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RHYS DAY TESTIMONIAL
17th May 2012 16:56


12 May 2012
Mansfield Town 5 - 5 Rhys Days's Mansfield Town Legends

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Rhys Day: Mansfield's Number Five
mansfieldtown.net

It was an emotional yet entertaining day on Saturday, as 29 year old defender Rhys Day hung up his boots at the One Call Stadium, hosting a match between Legends v Current Crop, to say thank you and goodbye to the fans who have followed his career.

http://www.mansfieldtown.net/page/NewsDetail/0,,10325~2771951,00.html

Rhys' career came to an abrupt end back in January following another reoccurrence of an injury that had troubled the much loved Welshman for some 24 months. In a twist of fate, Rhys was at the heart of a young Stags defence in a friendly with Rainworth MW when the ex-Aldersot centre-half fell awkwardly after he rose for a header.

Despite the resulting operation being deemed a success, Rhys felt he could o longer continue and made the difficult decision to retire, rounding off a fantastic career on Saturday by inviting former team mates and club legends back to the One Call to take on his current crop of team mates.

A crowd of 828 watched on as the likes of Bobby Hassell, Liam Lawrence and Ritchie Barker donned the famous Amber and Blue once more, however despite a plethora of legends making their return, the day fittingly belonged to Rhys.

Supporters at the One Call Stadium stood and applauded warmed heartedly as Rhys led out the teams. Wearing the famous Amber and Blue with 'Day 5' printed on the back, holding his new born son William in his arms, the Welshman struggled to hold back the tears as his nation's anthem provided a fitting backing track.

The match itself was fitting to Rhys' character, serious with the right blend of light heartedness - producing many moments which the former Manchester City trainee and on watching fans will never forget.

It was Rhys who was to kick off the match with former team mate Wayne Corden, before heading off the pitch and taking his place as manager in the legends' dugout to a rapturous round of applause.

Day's side struck first as a combination from the players of yesteryear had fans beaming from ear to ear. Bobby Hassell and Liam Lawrence combined on the right before the latter played a sensational cross park ball to Wayne Corden. And the wide man then did what he was known for, nipping inside past Andy Todd and delivering for Jason Lee to net past Alan Marriott for 1-0 with ten minutes gone.

Kevin Pilkington kept his side in the game with a series of fine saves to deny Lee Stevenson. Adam Eaton who also retired at an early age with a knee injury put one loose ball out for a throw midway through the first half. The crowd chanted Exodus Geohaghon's name for one final bullet long throw however a bear hug from goal scorer Lee stopped Big Ex from unleashing the throw which the faithful have all come to love.

Bury manager Ritchie Barker and ex Hartlepool man Colin Larkin both saw efforts blocked for the legends before the current crop levelled with ten to go before the break, Liam Lawrence tripped Ben Hutchinson in the area and he stepped up to coolly convert the resulting spot kick beyond Pilkington.

Two minutes later Ritchie Sutton stretched the game down the left hand side, linking up with Hutchinson and Stevenson before Andy Todd fired a neat volley beyond Pilkington to turn the score line on its head and put the current crop into a 2-1 lead. A Jon Worthington corner on 42 minutes provided the next goal of the afternoon, Lee Stevenson struck a venomous volley into the bottom corner after Geohaghon had chipped the ball back into the mix.

After the break Alan Marriott decided he'd spent enough time between the sticks this season and headed upfront whilst Lee Stevenson took over goal keeping duty.

At first the tactical change made by Paul Cox, who was managing the current crop, appeared to work wonders as Marriott turned by Tom Naylor before dragging it a whisker wide of Pilkington's goal.

The legends made numerous changes at the break themselves and began the fight back. Junior Mendes caused trouble on the left hand side drilling into the middle for Andy White who bundled home from close range for 3-2.

Moments later Iyesden Christie rolled back the years to level the game, cutting back from the goal line and then curled a splendid left footed effort into the top corner beyond Stevenson who stood no chance.

