Neil Redfearn

Premier League Career: Barnsley (1997-1998), Charlton Athletic (1998-1999), Bradford City (1999-2000)

In a playing career that spanned an amazing 24 years, Neil Redfearn made 790 appearances in the Football League which is the fifth highest of all-time. He also got the opportunity to feature in three Premier League campaigns for three different teams and has also experienced a taste of management, albeit not too successfully for either Rotherham United or Leeds United.

Redfearn began his career with Bolton Wanderers in 1982. It would take another 15 years before he managed to reach the limelight of Premier League football. During this time, he would play for Lincoln City, Doncaster Rovers, Crystal Palace, Watford and Oldham Athletic. The main highlight of his first decade playing was helping Oldham reach the top-flight of English football in 1991. However, the signing of Mike Milligan from Everton meant he was deemed surplus to requirements by the Latics management and he would sign for Barnsley that summer.

Seven seasons at Oakwell would follow, during which he became the club’s regular penalty-taker and captain. In 1996-1997, Barnsley surprised pretty much everyone by reaching the Premier League, finishing second behind Bolton Wanderers and earning promotion. Redfearn was the key figure that season, contributing with 17 goals.

His position in Barnsley folklore was secured when after nine minutes of their opening match in the Premier League; he headed home their first goal at this level against West Ham United. West Ham recovered to win the match 2-1 but Redfearn made an impressive impact on the top-flight. Days later, it was his long-range strike from distance that secured the Tykes first-ever victory in the Premier League away at Crystal Palace. Redfearn finished with an impressive 10 goals and only missed one match in the entire campaign. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep Barnsley in the division. This made him a wanted man and he would move on from Yorkshire in the summer of 1998.

Newly-promoted Charlton Athletic paid £1 million for Redfearn’s services, as he ended his Barnsley career with 84 goals in 338 matches. He scored three times in 30 games but as his family struggled to settle in London, his stay at The Valley would be restricted to just a single season. He returned to his native Yorkshire and joined another newly-promoted team in Bradford City a year later. He struggled at Valley Parade, scoring just once against Leicester City before going on the move again, this time to Wigan Athletic. He ended his playing career in the non-league in 2008 with Salford City.

Management has been less successful, winning just 16 league matches combined with Leeds and Rotherham. He was out of work from February 2016 until December 2017 when he became manager of Women’s Super League Two side Doncaster Rovers Belles.

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