In modern football there are few examples of one club stars but at Swindon we have, potentially, someone who could fit that bill. Skipper Nathan Thompson has just made his 150th start for The Robins, The game in which he achieved the feat is under debate, the ever reliable Swindon-Town-fc.co.uk have it as being our recent home game against Northampton, but a club official says it was the defeat to Oxford.
The title would suggest a comparison to Chelsea Captain John Terry, but I prefer a more direct comparison to Gary Neville. A right back turned centre back who became club captain aged 30 and was part of a successful era during which his younger brother also played for the club and went on to leave.
Chester born Thompson has always been highly rated by fans and staff at SN1. Prior to his maiden first team appearance Town legend and former youth team coach Paul Bodin described Thompson as unflappable. He had also been linked to much bigger clubs like Arsenal, Everton and Newcastle before he made his debut. During his time in the youth team the side won the Youth Alliance South West Division and he went onto make his first team debut in October 2010 replacing Scott Cuthbert in a JPT game v Exeter. Thompson finally signed professional terms in May 2011.
One man who always knew how good Nathan would be is Jerel Ifil who said “Nathan was always a good young pro and you could see he had the right attitude to take him far. The fact he became captain shows what loyalty and a good attitude can do. It’s very hard to come by those qualities combined in an individual so Swindon are lucky to have such a player.”
Thompson would gain more regular first team football under Paolo Di Canio. His next landmark was the first time he wore the captain’s armband. His first taste of it was during the 13/14 season during a game in which Darren Ward (the regular skipper) was substituted. Captain Thompson would be made official Club Captain by Mark Cooper during the 2014-15
Captain Thompson continued to mature and develop, although it is fair to see injuries have cost him time.
Perhaps overlooked by those away from Swindon, Thompson is never really linked with a move away (barring Leeds in the summer just gone) and no International recognition either unlike his brother Louis who has represented Wales at under-19 and under-21 level. A measure of his mental strength though we have never him complain about this and he continues to show pride in his younger sibling as he gets more involved with the Norwich first team. There were memorable scenes when Nathan ran the length of the pitch to celebrate with his Carrow Road bound brother after his goal v Sheffield United in March 2014.
One word that best describes Nathan is passion. His style of play is full bodied and the fans love it, although understandably that can get him trouble from time to time. Arguably however, the most iconic image of recent times at The County Ground is of Nathan celebrating a 1-0 win over Bristol City in front of their supporters, a move that will forever endear him to the Town faithful. This is an element of him regardless of his discipline record we do not want to lose. Referring back to my original comparison, it reminded me of when Gary Neville celebrated in front of the Liverpool fans in 2006 when Rio Ferdinand scored a late winner.
His commitment to the cause was most evident during the 14/15 season when he suffered a grade 2, 8cm tear injury and went through intensive treatment including injections and oxygen therapy to get fit for the Playoff Final against Preston, only for him to be stretchered off after his leg gave way as Beckford scored his first on that ill-fated afternoon.
So I would like to offer Nathan, the two time Adver player of the season (only the third player to retain the accolade), a massive congrats on the latest milestone and here’s too many more. Captain and Leader without a doubt – legend, that continues to grow.
NATHAN THOMPSON, HE’S ONE FO OUR OWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Photos taken from TotalSwindonSport.com, Swindonadvertiser.co.uk and thewashbag.com.