The legends then showed class as Colin Larkin gave Paul Cox something to consider, following the 30 year old Irishman's release from Hartlepool. Weaving his way through the midfield and into the area, Larkin dropped his shoulder and tucked beneath the on-rushing Stevenson for 4-3.

The current crop introduced the sorehead brigade to the match following Friday's end of season dinner, Matt Green made an instant impact by chipping over a stunned Pilkington just past the hour mark following good link up play between Andy Todd and Lindon Meikle.

Moments later the match saw its most beautiful moment as Rhys Day took to the pitch for one final time after Lee Stevenson had taken down Christie for a spot kick.

Initially the Bridgend born defender missed the pealty, chipping over the bar, reminiscent of the Liam Lawrence penalty in the heart breaking shootout of 2004 in the play-off final.

Russell Booth, the match referee, refused to let Day's career end on a fluffed spot kick and demanded a retake. Rhys powerfully lofted into the top corner and soaked the applause from the delighted crowd as current captain Adam Murray gave Day a celebratory hug as the spot kick put the legends into a 5-4 lead.

After a number of positional changes in the 'current team', Martin Riley tucked a scuffed effort beyond Pilkington in the final ten minutes to make it 5-5.

Despite the goals drying up, there was still plenty more to enjoy as Kevin Pilkington refused to let Andy Todd take a nap in his six yard box and dragged him off the pitch by his feet before Russell Booth brought an end to the match.

The players from both sides then stood together and led another rapturous round of applause for Day, who headed down the tunnel, turning back one final time to wave at the supporters to cap off a career which spanned some 15 years.

Everyone at the One Call Stadium would like to thank Rhys for his services for our club and wish him all the best for the future: Rhys Day - Mansfield's number 5.

Legends: Kevin Pilkington, Bobby Hassell, Tom Naylor, Des Walker, Adam Eaton, Liam Lawrence, Michael Brough, Colin Larkin, Wayne Corden, Jason Lee, Ritchie Barker.

Subs: Jamie Clarke, Jake Buxton, Craig Mitchell, Adam Murray, Junior Mendes, Iyesden Christie, Andy White and Rhys Day

Class of 2011-12: Alan Marriott, Andy Todd, Exodus Geohaghon, Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton, Ross Dyer, Jon Worthington, Paul Bolland, Anthony Howell, Ben Hutchinson, Lee Stevenson.

Subs: Adam Smith, Lindon Meikle, Luke O'Neill and Matt Green

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Farewell Rhys
Craig Priest writes....

After a career spanning 15 years, five clubs and various honours, it came as a massive blow when Rhys Day announced his retirement from the professional game back in April, following another injury set back after 24 months of constant setbacks. The fatal game was back in January at Rainworth MW, a game in which Rhys was on the way back to full fitness at too his own admission, was feeling the best he had for years.

http://mtfcmatters.weebly.com/mm-blog.html

Sometimes that's the way it goes, however to a man who always gave his all at the heart of the Stags defence no matter what the fixture, you can't help but curse life's fate on this occasion as a career ends before its time. Rhys, who arrived on loan from Manchester City back in 2002 during our relegation campaign, helped sure up a leaky defence and helped make the pain of relegation seem less, well painful!

Thinking back, it's difficult define the moment that Rhys attained legendary status because of his massive contribution in over a hundred games in the Amber and Blue, however I can pinpoint the moment that marked and demonstrated his professional grace and helped the Stags onto a memorable win. The match in question is most remembered for a certain Liam Lawrence's stoppage time winner in front of the travelling fans, yes you got it – Chesterfield away, January 18th 2003. Former Stags striker Shane Bradley had come on for the enemy and lasted 90 seconds before spitting in Rhys' face and being shown a straight red by the referee.

It was pretty much the following season when Rhys came into his element, a regular face in the side which reached the play-off final at the millennium stadium, Cardiff, Rhys national stadium.

