Spalding United new boy Michael Leary is determined to help the Tulips’ young players in the same way his favourite player mentored him.
Leary, now 31, came through the ranks at Luton Town when they were in the old Second Division, these days known as the Championship.
Kevin Nicholls was one of their star players and he took a young Leary under his wing.
He had a big influence on fellow midfielder Leary, who made his debut against QPR and went on to play 22 matches for the Hatters.
“We played in the same position so we were chasing the same spot in the team,” recalls Leary.
“We had some good battles on the training ground but he was great for me and I hope I can help some of the young players at Spalding.
“We’ve signed some good players and have plenty of experience with the likes of Ian Ross joining so I am coming here looking for promotion next season, nothing less.”
Leary – who also played with the likes of Curtis Davies, Carlos Edwards, Emmerson Boyce, Leon Barnett and Steve Howard – went on to play 50 times for Barnet and 48 for Grimsby before joining Gainsborough, where he was skipper for the last two seasons.
Tulips boss Pat Rayment now has an exciting blend of talented young players and experienced quality campaigners .
Leary, Ian Ross and Gareth Jelleyman come into that latter category and all have experience of captaining their clubs, so Rayment has plenty of options when it comes to replacing departing skipper Jamie Stevens, who recently rejoined Holbeach.
Leary, who underwent an ankle operation last season, skippered Gainsborough to the semi-finals of the FA Trophy during his time there and they also reached the Conference North play-offs .
He added: “I like to think I did a good job at Gainsborough but it was time to move on.
“I was offered a contract by Grantham but Spalding seems to be an up-and-coming club and I want to be part of it.
“Chris Hall and Mark Jones are former Gainsborough players who have done well at Spalding and I spoke to Mark before I agreed to join.
“I like to boss the midfield but there are some good midfielders at the club which will keep the pressure on everyone, and that is just how I like it.”