Trevor Benjamin

Former Player Remembers: Trevor Benjamin

Between 2000 and 2004, forward Trevor Benjamin made just under a century of appearances for Leicester City during a career which saw him represent a total of 16 clubs.
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Trevor played in over 400 games and scored 95 goals in the Premier League and the Football League. He made 37 starts for the Foxes, and another 54 substitute appearances.

His time at Leicester took in three seasons in the Premier League and a promotion campaign. While with City, he also won an England Under-21s cap, as well as two full outings for Jamaica.

Kettering-born Trevor made his initial impact in the Football League when he made 146 appearances and scored 46 goals for Cambridge United between 1995 and 2000.

This spell included a promotion in 1999 to what is now Sky Bet League 1.

“I started playing in the local leagues when I was younger,” Trevor began. “Then I was spotted by Cambridge United, went for a week’s trial, which was successful, and then a two-week trial and then I was offered a place on the YTS scheme, which was like a scholarship is today. I made my debut at 16. From then on, it was onwards and upwards. My first manager there was John Beck, then Gary Johnson and finally Tommy Taylor.

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Trevor Benjamin

Benjamin's debut for the Foxes ended with Peter Taylor's side sitting top of the Premier League table.

“When Leicester’s new manager Peter Taylor signed me for £1.3M in July 2000, it was a massive jump for me to play in the Premier League. Did I think I could do it? I had a little bit of doubt but I spoke to a few players like Ian Ashbee and they reassured me, and the belief started to kick in after that. If I have any advice today for youngsters, it is to believe in yourself. When you doubt yourself, bad things happen. When you start believing in yourself, good things happen.

“Peter had wanted to take me to Gillingham, where he had been manager before taking over from Martin O’Neill at Leicester. He had put in a bid for me but this fell through when he moved to Filbert Street, but then he came back for me and signed me for Leicester.

“Soon after I arrived, Leicester went to the top of the Premier League. We had a great start to the season. We were playing good football and working hard. My debut was at Sunderland in October 2000. We drew 0-0 and we went to the top of the table! But you have ups and downs in football and that happened to us later that season.”

Trevor has reflected on City's form later on that season, which included an FA Cup loss to Wycombe Wanderers and ended with a 13th-placed finish: “When you meet lower league sides, sometimes they are really up for it for that one game. I’ve done that myself. I understand both sides of the coin. We hit a brick wall after that, but as a team we stuck together and, despite our bad run, we still stayed up in 13th position.

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Trevor Benjamin

His first goal for the Foxes came in a 3-0 success over Middlesbrough on 18 November, 2000.

“Working with Taylor was very different from working with John Beck. He really developed my game. He brought me through and I learnt a lot from him. He taught me to play my game.

“Early the next season, Dave Bassett came in with Micky Adams as his assistant, with a view to taking over at the right time. Dave was a good manager from the Wimbledon ‘Crazy Gang’ years. We did well at stages that season, but we just didn’t have enough to stay up.”

During that season, Trevor went on loan to Crystal Palace, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion, but the following year, Trevor played, either as a starter or as a substitute, in 35 games in the Leicester City side which was promoted straight back to the Premier League. It was a roller-coaster of a season. During the 2002/03 campaign, between October and February, the Club went into administration.

“The players understood that every single one of us would have to take a pay cut,” Trevor recalled. “We all loved the Club. We were a tight-knit group. We knew we would have to work really hard to get back to where we felt we should be, in the Premier League. We were playing in front of 30,000 fans every week at the new stadium. The fans were unbelievable. The fans and the players all stuck together. It was a brilliant achievement. We had to stand up and be counted and we all did this.

“When we beat Brighton at home on Easter Saturday to ensure promotion, it was awesome to be back in the Premier League. It was a big thank you to the fans. We had had a sticky patch but we all got through it. I’ve still got the medal. It’s hanging up somewhere. I’ve given a lot of my stuff away, but I’ve still got the memories.”

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Trevor Benjamin

Trevor scored nine goals for the Club as Leicester were promoted in 2002/03.

Back in the Premier League, Trevor was loaned out at various times: “I went to Gillingham, Rushden & Diamonds (then a league side) and Brighton & Hove Albion. I just loved playing, we had some big names at Leicester and I just wanted to play. That’s what I love doing, and what I do best. That’s why I went out on loans. At the end of the season, I was back at Leicester and played at Highbury in our last game of the season when we were already relegated. Arsenal, unbeaten all season on their way to the Premier League title, were known as the ‘Invincibles’. I remember it clearly. We went 1-0 up but then Arsenal put the hammer down and we were back to reality. We lost 2-1.”

Back in the Championship, Adams resigned in October 2004, to be replaced by Craig Levein.

Trevor recalls: “In December, I went to Northampton Town, initially on loan, before I was transferred there in January 2005. I saw it as a springboard because I’d been in the Premier League and the Championship and wanted to be back there. Then, I rejoined Micky at Coventry. There was a good team spirit there but I wanted security so accepted a three-year contract elsewhere.”

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Trevor Benjamin

The Jamaica international also starred for the Foxes in the 2003/04 Premier League campaign.

Trevor went on to play at Peterborough United, Watford, Swindon Town, Boston United, Walsall, and Hereford United before moving into non-league football in 2008.

Reflecting on his career, Trevor recalled, “My most difficult opponent was Manchester United’s Jaap Stam, when Leicester went to Old Trafford. He was quick and strong and had a good football brain. You don’t often get big and quick at the same time.

“At Leicester, there were some phenomenal players. The brains, technique and quality were unbelievable. I learnt so much there, which I took with me wherever I went. I don’t think they got enough recognition in the game. Muzzy Izzet, Neil Lennon and Robbie Savage worked well together. Muzzy was a good long-ball and short-ball passer, and Neil just gave it easy! He made a career out of that. Sav was a good ball player who worked hard and broke things down.

“Being at Leicester was the best time ever,” Trevor concluded. “The changing room we had was brilliant. You ask any players there at the time and they would say it was the best time of their career. There was great morale and banter. We had belief in each other.”

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