Moving on in 2006 to Aldershot Rhys achieved promotion and cup successes before moving to Oxford in 2009, where again he achieved promotion moving back to Field Mill in 2010 as one of David Holdsworth's many signings, however a series of injuries saw Rhys unable to get a proper run in the side, missing our FA Trophy final and the opportunity to once again grace a national stage.

Yesterday was a really enjoyable day the One Call Stadium as former team mates and fellow team mates returned to wish the 29 year old Welsh centre half well for the future and help him say thank you to the fans that have followed his every move. Whilst Rhys remained humble in saying the game for him to say thank you, the 800+ supporters inside the stadium made sure Rhys new that the feeling was more than mutual. The applause for Rhys as he led the teams out onto the pitch holding his new born son in his arms was spine tingling, the photos say it all really, as Rhys struggled to hold back his emotions. The same can be said for what is a frankly defining image – at the full time whistle players from both the legends team and the current crop remained on the pitch to clap Rhys off whilst in the stands, every support stood to give the ovation the Welshman truly deserved. Walking down the tunnel, Rhys turned a final time and held one arm aloft looking towards the crowd, with the tears filling in his eyes, he knew that his playing days were over and that despite the lack of silverware, the days spent in the Amber and Blue of Mansfield Town had been his best, the days he'd cherish forever.

I have been privileged to chat with Rhys on numerous occasion, he talks with passion about the game and his knowledge is second to none, don't be surprised in years to come to see Rhys in a Stags tracksuit over in the dugout, in charge of either the first team, the reserves or youth football, a place which Rhys eyes as the next step. The say great players don't make great managers; Rhys will be the exception to the rule – a fantastic player, dominant in the air, strong in the tackle, wise off the ball and a natural born leader. A wonderful guy with excellent knowledge of the game and the banter to match.

Rhys Day defines the term legend, I feel lucky to have watched, worked with and spoken to a true footballing man on many occasion, the name and reputation of Rhys Day won't stop in playing circles, it will blossom in the wider footballing world.

The match too was fitting of the man of whose honour it was in, a close but open encounter with serious phases of play blended in with comedy and the light heartedness for which Rhys is most known. Kevin Pilkington was on top form between the sticks for the legends, denying Lee Stevenson throughout the first half so much that Pilks actually inspired Stevenson to become a gloves man in the second half! The Notts County goal keeping coach who captained us to the play-off final in Cardiff was also busy keeping out Ross Dyer, Ben Hutchinson and Andy Todd. At the back for the legends, Tom Naylor now at Derby County slotted in like he'd never been away whilst his partner Des Walker lived up to his famous terrace chant 'You'll never beat Des Walker'. Down the left hand side, Adam Eaton who retired after his spell at Stags through a knee injury, defended resiliently and had Stags fans wondering 'what if'. Wayne Corden still showed that magic on the left hand side of midfield however it was on the right where the years were rolled back as Bobby Hassell and Liam Lawrence played together for the first time since the heartbreaking defeat in 2004. The duo were on fire and helped set the opening goal on ten minutes, Bobby Hassell's pass inside for Lawrence saw him switch play to Corden, who nipped past Todd before crossing in for Jason Lee to bundle home past Alan Marriott for 1-0.

The match remained in the legends favour for the majority of the first half with the aforementioned Pilkington denying Stevenson several times, allowing Hassell and Lawrence to combine attempting to feed Colin Larkin, Lord Barker and Jason Lee. The latter famed for his pineapple hair style back in his Nottingham Forest days soon became villain midway through the first half. The current crop won a throw in on the right and as the crowd chanted 'Exodus' for one final long throw, Jason Lee bear hugged the big centre back to stop him from going over to inflict certain damage on the legends team. The current crop were level with ten minutes to go before the break, Liam Lawrence upended Ben Hutchinson in the box, and the latter stepped up and converted the resulting penalty past a static Pilkington for 1-1.

