ACADEMY graduate Ben Fox has recapped the ups and downs of his career so far, which include his last-minute winner against Bristol Rovers, facing Premier League giants and his unfortunate injury at the start of this season.
After spending five years coming through the Burton Albion Academy ranks, the midfielder earned his first professional deal in the summer of 2016 and was rewarded with a first-team debut against Liverpool in the League Cup as a substitute.
“It was incredible, because I was on the bench against Liverpool who were my childhood team. We were two or three goals down and the gaffer then put me on, and it was surreal.”
Fox joined National League North side Tamworth on loan for most of the 2016-17 season to help aid his development.
“It was one of the best things I’ve done. The thought of being a fan favourite there always makes me smile, it couldn’t have gone much better.”
Further productive spells with Solihull Moors and Gateshead in the National League meant that he had a more prominent role in Albion’s first-team squad for the 2018-19 campaign.
He made 27 appearances in League One and his last-gasp winner against Bristol Rovers was a standout moment in that campaign.
With two minutes remaining on the clock, the game looked destined for a 0-0 stalemate. This was until Lucas Akins drove the ball into Fox in the penalty area, and he beautifully flicked the ball to escape the attention of a defender and stabbed the ball home.
“What a day! Yeah, that was incredible.
"I came on and I felt good. I was that buzzing; I was ill the following week because my adrenaline was that high!”
The good times kept rolling as that campaign saw the Brewers go on their magical Carabao Cup run which saw them overcome Shrewsbury Town, Aston Villa, Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough.
All of this led them to their semi-final where they took on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who later that season went on to win the Premier League.
Aggregate result aside, it was a fantastic experience for everyone at the club and that includes Ben Fox, who made substitute appearances in both.
“I came on with 20 minutes to go [in the first leg], and it was incredible to play against them on that pitch, and that season they were one of the best Premier League teams ever.”
After that successful season establishing himself amongst the first-team, the 2019-20 campaign began with a long-term injury picked up away at Matlock Town in the first pre-season match of the season.
Suffering a knee ligament injury, it would keep him out for eight months:
“I knew straight away that it was bad. It felt like my foot stuck and my whole body went the other way.
“All sorts [goes through your head]. It was one of the worst moments I’ve been through.”
His road to recovery was a long and tough one, but he ultimately made his comeback to the first-team squad when he was on the bench against Bolton Wanderers on March 10.
That was the last match before the suspension of matches due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, further postponing Ben's hopes of making it back onto the pitch for a return to first-team football.
“That definitely sums up the way my year has gone.
"I worked so hard for it to get taken away again, but that’s life and people’s safety is a lot more important and that is what matters.”