City boy hits the big-time with Palace
From Non-League to the Premier League – that’s the real-life fairytale of Exeter’s own Dean Moxey.
The 27-year-old defender, who began life as a footballer with the Exeter City’s academy as a 9-year-old, played 120 minutes in front of 82,000 fans for Crystal Palace in the Championship play-off at Wembley on Bank Holiday Monday.
Deano helped the Eagles to a clean-sheet and veteran striker Kevin Phillips scored the game’s only goal midway through extra-time, as a foul on Wilfried Zaha gave the striker a chance to net from 12 yards.
For Moxey – Exeter born and bred – it completed a journey from moving up the ranks at the Academy at Exeter City, breaking through into the first-team as a 17-year-old (making his first Grecians appearance from the bench in a Conference away win at Accrington, replacing Chris Todd for the closing stages), to becoming a first-team regular for City and eventually moving onto pastures new.
Deano left St James Park to join Derby County in 2009 with the best wishes of everyone at the club. He then moved to Selhurst Park in 2011, and has helped Ian Holloway’s men back into the Premier League after an eight-year stint in the second tier. He still remains hugely popular at St James Park.
A mark of the man is that he waited at Selhurst Park at an ungodly hour (the small hours of the morning) to greet Chris and Katie Sumner of the Red Army junior supporters’ club to Crystal Palace, while they doing a London leg of their 92-ground-hop in aid of the Adam Stansfield Foundation.
Exeter City’s chief executive Julian Tagg was one of Moxey’s coaches at Exeter City, between the ages of 11 and 15.
Julian said: “He was a very, very talented young out-and-out left-winger. As a nine- or ten-year old in the local leagues he was scoring hundreds of goals, and he was very difficult to get the ball away from. He was clearly able to dribble from an early age at a very good level.
“In the Centre of Excellence they played with wing-backs, and Exeter were suddenly playing the likes of Cardiff and Swindon – he was playing a year ahead of himself, and so it was trial by fire, but that’s where he learnt his art as a defender because he could already attack very well by that point.
“Even at that age, he had an excellent approach to the game and personality. He had very supportive parents and Eamonn Dolan did a massive amount of work to support him and prepare him and in giving him his debut.
“He’s still a huge fan – you’ll often find him on the terraces home or away. He was very much a people-person here, from the cleaning lady and the dinner lady, through to the chairman. He was always good at going into schools and was always prepared to sign a signature – he would go out of his way to remember where he came from. He was a very good role model at this club, and everyone at Exeter is extremely proud and delighted for him.
“Deano was due a testimonial by the time he was 21! An awful lot of work went on during Eamonn Dolan’s time in preparing him. There are an awful lot of talented footballers that disappear. But with Dean, the link between the parents, the club and the player was very strong at all times.
“The club should take some credit for helping him to prepare for where he got to. He’s helped us enormously – not just with promotions and in his ability as a player, but also with his transfer. And we shouldn’t forget that it was his goal against Doncaster that took us to Manchester United!
“So Deano certainly paid us back and there’s any number of reasons why there’s still so much love and affinity there.”
Deano has the congratulations and best wishes for life in the top tier from everyone at Exeter City Football Club.