Spireites legend has Tommy Lee revealed when the ‘penny dropped’ for him on the responsibilities a footballer has to his club’s fans.
The goalkeeper, forced to retire last season after post-surgery shoulder problems, was speaking at his testimonial dinner at the Proact.
Lee, still only 32, was joined at the top table by ex Spireites Ritchie Humphreys, Phil Picken, Gregor Robertson, Mark Allott and Aaron Downes.
The five footballers revealed some amusing tales from their past associations with Lee, but also to a man spoke of his professionalism in the changing room and decency as a person away from the game.
Lee himself took the opportunity to express his gratitude to supporters for making his 10-year spell as a Town player so enjoyable, and shared the limelight with the loved ones who helped him get to where he did as a player.
The stopper, who won the League Two title twice as a Spireite, told the audience the club’s final game at Saltergate taught him a valuable lesson about his job.
“That was when the penny really dropped for me, that it wasn’t just about me, about getting paid and having money to go on holiday every summer,” he said.
“That game was probably the first time in my career I realised that being a professional footballer should and has to mean mean more than that, you have a responsibility to the fans of the club you play for.
“You’re given a privileged opportunity to represent them on the pitch.
“The passion I saw from them in that last game at Saltergate opened my eyes to that aspect of the game.
“There’s nothing wrong with earning money from the game, even if that’s a players priority but recognising the responsibility you have to the fans and trying to mirror their commitment in your performance is the very least you can do.”
An impromptu auction for a coaching session with Lee raised an impressive £1,300 for Ashgate Hospice, after some of the charity’s ‘Sparkle Walkers’ dropped in on the testimonial dinner before their fundraising walk.
Lee’s testimonial match will take place on 25th July at the Proact when Town host Wigan Athletic, managed by former Spireites boss Paul Cook.
It is hoped ex Chesterfield players Am Morsy and Gary Roberts will both be on show.
And it is likely that Lee will play some part in the fixture.