Reading BBC sports piece this morning about Jake Buxton, I feel it only right to give you a very personal insight into the year I spent with him at Burton Albion. He was in my opinion the missing piece in a very good team that Nigel Clough had assembled. Tony James, Michael Simpson and myself had all signed the previous season but the capture of ‘Bucko’ was a stroke of genius. He was the missing piece and it proved vital and pivotal as we romped the league setting a then record 12 league wins in a row.
In his first pre-season training session he rocked up coming from a full-time club, Mansfield, expecting us part-time boys to be not as fit or not as competitive but he was blown away by the standard, but that was just how high the standard was set by the gaffer (Nigel Clough). I think it took him a little time to adjust to life in the conference premier but when he did find his feet and his form he was an absolute colossus player and a rock that so many wins were built around.
He is now on the verge of the Premier League as he leads his Derby County side out onto the Wembley turf against QPR and I count myself lucky to have played alongside him. I was living near him so we were travelling partners and I got to know the real ‘Bucko’. He is such a down to earth guy and a proud family man. I got to know his parents and his wife Danielle really well and I know how proud they will be of him. He has turned his career around from being released at Mansfield Town to now captaining a championship side on the verge of the greatest and most lucrative league in world football. He has given me great support and encouragement as I set up my football coaching school Academy-Links, even turning up to meet kids at one of our half term camps. That just sums up the kind of guy Jake is. He would do anything to help you out and I for one hope to see him climb the famous Wembley steps to promotion and lead his Derby side into the promised land of the Premier League.
Football is a strange game and every player if they are ever doubting their own ability should take a look at Jake Buxton. Being relegated and released by your home town club would devastate most but how Jake turned his football career around is amazing. Yes he got lucky by playing under Nigel Clough at Burton Albion and then going to Derby County with him but the cream will always rise to the top. People back in 2009 slated the signing of Jake Buxton to Derby County saying how could a conference centre half be good enough for a championship side. I always knew he was a bit special and he is a great example to everyone that sheer belief, hard work and dedication can get you all the way to fulfilling your every boy-hood dream.
Well done Bucko and good luck!!!