Goalkeepers are different so they say… and that phrase was surely never more apt than in the case of John Burridge.

Over the course of a quite remarkable playing career, Burridge – or ‘Budgie’ as he was affectionately and universally known – played for an incredible 29 different clubs with his time between the sticks spanning four eventful decades

Along the way, Budgie racked up a reputation both as a formidable ‘keeper and also as one of the great characters of English football thanks to some eye-catching antics both on and off the pitch.

On-field somersaults, handstands, sitting on top of a crossbar, wearing a Superman outfit underneath his kit… it was all in a day’s work for Burridge who was also to prove well ahead of the curve in terms of his appliance of football science.

And Budgie also carved out his own special place in City history during a brief but eventful spell with the Club between 1994 and 1995.

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He may have only played four games for the Club – but his debut was to afford him the special distinction of becoming the oldest goalkeeper ever to represent City.

Billy Meredith is the oldest aged 49 years and 245 when he played his last game, while Budgie clocked up 43 years 142 days on his last appearance for City.

Thanks to a supreme dedication to his craft – and a strict fitness and diet regime that was to prove years ahead of its time – Budgie’s playing career extended well into his 40s.

And towards the end of his playing days Budgie became a popular and respected goalkeeping gun for hire, often being drafted in by clubs at short notice to help answer an emergency between the sticks.

                        MR DEDICATION: John Burridge in one of his famed training drills
MR DEDICATION: John Burridge in one of his famed training drills

It was in such circumstances that Burridge – who was at the time also operating as Newcastle’s part-time goalkeeping coach - found his way to Maine Road in late 1994, during the stewardship of Brian Horton.

With City’s established goalkeeping triumvirate of Tony Coton, Andy Dibble and Martyn Margetson either having been sidelined by either injury or suspension – or in Margetson’s case a spell away on loan - at various stages of the 1994/95 campaign, Horton opted to bring in extra insurance in the ever dependable shape of Burridge.

Horton’s hunch was to prove accurate – as four months later on April 29th, 1995 – fate was to hand Budgie his big opportunity.

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And, in the irony of ironies, it was to arise during a crucial home match against Kevin Keegan’s high-flying Newcastle United – whom Burridge was still helping during the course of the week.

"I went to Kevin on the Monday before the game and said: 'You know we play you on Saturday? Should I tell them you don't want to play me?' Burridge recalled in 2012.

“Kevin said: 'Budgie. There's a 100-1 chance you get on'.

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However, fate was to prove otherwise, as Burridge recounted.

"I got on the bus to travel down on the Friday. They went to Mottram Hall, I went to the Sheridan. When Newcastle were coming into Maine Road on the coach I was welcoming them and having a cup of tea in their dressing room," Budgie added.

“Then, just before half-time, Tony Coton said: 'My knee's gone Budgie'. He's a bit of a joker Tony. But then he’s been carried off on a stretcher. I thought, 'No way he'd go that far!' I looked at his knee and it was like a balloon.

"Brian Horton said I was on but when I was coming out of the tunnel, (Newcastle assistant) Arthur Cox said, 'Let one in you or we'll sack you!'”

With City battling to preserve our top-flight status, Budgie was to more than prove his worth too as his man-of-the-match heroics helped City contain Keegan’s high-flying Magpies with the game ending in a goalless stalemate to effectively secure our Premier League status.

“I went out there and I had a blinder. I made three or four stops. I had to apologise to Kevin after the game and he said, 'Budgie, you have to do your job. We know what you're like.’” Burridge recalled.

In the process, Budgie achieved the notable distinction of becoming the oldest goalkeeper ever to appear for City.

                        POINTING THE WAY: John Burridge barks out instructions
POINTING THE WAY: John Burridge barks out instructions

It was to prove a double historic landmark as, in the process, Burridge further rewrote the record books by also becoming the Premier League’s oldest-ever player.

Not surprisingly, almost 25 years on, both records still stand today.

'The man who helped save us from relegation' was how Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher put it after the veteran keeper’s heroics.

Not surprisingly, with Dibble also ruled out with a groin strain, Budgie was entrusted with the goalkeeping gloves once again for our subsequent midweek encounter away at Aston Villa, where the spoils were once more shared in a 1-1 draw.

And he was to retain his place for City’s last two games of the campaign – a 1-0 loss away to Nottingham Forest before a 3-2 home defeat to Queen’s Park Rangers brought the season to a close.

That was to prove the end of Budgie’s brief spell at City but not his eventful career, with Burridge going on to spend time at a further 11 clubs before he finally hung up his gloves in 1997.

But, true to form, Budgie left a lasting impression on his short spell at Maine Road.