The current crop of Stags star then took hold of the game with an additional two goals in five minutes, A Ritchie Sutton drive down the left hand side helped set Andy Todd up for 2-1 volleying in from the edge of the box before a Jon Worthington corner saw the ball sit for Lee Stevenson who riffled home a thunderous volley beyond Pilkington for 3-1 prior to the half time whistle.

The teams immerged for the second half with a few changes; most noticeably Lee Stevenson took to goal whilst Alan Marriott headed up front alongside Hutchinson. Marriott provided much entertainment showing close control and leaving Tom Naylor chasing a shadow with a great turn on the edge of the legends box, however the finish trickled just wide of Pilkington's goal. Former Stag Andy White made it 3-2 with a tap in from close range after Junior Mendes had created on the left hand side; Iyseden Christie made it 3-3 with a wonderful curling effort, cutting back from the goal line to smash into the top corner with his left boot. Colin Larkin who scored at Cardiff but saw his effort chalked off for offside showed the on watching Paul Cox he's got something to offer following his release from Hartlepool in the week, weaving past three current Staggies before drilling low beyond Stevenson for 4-3. The current crop made a few changes and those entering the field wore headbands to try and heal there hangover from the previous nights end of season dinner, it was Matt Green who levelled things with a delightful dink over Pilkington from a Meikle assist, at 4-4 Greens terrific again left Stags fans wondering 'what if'.

The game then saw its most beautiful moment as Lee Stevenson bundled Christie over for a penalty. Rhys Day came off the bench to take the spot kick, kicking a ball for the final time in his playing career he replicated the antics of Liam Lawrence in that shootout in Cardiff, attempting to chip Stevenson but blazing over. Referee Russell Booth had other ideas and order a retake for an infringement, Day again took the spot kick, finding the top corner of the net meaning his last action was to score a goal in Stags colours, putting the legends in a 5-4 lead. Rhys celebrated with arms held wide, the Amber shirt read 'Day 5' as current skipper Adam Murray, playing on the legends side, leapt into Rhys arms for a celebration hug whilst fellow players from both sides, applauded Day's final action as a professional footballer.

The comedy continued as Andy Todd and Tom Naylor enjoyed a play fight in the middle of the park, Todd was later dragged off the pitch by Pilkington as the player-coach lay down for a nap in Pilkington's six yard box. Unbelievable misses from Andy White and breath taking plays for some of the old guard followed before the current crop of players played around with formations, wingers played as centre backs, centre backs played as strikers, you get the picture! In the end the gamble paid off, Martin Riley levelled the match to 5-5 with what can only be described as a 12 yard screwed bobbling pass into the bottom corner!

Appearing for the legends: Kevin Pilkington, Bobby Hassell, Tom Naylor, Des Walker, Adam Eaton, Liam Lawrence, Michael Brough, Colin Larkin, Wayne Corden, Jason Lee, Ritchie Barker, Jamie Clarke, Jake Buxton, Craig Mitchell, Adam Murray, Junior Mendes, Iyesden Christie, Andy White and Rhys Day

Appearing for the class of 2011-12: Alan Marriott, Andy Todd, Exodus Geohaghon, Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton, Ross Dyer, Jon Worthington, Paul Bolland, Anthony Howell, Ben Hutchinson, Lee Stevenson, Adam Smith, Lindon Meikle, Luke O'Neill and Matt Green

The game ended level at 5-5 and whilst it may have been fitting for Rhys' penalty to prove the winner, in the end a level score line was fair and fitting the occasion and in a way, whether intended or not, Rhys Day had given those at the One Call Stadium sometime to smile about following the devastation and heartbreak just days earlier.

Once again Rhys, we thank you, not only for putting on a wonderful day's entertainment but for everything down the years, you have been a fantastic servant to the club, I for one wish you well in the coaching game and for the life ahead of you.

