Barnsley FC – Neil Redfearn, A Midfield General

Arguably Barnsley's most influential and talented footballer, Neil Redfearn was instrumental in helping the Tykes achieve promotion to the English Premier League in 1997.

Redfearn's career stretched from 1982 to 2008, he played 851 games and scored 176 goals. He started is long career at Bolton Wanderers but it was a move from Oldham Athletic to Barnsley in 1991 that catapulted him to new heights. Redfearn had a great match day engine and having all the required activities of a good quality midfielder he was given the club captaincy as well as becoming the regular penalty taker for the club. In an era where drinking was not discouraged and an athletes diet was not as strict as it is today, Redfearn rarely missed a game through injury or illness.

Sat in the second tier of English football, manager Danny Wilson began to assemble a Barnsley team that was able to challenge for a place in English football's holy grail, the Premier League. Clint Marcelle, Andy Liddell, Paul Wilkinson, Matty Appelby and John Hendrie all came into Wilson's side in the search for promotion.

In the 1996/97 season Redfearn as ever lead by example. His superb attitude on and off the field was accredited by everyone associated with the club. Barnsley got off to a terrific start to the season winning their first five games. The Tykes would only win one of their next eight drawing five and losing two. The Midfield-General was setting his standards high on the pitch, talking with his feet he had already scored eight league goals going into the middle of November.

A double winning season over rivals Sheffield United and a 2-0 home win against Manchester City helped Wilson's men secure second place and automatic promotion to the Premier League. It was Redfearn's and Barnsley's finest hour. The club captain missed just one game all season and scored 17 goals, he was a club hero.

The Premier League was not a success for the Tykes, relegation lead to the departure of Wilson to rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Redfearn left for £ 1 million to Chartlton Athletic. Redfearn scored a brace in a controversialial 3-2 home defeat to Liverpool. He showed that he had the ability to play in the top tier of English football.

In what was a colorful career, Redfearn was a superb servant to the game. He knew where the back of the net was. There are plenty of managers up and down the country that would love to have a player of Redfearn's ability, commitment and professionalism along their ranks today.

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