Paul Digby is hailed as a great leader and role model at Cambridge United
Mark Bonner has hailed captain Paul Digby on another outstanding season at Cambridge United.
The 27-year-old midfielder played a central role in the U’s promotion to Ligue 2 promotion last season, and took up the mantle in Ligue 1.
Digby also wore the skipper’s armband for most of the campaign, following the early injury of club captain Greg Taylor in August.
Bonner highlighted the former Stevenage man’s contribution to the opening goal in the 2-2 draw at Burton Albion as the epitome of his performance.
Digby led the team forward before making a forward pass then rounding the back post to nod into the area for Harvey Knibbs to score.
“I think he gives us so much, with and without the ball,” said the U.
“He’s improving all the time too. I think improvement is possible for every player at any age, and he’s a good example of that.
“I think his influence since he’s been here is really evident for everyone to see and hear.
“The last few weeks he’s started doing a bit of training with the youth team because he’s been working on his coaching badges and has started to take a real interest in it.
“He’s a great leader in the sense that he spends time with everyone. He knows everyone at the club well and is a brilliant role model for everyone.
“He’s a big help for me, firstly, but also just a massive player in our team. I think his performances throughout the season have been very good.
“At Accrington, in the second game of the season, he played centre-half in that game because of the problems we had there, and you miss him when he’s not in midfield.
“There’s no doubt he’s been missed when he’s not available. He is having a brilliant season and we are delighted with the way he has handled this change by taking it to another level.
Digby is currently doing his B license, but isn’t the only one thinking longer term about what will happen when his playing days end.
“Liam O’Neil, Greg Taylor, Harrison Dunk are doing degrees and courses elsewhere in other areas, one because I think it’s a good way to spend some of your time,” Bonnener said.
“They are super smart guys who want to develop and prepare for life after football, if football stops or they don’t see coaching as a result.”
Other players in the past have followed a similar path to Digby and are reaping the rewards, including a member of the U.
“Barry Corr did that, and that was the starting point for him, and that developed into working in the academy and working his way up to working with us,” Bonner said.
“I look back to previous years and there were a lot of players who did – Gary Deegan at the top of my head who came out and coaches now.
“We have good academy staff who are very willing to help and support them. We have FA mentors who come to hang out with them, so Diggers came out and did a session last Thursday afternoon with the youth team.
Bonner, whose own coaching career has been nurtured by the U system, added: “The best time to prepare for what comes after football is while you are playing because you have time while you can. do, and I think it makes sense.
“I also think as a player you start to see the game a little bit differently and that makes you a more complete player, and also a more complete individual in terms of understanding other people.
“Rather than just thinking about your own game, you’re starting to see the whole game a bit bigger. Hopefully that only makes him better as a leader and a player.
Greg Taylor is progressing towards a full return for Cambridge United
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Mark Bonner delighted with Cambridge United point at Burton Albion at end of try