Farewell Rhys, and thank you

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Day bids a fond farewell to Stags
Nottingham Post

THE slight limp was there as Rhys Day made his way out to kick off the match, the knee problem that had brought the curtain down on his career prematurely clearly evident.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/story-16078119-detail/story.html

But it was the lump in his throat and tears in the eye that were even more prominent as an emotional Day bid a farewell to Mansfield Town, and his playing days, at the One Call Stadium on Saturday.

Carrying his baby son William in his arms as he led out a Stags Legends side prior to kick off, the Land of My Fathers blaring out on the stadium's PA system, the Welshman was awash with pride.

And as he left the pitch at the end to a standing ovation, turning for one last look before exiting down the tunnel for the final time as the Welsh anthem played again, he admitted crying his heart out as he entered the changing room.

At 29, it is career cut too short, after he snapped his patella tendon during a friendly back in January, following a series of knee problems.

This time, enough was enough and he took the decision to retire. More than three months on, there is long road ahead to get his knee right.

But the weekend's testimonial gave him chance to say thank you to the fans, those who have backed him during two spells at the club and even the chance to chip in a penalty in a second-half cameo, despite missing the target at his first attempt!

It was also a great excuse to bring some of the Stags favourites back to their old stomping ground.

Many were part of the side who got Mansfield to the Division Three play-off final in 2004, only to lose on penalties to Huddersfield.

The man whose last kick in a Stags shirt was that infamous missed chipped penalty in south Wales, Liam Lawrence, was back in amber and blue.

His career has rocketed, gracing the Premier League with Sunderland and Stoke and having just lost in the Championship play-offs with Cardiff.

And he was reunited on the right with full-back Bobby Hassell, who also left that summer and has spent the last eight years at Barnsley, performing on the Championship stage.

Kevin Pilkington, Adam Eaton, Colin Larkin, Wayne Corden, Iyseden Christie, Alex-John Baptiste, Lee Williamson, Junior Mendes, Jamie Clarke and Jake Buxton – all part of the squad in 2003/04 – were also back, although Baptiste and Williamson's participation was not allowed due to play-off commitments with Blackpool and Sheffield United respectively.

Popular striker Ritchie Barker was also back, as was Jason Lee and former Forest and England defender Des Walker also turned out for the legends.

And after a dreary few weeks weather-wise, even the sun made an appearance on an afternoon more about the occasion than the football on show as the Legends took on members of Paul Cox's current Mansfield side, who had enjoyed their end-of-season presentation the night before, making for a few tired legs and minds before a ball was even kicked.

After Day flicked the ball up and headed it to his team-mates at the kick off, he made his way off to loud applause before the Stags of new and old got on with the action.

And the light-hearted atmosphere made for an entertaining 90 minutes of goals, cameos and some fun-filled moments.

It was 3-1 to the current Stags side by the break, Mansfield hitting back through a Ben Hutchinson penalty and Andy Todd and Lee Stevenson strikes following Jason Lee's opener.

And in the second half, Stevenson took on the gloves, with goalkeeper Marriott heading up front.

Andy White pulled one back ten minutes in, then Christie hammered an angled drive home before Colin Larkin put the Legends in front on the hour, only for Matt Green to put one in the top corner to level matters two minutes later at 4-4.

It was then the turn of Day to take centre stage again. Stevenson brought down Christie in the box and Day came on to take the spot kick only to put his penalty high over the bar.

He cheekily said afterwards it was all in the script but the players on the pitch and the fans burst into laughter at his miss, but local referee Russell Booth could not see Day end on a fluffed line, as he ordered a re-take that Day dispatched, lapping up the applause.

Martin Riley made it 5-5 and it ended all square. But it was not about the football, it was all about Day.

It was an emotional afternoon for the central defender and his family and the turnout, from players and fans alike, simply proved Day's popularity in the game.

