Few football careers can have been more varied than that of Stockport jack-of-all-trades Paul Warhurst.
For two decades he played as a defender, midfielder and striker at the highest level for no less than 16 clubs after signing professional forms for Manchester City in 1987.
Warhurst turned out for Oldham Athletic and Bolton Wanderers as well as being part of the Blackburn Rovers squad that beat all-comers to claim the 1995 Premier League crown.
He was involved in three cup finals and helped Bolton win promotion to the Premier League under manager Sam Allardyce in 2001.
Born in Stockport in September 1969, Warhurst played youth football for Manchester City before making his way into manager Mel Machin’s first team squad in 1988.
After missing out on a starting spot for the season, Warhurst joined neighbours Oldham Athletic for a transfer fee of £10,000.
He quickly became part of first team, memorably helping the side reach the semi-finals of the 1990 FA Cup and the final of the League Cup the same year.
Oldham faced Manchester United at Maine Road in the FA Cup semi-final on April 8th. The match ended in a hard-fought 3-3 draw after extra time with the Red Devils winning the replay, also at Maine road, 2-1.
The Latics lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest in the League Cup final, again at Wembley, after defeating West Ham 6-3 on aggregate in a high-scoring semi-final. Manager Joe Royle and his team returned to a heroes’ welcome.
Warhurst made 86 appearances for the Latics as a defender, scoring twice, before moving to Sheffield Wednesday in 1991 for a transfer fee of £750,000. Here he would find a different role.
Injuries to forwards David Hirst and Mark Bright meant Warhurst was asked to play as a striker – with extraordinary results.
He scored 12 goals in 12 games, even forcing his way into the reckoning for the national team! Unfortunately an injury robbed him of a first senior cap to add to his eight appearances for England at Under 21 level.
When Hirst had fully recovered, Warhurst found himself back on defensive duties. There were disagreements with manager Trevor Francis and Warhurst signed for Blackburn Rovers for £2.7 million in the summer of 1993.
Warhurst had scored 18 goals in 88 games for Wednesday and played in two Wembley cup finals in one year in 1993.
He was a striker when Wednesday lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the League Cup final and a centre back in the FA Cup final defeat against the same opponents by the same score in a replay.
At Blackburn, Warhurst moved to midfield with England internationals Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton in attack. Colin Hendry and Graeme le Saux were in defence.
Our photo shows Warhurst battling for the ball with Russian winger Andrei Kanchelskis during the Premier League match against Manchester United at Ewood Park.
The Red Devils won 4-2, but it was a momentary setback as Blackburn swept to the Premier League title with 89 points – one point ahead of second-placed Manchester United on 88.
Blackburn were unable to hold their form in subsequent seasons. The Red Devils were league champions in 1996 with Rovers seventh. In 1997, Blackburn were 13th.
Warhurst left the club in the summer of 1997 after making 57 league appearances and scoring four goals. His next port of call was Crystal Palace.
After a season which saw Palace relegated, Warhurst joined second tier Bolton for £800,000 in January 1999 after a successful loan spell.
The Trotters were promoted to the Premier League in the 2000-1 season after finishing third. They beat West Bromwich Albion 5-2 in the play-off semi-final and then Preston North End 3-0 in the final at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
Manager Sam Allardyce then strengthened his squad for the Premier League, particularly the midfield, with players like French World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff arriving at the Reebok Stadium.
After making 91 league appearances for Bolton, Warhurst was on his way again in 2003 – this time to Chesterfield.
In the space of four years, Warhurst then played for Barnsley, Carlisle United, Grimsby Town, Blackpool, Forest Green Rovers, Wrexham, Barnet and Northwich Victoria.
At Grimsby, Warhurst underlined his versatility by taking the field as a centre back, midfielder and forward in the space of seven league games!
Warhurst was briefly caretaker manager at Cheshire club Northwich when Neil Redfearn resigned. He has since retired from football.
*Unmissable images of Manchester and the North West feature in Clive Hardy’s latest hardback book, The Home Front – Britain 1939-45. It’s on sale at £14.99 including UK postage and packing.
Just go to inostalgia.co.uk/shop to order your copy or call the order hotline on 01928 503777. And remember – buy three books and get 25 per cent off!