|Date of birth||17 February 1974|
|Place of birth||Burton upon Trent, England|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Playing position||Left Back|
|2002||→ Wigan Athletic (loan)||7||(0)|
|2002||→ Cardiff City (loan)||8||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Gary Croft (born 17 February 1974) is an English former professional footballer who initially played as a left back from 1992 until 2008, as well as briefly coming out of retirement in 2015.
He notably played for Grimsby Town, Blackburn Rovers and Ipswich Town, having also had spells with Wigan Athletic, Cardiff City, Lincoln City and Grimsby Borough. He was the first footballer to play in the Football League whilst wearing an electronic tag, when playing for Ipswich Town. Croft made his England under-21s debut against Brazil under-21s on 6 June 1995. David Beckham also made his debut in the same match.
Gary Croft graduated from the Grimsby Town youth setup in 1992, and was handed his first team debut by Alan Buckley shortly afterwards. Croft started as a left-back, but also filled in as a makeshift right back in John McDermott's absence, as well as also being known to cover central midfield, left midfield, right midfield and even as a support striker. Croft became an integral part of the Blundell Park setup and was one of a number of successful professional footballers in the mid nineties who came from the club, others included the likes of Jack Lester, Danny Butterfield and John Oster. His performances in the second tier of English football had attracted interest for a number of Premier League teams. His versatility and composure on the ball led to interest from Blackburn Rovers in 1996 who had won the Premier League title in the previous season.
Croft transferred to Blackburn for £1.6 million in 1996, brought to the club by Ray Harford, but although not usually a regular for the Rovers he would feature more under Roy Hodgson. Croft made over 50 appearances for the club and played Premier League football for them until he made a move to Ipswich Town in 1999. He scored his only goal for the club in a 1-0 win over Chelsea in November 1997.
Croft moved to Ipswich Town in 1999 and scored on his debut against Manchester City. Croft helped Ipswich return to the Premiership in 2000, and was a first team regular in the side managed by George Burley. It was while at Ipswich that Croft became the first footballer to play whilst wearing an electronic tag. Injury problems hampered the second half of Croft's time at Ipswich and after a loan spell with Wigan Athletic he was released.
Following his release from Portman Road, Croft moved to Wales and signed for Cardiff City. However, following more injury woe, Croft was sidelined for the majority of his stay at Ninian Park and, following his team's rise up the league table, he was deemed surplus to requirements and was released at the end of the 2004/2005 season.
Return to Grimsby Town
In July 2005, Croft made a return to his first club Grimsby Town joining first on trial, and then two weeks later signing on a permanent basis. He struggled to break into the Grimsby side in his preferred position of left back due to the good performances of Tom Newey, but, due to an injury to veteran John McDermott, Croft played the majority of his first season at right back under Russell Slade. After two seasons at Grimsby, Croft was released by new manager Alan Buckley acrimony between the two, with the local press running an interview with Croft, but Buckley denying there had been any problems.
In a surprise move Croft's next port of call, was Lincoln City following a trial with Burton Albion. Croft was released after twelve months at Sincil Bank after suffering further injuries and receiving several red cards.
In June 2008 he was reported to be in discussions with Hucknall Town, with a move to the US to play in the National Soccer League also mooted. Neither options came to fruition and Croft retired from the game. He went on to obtain his UEFA coaches badges, has also joined the Compass FM commentary team as expert summariser for Grimsby Town's matches, and continues to be involved with a local Grimsby/Cleethorpes area Estate Agent that he and relatives founded around the time of his second Mariners spell.
- Football League Division Two play-off winner: 1
- Football League Two Play-off runner-up: 1
- Supporters Player of the Year: 1
- Supporters Young Player of the Year: 1
- 1993, 1994, 1995
- First Division playoff winner: 1
- Gary Croft profile Ipswich Town Talk
- Gary Croft at Soccerbase
- Lincoln City F.C. Official Archive Profile
- Unofficial Gary Croft Profile at The Forgotten Imp
- "Football first for tagged player". BBC News. 15 January 2000. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- England – U-21 International Results 1986–1995 – Details Archived 25 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- "Blackburn beat the Blues". BBC. 22 November 1997. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Croft caps promising debut with goal that sinks City". The Independent. 27 September 1999. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Croft returns to Blundell Park". BBC Sport. 5 August 2005. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
- "Focusing On: Gary Croft – News – Grimsby Borough F.C." www.pitchero.com.
- "News Article".
- "News Article".
- "Crofty joins the team". Grimsby Town F.C. Official Website. 8 October 2008. Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2008.