Dean Moxey is the perfect example of a player who began his footballing life with the Exeter City Academy, worked hard to reach the highest levels of the English game, before returning to Devon to see his career come full-circle.
Following a rise through the ECFC Academy, Dean was first given his chance in the City first-team during the 2003/04 season by former manager Eamonn Dolan. The Grecians had just been relegated from the Football League, and after many senior players left the club, the defender quickly established himself as a first-team regular.
His reputation increased during City’s remarkable run in the FA Cup the following season. In the second-round tie with League One Doncaster Rovers, Dean stunned those who watched on with a 45-yard goal that helped send the Grecians through.
That goal set up a third-round tie with Manchester United, in which City would achieve a remarkable 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
The left-back continued to play an integral role for the Grecians over the next few seasons, helping his home-town club to two promotions in as many years as City climbed up the footballing ladder to League One.
Dean moved to Derby County though in June 2009, and quickly gained recognition among Rams fans as he won the Man of the Match award for his debut appearance.
Strong form in his second season at Pride Park saw Crystal Palace come in for the full-back, as they possessed hopes of re-entering the Premier League.
Supporters at Selhurst Park quickly took to Dean, thanks to his trademark runs down the wing. After two bottom half finishes, the London club gained promotion to the top flight in the 2012/13 season.
In his solitary season in the Premier League, the defender made 20 appearances that helped the Eagles to an impressive mid-table finish.
Dean joined Bolton Wanderers in 2014 though, and following three steady years in the North West, he re-joined his beloved Grecians in June 2017 and reached two play-off finals with the club as he surpassed more than 300 appearances for the mighty Grecians.
Sadly, Dean was not able to repeat the Wembley feats of 2008 during his second spell, but having switched St James Park for Plainmoor, City fans now will be hoping that he can play his part in bringing a Devon derby – and himself – back to the Park for the 2021/22 season, as Torquay get ready to face Notts County in the National League play-off semi-finals.