Today, we’re continuing our new series titled ‘Once A Rover’, in which we detail the career of those players to have played for Rovers’ youth teams, but never got the chance to represent the first team in a senior league fixture.
Last time out, we covered the career of Greek ‘keeper Nikolaos Giannakopoulous, which you can check out using the link at the end of this article.
Today, we’re looking back at Irish centre-back Gavin Peers, who moved across the water to sign for Rovers in 2002 following the World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
Peers received offers from Aston Villa and Burnley, but ws nudged in the direct of Rovers by his parents, who were impressed by the academy’s success in recent years bringing through the likes of David Dunn.
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Part of the side that reached the FA Youth Cup semi-finals in 2004, as an Aston Villa side who had Gary Cahill and Gabriel Agbonlahor at their disposal knocked out Rovers.
Peers’ third year with the club saw him become a part of the first-team, training with Graeme Souness’ senior side and featuring in the friendlies, it seemed destined that he would become a regular part in the first team in years to come.
He was offered a one-year extension by Souness, but after he departed and Mark Hughes came into the hot seat, Peers didn’t feature in the Welshman’s plans at the club and he was released in the summer of 2005.
Speaking to the Irish website the42.ie, Peers said: “I had a really good time at Blackburn. Mostly anyway.
“In that third year I was brought in to train with the first team in pre-season. I started in most of the friendlies.
“But things took a turn then. I was actually offered a new contract — it was a one-year extension — but that was taken away when Souness left. The next manager came in and had a different opinion. That’s football, I suppose.”
Following his release from Rovers, he signed a deal with League Two side Mansfield Town. Then-manager Carlton Palmer quit and in came Peter Shirtliff, and the Stags’ performances tailed off and Peers eventually asked for his contract to be cancelled.
Aged just 20, Peers returned back to his home country and after plenty of interest from League of Ireland clubs, he chose to sign for Sligo Rovers.
Under Paul Cook, Peers made the switch to centre-half from full-back, lining up alongside then-18-year-old Seamus Coleman, now at Everton.
During his time with Sligo in a spell that lasted ten years, Peers won three FAI Cups, one League of Ireland, one League of Ireland Cup and one Setanta Sports Cup, winning all available domestic silverware in Ireland.
He moved to St Patrick’s Athletic 2017, before moving to Northern Ireland side Derry City a year later.
Glentoran was Peers’ next club in 2019, signing in the January of that year and playing a part in their Irish Cup win in the following season.
Peers departed Glentoran in the summer of 2020, and now plays for fellow NIFL Premiership club Warrenpoint Town.
Thanks for reading.
Past installments of this series: Nikolaos Giannakopoulous
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There are plenty of prizes up for grabs, including a signed pair of boots from Elliott Bennett and signed shirts from John Buckley and Joe Rothwell.
To donate, please visit rcdonate.com and give whatever you can to help support this wonderful cause. Thank you.