Ex-Ipswich Town star Gavin Johnson plans to carry on playing

GAVIN Johnson plans to carry on playing for as long as he can.

The 41-year-old ex-Ipswich Town and Colchester United player has no plans to retire yet.

After three seasons with Bury Town, which culminated in the club winning promotion to the Ryman League Premier Division, Johnson decided to step down as he did not feel he could compete at that level any longer.

Johnson joined Ridgeons League Premier Division Walsham-le-Willows, but after just one season was courted by Needham Market boss Danny Laws, and after taking up their offer has been pivotal to the club’s promotion challenge in Ryman League Division One North this season.

Johnson, whose vast experience has been deployed as a centre back, said: “They are a great set of people at Walsham and I thoroughly enjoyed it there.

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“But I got a call from Danny Laws last summer asking did I fancy coming and doing a job for him, and once I knew Needham were interested I decided to give it one more shot.

“At the time I didn’t think I would be able to play as much as I have done, but I have been pretty pleased with the way things have gone, although we had a sticky spell over Christmas and New Year when we conceded some sloppy goals.

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“I have only missed six games – two of those were because I was getting married – and I have twice missed a couple of games through injury.

“The standard the manager and players have set here means you can’t let yourself slip, you have to keep in good shape or you won’t be in the team.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have been lucky since I finished playing professional football to play for Bury Town, Walsham-le-Willows and now Needham Market – and if my body allows me to keep playing I will play for as long as I can.

“At the moment I certainly plan to carry on playing next year.”

Johnson remains grateful to the surgeon who operated on his broken leg for extending his playing career. He has continued playing as long as he has despite suffering cruciate injuries to both knees and breaking the same leg twice!

Johnson said: “It is only ten years ago that I broke my leg and the surgeon questioned how long I intended to continue to play.

“I told him I wished to carry on for a few years, so he decided to put a plate and screws in, and it proved to be a great decision as it has enabled me to continue my career.

“I broke my left leg when I was at Colchester United and six months later I broke it again, so I was out for around 15 months in total.

“It was ten years ago in September away at Port Vale. I had a collision in mid-air and I landed badly on it. Then I broke it again in training!

“I had a couple of more years at Colchester when Phil Parkinson was the manager there and then I moved on and had four more years in the professional game.

“So since the leg breaks I have had a further ten years playing football – and hopefully longer to come.”

It was earlier in his career that Johnson suffered cruciate injuries to both knees while with Ipswich Town.

“I Injured both knees more than 20 years ago. I was lucky that David Dandy, who was based in Cambridge, was one of the top surgeons in the world, and he successfully operated on both of them.

“It was not long before that if a player suffered a cruciate knee injury they had to retire.

“Injuries are part and parcel of the game. Some players are fortunate they don’t get many injuries, but I have had 20 years playing football full time and a further five years playing afterwards with hopefully more to come.”

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