without a club.
Naylor clocked up more than 500 appearances at left back for Wolves, Celtic and Cardiff City, but it all came to a grinding halt in the summer of 2012 when his contract expired in south Wales.
Only 32 at the time, Naylor admits he was baffled that he could not secure a deal elsewhere.
A trial at Birmingham City came to nothing.
His long exile from football was finally ended when he signed an initial one-month contract with Stanley last Friday, then played 77 minutes in their League Two clash with Rochdale a day later.
“It was horrific,” he says of his spell out of the game.
“I know there are a lot of people unemployed but I’d never been without a club and to be without a club for 16 or 17 months watching the results coming in at the weekend, it’s not a nice feeling and I don’t want to get it again.
“It makes you realise what you’ve had. I’ve had a good career but to not have a club from the age of 32 was a bit weird, especially when I’ve always been fit and played over 500 games.
“It didn’t make sense to me at first what was actually going on.
“I couldn’t even get into anywhere to train at first, never mind play. It was weird, having played in the Champions League and stuff like that.
“But I try to look at positives and I got a good year of family time out of it. I had a new baby so I was a full-time dad!
“I never stopped working hard or training because at any point you can join a club. I trained with Wolverhampton Wanderers, my old club, and kept myself fit.”
Naylor has followed in the footsteps of his new manager, James Beattie, in joining Stanley after a spell out of football.
Beattie went six months without a club last year, while Francis Jeffers similarly had several months out of the game before having a spell with Stanley.
Naylor is grateful to Beattie for the chance to play football again and is now more focused on tomorrow’s trip to Plymouth than his Champions League days.
“Those memories will never be taken away from me, I’ve got that on the CV, but that’s in the past,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to playing games and getting back fit.
“I’ve known Beatts for a while and I want to help him out.
“I’ve signed for a month and we’ll see what happens.
“I’m here to help the team and I’m getting fit and getting games.
“There’s still a long way to go and nothing can prepare you for playing games. That’s what I need, I did well to last 70 minutes against Rochdale – my legs felt like jelly! But it was brilliant to get back into the swing of things.”
Comments are closed on this article.