HE was there for its inception, as a Blackburn Rovers player, and he was there for the closure of its latest chapter, as manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

Over the past 22 years Tim Sherwood has seen the Premier League grow beyond all comprehension.

It is now the biggest and richest football league on the planet.

A league whose top clubs are run by billionaires drawn from all corners of the globe.

The days of Jack Walker, the local boy made good whose vision and wealth transformed his beloved Rovers from Division Two strugglers to top-flight champions in little over four years, appear to be consigned to the past.


And for Sherwood – Walker’s title-winning skipper in the unforgettable 1994-95 campaign – that is unquestionably a bad thing for English football.

“I don’t think there’ll ever be another Jack Walker,” said Sherwood, who recently turned down the chance to return to management with West Brom after leaving Tottenham at the end of last season.

“Because I don’t even think Jack Walker would be rich enough to run a football club these days.

“And that’s a good indication of how the game has actually moved on since those days – and not for the better in my eyes.

“I think it’s moved on for the worse.

“It’s different now. Football clubs have changed and we have owners who are not really fans.

“Jack was the owner but he was a fan first. We realised that and we won it for Jack.”

Sherwood, of course, is speaking of the Premiership crown Rovers thrillingly claimed in 1995.

If only for one season Manchester United were well and truly knocked off their perch as Sherwood and his team-mates, led by the managerial genius of Kenny Dalglish, restored the Ewood Park outfit to the summit of English football for the first time in 81 years.

But with the 20th anniversary of the remarkable title triumph fast approaching, the captain of the famous side is quick to point out it would not have been possible without one man.

“Jack Walker needs to take all the credit,” said Sherwood, who arrived at Rovers in February 1992 in a £500,000 move from Norwich City and went on to make 300 appearances for the club, scoring 32 goals, before leaving for Tottenham in February 1999.

“He was the man who built the club with his finances and we all recognised that.

“He was one of the boys and he had the utmost respect of all the players.

“Because he didn’t try to be anyone other than himself, it was very easy for the boys to buy into him. He was just himself.”

“He used to go into the dressing room before games and after games and he never ever tried to tried to tell us about football or what we should be doing.

“He’d have his opinion, of course, but he knew Kenny was there to do a job.

“That’s what he had brought him into do and that’s what he let him get on with to do.

“He was a great man, you want to win it for people like him, and I’m so glad we did.”