Maidstone United’s World Cup footballer Ian Cox

As we leave 2021 and reflect on a year which saw England bow out of the European Championships at the last hurdle by one of the most devastating penalty shoot outs ever, the realisation dawns upon us that we will experience these euphoric tournament emotions all over again with the World Cup taking place this November.

 

31 million people watched the Euro final last year across BBC and ITV and whilst the majority of those may have been heart-broken and still to this current day may wonder just ‘how did we lose it’, we have to dust ourselves off and prepare ourselves for the grand stage this winter.

 

CommunityAd can’t help but get excited for World Cup fever and, by doing so, delve into the history of former Maidstone United centre back Ian Cox who was part of the Trinidad and Tobago national team that reached the 2006 World Cup.

 

Born on 25th March 1971 in Croydon, Cox would start his youth career with Carshalton Athletic before signing for Crystal Palace for a fee of £40,000 in 1994. Cox would unfortunately find his opportunities limited at Selhurst Park, registering just 15 appearances over 2 years before signing for Mel Machin’s AFC Bournemouth in 1996.

 

It was with The Cherries where Ian solidified himself as a no-nonsense defender, with Machin converting him from midfield, becoming a cult hero at Dean Court (now known as the Vitality Stadium).

 

In his first full season at Bournemouth, Cox was awarded supporters’ player of the year, captaining the side and playing over 170 games during a four-year period of which highlights include finishing runners-up in the 1997-98 Football League Trophy as well as striking up one of the club’s best defensive partnerships alongside a fresh-faced teenager named Eddie Howe.

 

Ian Cox’s time on the South Coast also saw him look after a young Rio Ferdinand who experienced his first interactions of senior football alongside Cox, on loan from West Ham. In an interview with Bournemouth in 2019, Ferdinand praised Ian as a ‘great fella and great player’ highlighting his playing abilities too ‘he was brilliant and as quick as you like’. Ian has previously stated that his four years at Bournemouth were the best of his career.

 

In 2000, the defender joined Burnley for £500,000 and won promotion with The Clarets to the First Division (now known as The Championship), enjoying three years at Turf Moor and agonisingly missing out on the playoffs in consecutive seasons, finishing 7th.

 

Cox would then join Gillingham in 2003 on a free transfer and would spend five years with the Medway club, notching over 150 appearances.

 

With roots traced to Trinidad & Tobago, Ian was eligible to play for the Caribbean country and would play 16 times for the Soca Warriors as well as get selected in the 23-man squad for the 2006 World Cup, the first time ever that Trinidad & Tobago qualified for the tournament.

 

Despite being in the squad, Cox wouldn’t feature in any of the games as Trinidad & Tobago drew 0-0 with Sweden and lost 2-0 to both England and Mexico, finishing bottom of their group. Cox retired from international football after the tournament.

 

In 2008, Cox was released by Gillingham and the 37-year-old signed for Maidstone United where he would become a regular for The Stones before his work commitments as a prison officer limited his playing opportunities and he made the decision to retire from the game in 2009.

 

A brief return back to playing saw the defender help Whitstable Town reach their best ever league position in 2014-15 before Cox definitely hung up the boots for good.

 

A spell in coaching at Ramsgate, a run at management at Whitstable and being the first team coach at Gillingham would follow for Ian before going back to his beloved Bournemouth in 2019 to take up the position of National Citizen Service (NCS) Programme Coordinator, a role he still holds today.

 

Keep up to date with Ian Cox’s Maidstone United via their Facebook @Maidstoneunitedfc and Twitter @maidstoneunited.

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