||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2013)|
|Full name||Paul Andrew Lake|
|Date of birth||28 October 1968|
|Place of birth||Manchester, England|
|Playing position||Defender, Midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Raised in the Denton area of Manchester, he attended St Thomas More School Denton. Lake was spotted by Manchester City scout Ken Barnes as a ten-year-old, playing against boys two or three years older. As he reached his teens he joined youth club Blue Star, who had strong links with Manchester City. Other clubs also showed interest in Lake, Manchester United inviting him on a tour of Spain. However, as a Manchester City fan Lake remained determined to play for the Blues, and signed a contract to become a Youth Training Scheme apprentice on 1 July 1985.
A member of Manchester City's FA Youth Cup winning side of 1986, Lake made his first-team debut on 24 January 1987 against Wimbledon. A versatile player, he made appearances in almost every outfield position, though midfield was generally regarded as his strongest position. Lake won six England under-21 and England B caps, the first coming in September 1988. Solid performances at this level led to many experts tipping him for a bright future in the England team, including Bobby Robson, the England coach of the time. However, a misfortune with serious injuries meant this was not to be. Installed as team captain at the centre of defence, a seemingly minor knee injury sustained near the start of the 1990/91 season following a challenge with Tony Cascarino was later diagnosed as a ruptured cruciate ligament, resulting in a two-year absence. At the start of the 1992/93 season Lake made his comeback playing in midfield for the inaugural Premiership campaign, his return described by Peter Reid as, "like having a brand new £3,000,000 signing." However, after eight minutes of his second game since returning (away at Middlesbrough), the ligament snapped again. After a long struggle with injury, including 14 operations and only four reserve team appearances, Lake retired from playing in 1996. Throughout his years of injury, Lake was a figure of footballing hope for many City fans. Whenever people saw a lack of skill in defence or midfield, fans could imagine it would be better when Lake was there shoring up the fort. But this was not to be, and City's great potential side, including Lake, Andy Hinchcliffe, David White and Colin Hendry, would never truly materialise.
Since retiring from playing, Lake has moved to the other side of the treatment table, becoming a physiotherapist. After studying physiotherapy at Salford University he had spells with Altrincham, Burnley and Oldham Athletic before Macclesfield Town, where he was the physiotherapist for five years. In November 2007 he joined the medical staff at Bolton Wanderers. Lake's brother Michael was also a professional footballer who played for Sheffield United.
Lake left Bolton midway through the 2008–09 season and ran his own physiotherapy practice in Greater Manchester until March 2010, when he was appointed Ambassador for Manchester City in the Community. Lake also presents Blue Tuesday, a Manchester City themed radio programme on BBC Radio Manchester, every Tuesday evening alongside Ian Cheeseman. His autobiography entitled "I'm Not Really Here" (a play on words on the popular Manchester City chant) detailing his struggle with injury.
Lake was inducted into the Manchester City Hall of Fame in 2004, an apt show of appreciation for his years of loyal service to the club. On 3 June 2013, it was announced that Lake would step down as City's ambassador to take up a similar role with the Premier League.
- James, Gary (2005). The Official Manchester City Hall of Fame. Hamlyn. pp. 58–66. ISBN 0-600-61282-1.
- Beard, Matthew (13 August 2003). "From much-injured rising star to physiotherapist". The Independent (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "City legend Paul Lake relishing life back in the top flight". Daily Mail (London). 30 November 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2008.
- "Former midfielder Lake to leave ambassador role at City after 30 years with the Blues". Daily Mail (London).
- James, Gary – Manchester – The Greatest City ISBN 1-899538-09-7