Roberts rules out retirement as he clocks up 500 Daggers appearances

Veteran keeper determined to continue as he passes milestone.

Dagenham & Redbridge goalkeeper Tony Roberts believes he has plenty of life left in him after reaching his 500th game for the club on Tuesday night.

The 2-0 loss over Peterborough United may not have been the result the 41-year-old had in mind when he pulled on his jersey and gloves before the game, but he certainly looks back on reaching the milestone with pride.

“Reaching 500 games is a great honour for me and being the first to do so for Dagenham & Redbridge makes it even more special,” said the former QPR stopper in his programme notes.

“That figure could have been higher if it wasn’t for one bad season of injuries I had and I’ve missed less than 10 league games in all the time that John Still has been manager.

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“I won’t be hanging up my gloves for a long time yet, so let’s hope that me and the Daggers supporters have many more great memories.”

But earlier in his career he thought his League days were over when he picked up a finger injury whilst in goal for QPR against Ipswich in 1998, and after suffering the injury for the second time he was told if he was to repeat it again, he may have had to lose a finger, forcing retirement.

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Fast forward nine years and he was fulfilling his dream as the Daggers earned their place in the Football League.

And the former Welsh international now believes he has improved with age.

“I am a better goalkeeper now than I was at QPR. Back in 1991 I remember saying to the manager Don Howe: ‘I want to be in the first team.’ He said: ‘Take your time, learn your trade and by the time you are 30, you will be a good keeper.’ Unfortunately, when I was 30 I injured my finger and had to finish as a pro.”

But when Daggers achieved promotion to League Two, a settlement was paid by the club to the insurance company who paid out after he retired from professional football, which meant Roberts could continue. Since then he has never looked back.

His goalkeeping coach at Daggers, Micky Payne, was absolutely delighted for the keeper and echoed the keeper’s thoughts of continuing.

“I have known and worked very closely with Tony for many years and there is no doubt he is the ultimate professional and is an inspiration for both young players and young keepers.

“He is very dedicated and I feel he could go on for another two or three years yet, in my opinion.

“His achievement at Dagenham is beyond belief and he has played with them all the way from non league to where they are now and has won many player of the year awards at Dagenham. To reach 500 is an amazing achievement.”

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