Stags legends: Pilkington, Hassell, Walker, Naylor, Eaton, Corden, Lawrence, Brough, Barker, Larkin, Lee. Subs: A White, Mitchell, Christie, Saxby, Mendes, Murray, Clarke, Buxton.

Stags current team: Marriott, Todd, Geohaghon, Riley, Sutton, Bolland, Worthington, Stevenson, Hutchinson, Howell, Dyer. Subs: O'Neill, Green, Meikle, Smith.

Attendance: 828

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Emotional day as Stags favourite bows out
Nottingham Post

RHYS Day said he just crumbled with emotion after walking down the Mansfield Town tunnel for the final time.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/story-16078005-detail/story.html

The 29-year-old central defender announced his retirement from football earlier this year, after snapping his patella tendon in his knee in a friendly match back in January.

It came after an injury-hit 18 months during his second spell with the Stags, for whom he has made more than 100 appearances.

But his testimonial match at the One Call Stadium on Saturday saw him bring back a host of former favourites to pull on the amber and blue against the current Mansfield team.

It included many of the squad in which Day played when the club lost in the Division Three play-off final in 2004, including Liam Lawrence, Alex-John Baptiste and Bobby Hassell.

After being given a standing ovation as he went off down the tunnel at the end of the match, he said: "When I went down the tunnel, I was thankful I was on my own because I just crumbled.

"Walking down for the last time was emotional, I'm welling up just thinking about it again.

"I cannot thank the fans enough, it has been absolutely amazing and I am just buzzing with it. I was emotional walking out at the beginning as well with my baby son.

"The idea was to get those players back to play in front of the fans again. It was a thank you really for the support they have given me."

Current boss Paul Cox said it was a great way to end the season, just five days after the club suffered play-off heartache.

"It says a lot about Rhys because these lads have come from every corner of the country to support him," said Cox. "He deserved it. he has been a great servant to the club."

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PREVIEWS
Stags fans urged to turn out for Rhys Day testimonial
chad.co.uk, Thursday 10 May 2012

MANSFIELD Town boss Paul Cox is urging fans to turn out on Saturday (3pm) to see the current team take on the Stags Legends XI for Rhys Day's testimonial game.

http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-fc/stags-fans-urged-to-turn-out-for-rhys-day-testimonial-1-4536141

The Welsh centre half has had to retire this summer after a serious knee injury but will be given a fantastic send-off on Saturday when players of the calibre of Kevin Pilkington, Des Walker, Bobby Hassell, Jamie Clarke, Tom Naylor, Adam Eaton, Gary Silk, Jake Buxton, Alex John-Baptiste, Liam Lawrence, Lee Williamson, Craig Disley, Wayne Corden, Giles Coke, Richie Barker, Iyseden Christie, Chris Beardsley, Colin Larkin and Junior Mendes return.

“I hope supporters will come out in their droves and it will be a great day,” said Cox.

“I hope Rhys gets a great send-off. He has been great to work with and I hope it's a brilliant afternoon.

“It is horrendous when players receive that kind of injury and I will help him out in any way I can. He's a great lad.”

Admission is just £10 adults and £5 children

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Mansfield Town look to put on a show for the retiring Rhys Day
Friday, May 11, 2012 Nottingham Post

PAUL Cox said the Mansfield Town players will put on a top show tomorrow to give retiring Rhys Day a testimonial to remember.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/story-16052644-detail/story.html

His squad faced a painful afternoon at the One Call Stadium on Monday, when they lost in extra time of the second leg of their play-off semi-final to York to miss out on a final at Wembley.

It was a horrible way to end such a great season, where the Stags finished third in the Blue Square Bet Premier.

But his players will turn out tomorrow (3pm) for Day's testimonial, taking on a Stags All Star team with the likes of the returning Liam Lawrence, Des Walker, Bobby Hassell, Lee Williamson, Kevin Pilkington, Ritchie Barker, Alex John-Baptiste and Jake Buxton.

