Chester FC fans of a certain age will have fond memories of Brian Croft, a winger who played almost 200 games in two spells with the club.
Blond-haired flyer Croft came through the schoolboy ranks with his hometown club and moved to Premier League club QPR for £60,000 in 1992.
Although his time in the capital didn’t work out as he would have hoped, Croft went on to play for clubs including Shrewsbury Town, Blackpool and Stockport County.
Before hanging up his boots, Croft had already started thinking about his future and – with support from the PFA – began carving out a new career.
“I was doing some youth development work for the PFA but at the same time I was studying the training and medical side down at Lilleshall,” said Croft, who lives in Huntington.
“I got my A Licence in coaching and a diploma in rehabilitation before going on and doing a post-graduate course.
“I’d was about 30 when I started to go down that route and the PFA were brilliant with the support they gave me.”
Croft remained in football, coaching the youth team at Stockport before rejoining Chester as football in the community officer in 1999.
Manager Ian Atkins registered Croft as a player the following season, although he didn’t make an appearance as the Blues dropped out of the Football League.
After relegation, Croft joined Macclesfield Town in a community football role but then moved away from the game.
“I started personal training and did some work supporting students but I was still educating myself,” he said.
“I completed a masters in personal training and I’m now studying for a masters in exercise and nutrition at the University of Chester.”
Croft has been working with tennis players, cyclists and golfers for the past few years but has now set up his own business – BC Sports Therapy and Performance Clinic.
“I’ve gained some great experience and I thought this was the right time to go it alone,” he said.
“I want to help people understand how they can get the best out of themselves and help them get the edge.
“I’m looking to work with individuals and clubs but I can also help people with back pain, sciatica and aches and pains.”
Croft has been trained to provide soft tissue treatment, sports massage, hot and cold therapy and performance analysis.
Although not currently working in football, Croft admits he would be interested in getting back into the game and continues to follow the Blues’ fortunes.
“I keep in touch with Jeff Banks and my heart is still in the club,” he said.
“I have been so impressed with the what the fans have done since 2010. It was very sad to see what happened to the old club but it’s great to see them back in the Conference.
“I would love to see them get back into the Football League because the whole city would be buzzing.”