A new path for Dean Windass

Dean Windass followed in the footsteps of Bradford City legends Chris Kamara, Paul Jewell and Peter Beagrie at Sheffield Wednesday last night, when reporting on one of his former club’s 2-1 defeat to Preston for Sky Sports News. Carrying out the usual format of hopping from ground to ground to keep tabs on the latest scores, the programme kept handing over to a slightly nervous-looking Windass, who tripped up a couple of times but generally tried to do his best Kamara impression in relaying the excitement of the Championship fixture. Nice work for a retired man.

His playing career is now over, after almost ending in the most fairytale of manners. It’s less than 18 months since Windass fired home a stunning volley for Hull City at Wembley, elevating his home town club to top flight status for the first time in its history. The former brick layer who was once rejected by the Tigers, then awarded a second chance and quickly became a cult hero. Deano moved onto to bigger things, playing in the top division for Aberdeen, Bradford City and Middlesborough, before one day returning to his first love to inspire them to new heights.

Had he known what was to come next, Windass might very well have retired upon the final whistle at Wembley. It was always hard to believe he’d be able to cut it in the Premier League again, now approaching 40, although the lack of first team chances he received during the first half of Hull’s debut top flight season was a surprise. He was then the victim of Phil Brown’s ego self-preservation, publicly taking the rap when the manager chose to berate his players on the pitch at half time of the Tiger’s eventual 5-1 mauling at Man City. Loaned to Oldham where it seemed certain he’d do well, his arrival coincided with a play off bid collapse and disastrous team bust ups that while not named as the cause of was nevertheless associated with Deano’s influence. He ended the season not allowed to play for Oldham or Hull, with Brown ordering him not to come back to the KC.

Taking the first steps of management this summer after new Darlington boss Colin Todd appointed his former player as his number two, the new chapter was beginning before the playing chapter had quite concluded. A few weeks later and after a dreadful start for the Quakers, he and Todd were gone. Despite earlier in the season claiming he wanted to keep playing until 2011, the boots have now been hung up. 

Windass has already confirmed he’s applied for the vacant Grimsby job, though a question mark remains over whether any club chairman would give him such an opportunity. Often compared to Gazza in terms of personality, he will have his work cut out convincing would-be employers that he has the maturity to handle matters such as playing budgets. His infamous bust up with Neil Warnock at Sheff United, when he was dropped for the play off final, also throws up questions about how well he’d be able to manage his own players reacting in such ways.

Hopefully someone will give him a chance though, as his obvious enthusiasm for football would be a great loss to the sport. Surely he can still contribute more to it than patiently waiting for Jeff Stelling to utter the words “and now over to Dean Windass.”