Geoff Thomas (footballer, born 1964)
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Thomas in 2007
|Full name||Geoffrey Thomas|
|Date of birth||5 August 1964|
|Place of birth||Manchester, England|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Geoffrey Robert Thomas born Manchester, England (born 5 August 1964) is an English former footballer, who won nine caps for the full England team and captained Crystal Palace to the FA Cup final in 1990. He is the Founder of the Geoff Thomas Foundation, a charity that raises funds to fight cancer, a disease from which Thomas has suffered.
Thomas was plucked from relative obscurity by Crewe Alexandra and, under the guidance of manager Dario Gradi, was moulded into an England International. However, the real challenge of Thomas' life came when his career had ended, with a fight against leukaemia.
After playing non-league football in his teenage years, Thomas gambled on a career in professional football in 1982 by taking a pay cut from his job as an electrician, to sign full-time with Rochdale in 1982. He was by no means a regular at Spotland, however, and in the two seasons he spent at Rochdale he made only 12 appearances, scoring just once. Thomas was still something of an unknown quantity when Gradi signed him on a free transfer in March 1984, but he was quickly to become a favourite at Gresty Road.
After three substitute appearances, Thomas made his full debut on 28 April 1984 in a 3–0 home win over Tranmere Rovers, and marked the occasion with his first goal for the club. A tough-tackling player, who could operate in central midfield or out on the right, Thomas proved to be the backbone of Dario Gradi's teams during his early tenure at the club, with Crewe finishing mid-table in the old Fourth Division.
He was to spend two-and-a-half seasons at Gresty Road, playing 137 times for the club, during which time his midfield displays attracted attention from a host of clubs. He finally decided to move to Crystal Palace in June 1987, when Steve Coppell paid £50,000 for his services, and his career continued to flourish.
Thomas made an immediate impact at Selhurst Park, collecting the Supporters’ Player-of-the-Season award in his first season, and helping his side to promotion to the top flight in his second year at the club.
His third year at Palace was even better, as Thomas enjoyed top-flight football for the first team, and captained the side in the 1990 FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, where they drew 3–3 with Manchester United, before losing in a replay.
Perhaps the crowning glory of his career was the 1990–91 season, when he was a crucial member of the Palace squad who finished in third place in the top flight. It was the club's best ever finishing position, and Thomas was rewarded again with the Supporters` Player-of-the-Year trophy.
In May 1991, he was handed his first England cap when he was picked by Graham Taylor in a European Championship Qualifying game against Turkey in Izmir.
His Palace career eventually ended in June 1993, six years and 249 appearances after first arriving from Crewe, when Palace were relegated from the Premier League, and he was signed for £800,000 by Wolverhampton Wanderers by Graham Turner.
Sadly, injury was about to blight Thomas' career, and frustrating times where to follow. He made just two appearances in his first season at Molineux, and made a total of just 54 appearances in the four seasons he spent in the Black Country, before his release on a free transfer in 1997.
Injuries also hampered his spells at Nottingham Forest (27 appearances in two seasons), and Barnsley (where he was mostly used as a substitute), and he struggled to get a run of games in the side. He also had a brief stint with Notts County at the end of the 2000–01 season, scoring once against Wrexham, before returning to Crewe Alexandra where he made his final seventeen appearances as a professional footballer. His return to Crewe was hampered by injuries and he could not stop them losing their Championship status at the end of the season, despite scoring twice against West Brom and Grimsby Town. His final ever appearance as a professional came in the FA Cup against Rotherham United on 26 January 2002, a game in which he fittingly scored.
Diagnosis of leukaemia
In June 2003, after a year in retirement, Thomas revealed he had been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia, from which he later recovered. He won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award in 2005, after he raised over £150,000 for the Leukaemia Research charity by cycling 2,200 miles in 21 days, completing the route of all 21 stages of the 2005 Tour de France a few days ahead of the race itself.
In 2005, he was voted in Palace's Centenary XI, and was then given a Special Achievement Award for his services to the club as captain in 2008.
In 2007, Thomas announced his intention to ride the Tour de France route again.
In 2008, he published a biography, Riding Through The Storm
In 2014 Geoff Thomas returned to Birmingham-based blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia to help them raise £2million in two years. As Patron of the charity he will be riding in two cycling events in 2015.
In June 2015 he will lead a team of 300 riders including Mark Bright, John Salako, George Lineker, Ian Wright, Aidy Boothroyd and Jill Douglas from London 2 Paris.
In July 2015 Geoff will complete all 21 stages of the Tour de France route, one day ahead of the race itself. His aim is to raise £1million from this event, a figure that one leveraged by Cure Leukaemia's model would be worth £10million in potentially life-saving drugs for blood cancer patients. www.beforethetour.com
More information on Cure Leukaemia can be found here: www.cureleukaemia.co.uk
- "Wrexham 1–1 Notts County". BBC. 11 April 2001. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
- "Crewe 1–1 West Brom". BBC. 15 December 2001. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- "Crewe 2–0 Grimsby". BBC. 19 January 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- "Crewe railroad Rotherham". BBC. 26 January 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- "Leukaemia battle for Thomas". BBC Sport. 24 July 2003. Retrieved 3 February 2007.
- "Thomas takes on Le Tour". BBC Sport. 14 April 2005. Retrieved 3 February 2007.
- "Geoff's latest bold Gallic goal". BBC Sport. 2 February 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2007.
- Geoff Thomas: Riding Through The Storm: My Fight Back to Fitness on the Tour de France: Publishers Orion (12 June 2008) ISBN 0-7528-9343-2 ISBN 978-0-7528-9343-3
|Crystal Palace captain