Belfast Telegraph

Bailie will always be greatest Linfield player says new captain

Michael Gault finally knows what it’s like to captain Linfield. It’s a job he’s had his eye on since his debut a decade ago.

One thing he doesn’t want, however, is to be compared to former skipper Noel Bailie.

The reason? Because the new bearer of the armband insists that nobody will ever be able to replace the man he calls ‘the greatest ever Linfield player’.

When Bailie retired at the end of last season a massive void was left at Windsor Park. For manager David Jeffrey finding a replacement captain was one thing, but he admitted long before the Blues legend hung up his boots that as a person Bailiewas irreplaceable.

“I can’t compare to Noel Bailie and I’m not even going to try,” said Gault.

“Noel talked to me and offered me advice from when I first came into the Linfield team as a teenager. He’s a close friend and he’s still there for advice. If I need any help he’s there to turn to.

“In my opinion he’s the greatest ever Linfield player. I don’t know how many trophies he lifted, but if I lift half as many I’ll be happy.”

A knee ligament injury — which medical experts hope won’t require surgery — delayed Gault’s first appearance of the season. That came in the 3-2 win over Lisburn Distillery on Tuesday night.

The result gave Gault a perfect start and the experience now means that he has an answer to the question that’s been on the lips of almost everyone the 28-year-old has met in recent weeks.

“People have been asking me what it’s like to be captain of Linfield. Before Tuesday night I couldn’t give them an answer,” he said.

“When I led the team out against Lisburn Distillery that’s when it really started to sink in.

“I really enjoyed it and now I’m looking forward to many more games as Linfield captain.”

“It was very exciting when David Jeffrey told me that he wanted me to be the new captain.

“My mum and dad watch all the Linfield games and they were very proud. For me captaining Linfield is the greatest moment of my career.”

CARLING PREMIERSHIP FIXTURES: Ballymena United v Linfield, Carrick Rangers v Lisburn Distillery, Coleraine v Portadown, Dungannon Swifts v Crusaders, Glenavon v Donegal Celtic, Glentoran v Cliftonville.

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