As much as there is such a thing as a typical footballer, he wasn't it. "Tom Youngs has got A Levels" chanted the Cambridge United fans about the young man who chose to appear in front of them rather than study law at Birmingham University. But in one way, he was very much an average footballer, plying his trade for ten years in Leagues One and Two, unable to deliver fully on early promise to reach the rarefied air of the Premier League or Championship. Any lingering disappointment over the premature fading of his career was brought into sharp perspective, though, when his attempts to continue in non-League were disrupted first by the discovery of advanced osteo-arthritis in his hips and then the more serious diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. This is his honest, frank account of both a life in the lower reaches of English football - detailing dressing room discomfort, contract controversies, mystifying manager meetings and much more - and the subsequent fears over the future for him and his family in the wake of his illness.
Growing up in Mildenhall, Suffolk, TOM YOUNGS started his football life in the youth section of his hometown team in 1988. Within a year he was picked up by the Cambridge United centre of excellence, starting a 13-year association with the Abbey Stadium-based club. Progressing through the ranks to the first team, Youngs appeared 182 times in the amber and black of United, scoring 48 goals to ensure his popularity on the terraces. Northampton Town paid GBP50,000 for his signature in 2003, but hampered by injuries he failed to prosper at Sixfields. Moves to Leyton Orient and Bury saw him unable to reproduce his Cambridge form regularly and the curtain came down on his professional career in 2007. Re-locating back home to Suffolk, he both played and became assistant manager at first club Mildenhall before injury and illness ended his time in football in 2014. Youngs now works for brewing and pub company Greene King, where he has enjoyed various roles in the finance team since 2010.