NATHAN CLARKE says there’s no player he’d rather succeed as Town’s longest-serving than Andy Booth.
Ironically, the strike star was out injured when the centre-back made his debut in the 1-1 draw at Stoke in September 2001.
But he’d already been a big influence on his fellow Town academy product, and has remained a source of inspiration and advice to Clarke and virtually every other player who has figured alongside him.
“Boothy’s not only a great footballer, but a great bloke as well, and I just wish he could carry on playing forever,” said the 26-year-old.
“I remember watching Boothy emerging as a top-quality player, and the fact that a local lad could make the first team and have so much success was an inspiration.
“It showed that Town were prepared to give the lads who came through the ranks a chance, and Boothy was always ready to offer friendship and advice.
“Playing alongside him has been brilliant, and while he’s not as mobile as he once was, he can still chase defenders down and remains superb in the air.
“I know from facing him in training sessions just how hard he is to deal with, and talking to opposing players re-inforces that view.
“He must be a nightmare to play against, but because of the type of bloke he is, he is very well respected.
“He’s a good honest professional and he never gives less than 100% – that’s what we all love about him.
“The players love having Boothy around the place and the supporters absolutely adore him.
“Because I’m selfish, I’d keep him on the books until he couldn’t jump any more, but I understand Boothy has to think about himself and his family.
“I’ll be sorry to see him hang up his boots, but it’s great that he has a new role that will keep him involved at the club.”