Day, 29, recently announced his retirement due to a serious knee injury, after making more than 100 appearances for the Stags during two spells.

And Cox said: "It should be a great day for Rhys and the lads will turn up, put on a show and give him their support.

"It will be a chance for them to show their respect for Rhys and to the fans. It should be a memorable occasion with so many players coming back."

Tickets for the game are £10 adults and £5 concessions.

Meanwhile, tonight Stags have their end-of-season dinner at the One Call Stadium.

Cox added: "Hopefully there will be a good turnout and the supporters and players can show their appreciation for each other.

"Then, with some hard work and new additions, we can go one better next season."

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Heroes return as Rhys Day prepares to take his final bow with Mansfield Town
Saturday, May 12, 2012 Nottingham Post

AS he steps out on the turf for one final time today to kick off the match, in the amber and blue of Mansfield Town, it will be an emotional occasion for Rhys Day.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/story-16062366-detail/story.html

Unfortunately for him, he will not be able to get among the action for long as many former Stags heroes return to take on the current favourites at the One Call Stadium (3pm).

But the story behind his omission is the very reason why the likes of Liam Lawrence, Lee Williamson, Kevin Pilkington and company will be pulling on a Stags shirt one more time.

They will be there to pay a fond farewell to central defender Day, in his testimonial match, after he announced his retirement at the age of 29 because of a knee injury.

After a second loan spell with Mansfield at the end of 2010, he struggled after making that move permanent, joining from Oxford in January 2011 and making just one appearance.

On the comeback trail in January this year, in a friendly at Rainworth, he snapped his patella tendon and ruptured ligaments.

And, this time, Day said "enough is enough". For the sake of his health, his future, he made the decision to quit the game he loves before his 30th birthday.

Asked whether it was a tough decision, he pointed out the recent birth of his first child, William Kevin Day, was a big factor.

"It was a tough decision to make and one I did not take lightly," said the Welshman. "But it was one I felt had to be made, for the sake of my future, if I did not want to end up in a wheelchair anytime soon.

"Becoming a dad is a massive part of it. I want to be able to go down the field and have a kick around with him.

"Had I carried on for another two or three years, I could have been in a wheelchair by the time I was 45."

Day first joined the Stags on loan from Manchester City in November 2002, making nine appearances before the move became permanent in the January.

He then went on to make a further 112 appearances, 50 of which came in the 2003/04 season under Keith Curle when Mansfield made the Division Three play-off final.

He scored in the first leg of the semi-final against Northampton and in the final, at the Millennium Stadium, was part of the side that lost to Huddersfield on penalties.

It was at that time the Stags team was broken up, with the likes of Lawrence, Williamson and Alex John-Baptiste going on to grace the Premier League stage and Bobby Hassell and Jake Buxton now play in the Championship. All of them are expected to be back today.

Day's career took him to Aldershot, with whom he won promotion into the Football League, and he did the same with Oxford before returning for his injury-hit second spell with Mansfield Town.

But not one for regrets, he is looking forward to many of the 2003/04 squad returning today for his testimonial, the side from a season that was his best in a Stags shirt.

They will take on Paul Cox's current stars, who have just finished third in the Blue Square Bet Premier, losing out in the play-off semi-final to York City on Monday.

But Day hopes it will be a great occasion for all the fans to get behind the Stags – new and old.

And while he will not be able to get too involved on the pitch, he will take charge of the Stags All Star team from the dugout.

He said: "It has been a busy time planning but everyone has confirmed so it should be a great day and I hope there is a good turn out.

"Baps (Baptiste) and Leroy (Williamson) have play-off commitments but will both still be there and we'll have to see if they can play some part.

"I will put on the kit for one last time and kick off the game but with my knee as it is at the moment, I don't think I will be able to do more than that.

"We will all be going to the hospitality suite after for a drink and then all the lads across to my local, the Talbot."

Tickets are £10 (£5 concessions).

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