During a busy summer of transfer activity all round the next player in our 21 Who Broke Through series was himself on the 'transfer-merry-go-round.'
After a successful loan spell with Derby County last season, which led to promotion back to the top flight, Tyrone Mears secured a permanent move to Pride Park in a £1m deal from West Ham United.
Mears’ new manager, Billy Davies, waxed lyrically on the day he announced the three-year deal for Tyrone.
He declared: "We are delighted to complete this deal because Tye is a very good young full-back with excellent pace and potential.
"We need him for the challenge ahead and I know he is committed to working hard with us because he has the exciting potential to improve still further."
Davies’ words were backed up by City’s Academy Manager, Jim Cassell, who told mcfc.co.uk: “Tye’s helped Derby back in to the Premier League after a good season with them on loan from West Ham. His career to date has been very much been an up and down ride having suffered a lot with injuries.
“But with his move it is important that he gets a run in the top flight because he’s certainly good enough to play there. He’ll play a vital part in Derby County staying up this season.”
Mears made his one and only City appearance in a 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest back in March 2002. He replaced the Forest legend and former Blues boss Stuart Pearce on that day in a game that was maybe better remembered for Darren Huckerby's hat-trick.
A surprise transfer to Preston North End came about at the end of that season where he would link up with another member of our 21WBT, Dickson Etuhu, an interesting move as Jim Cassell noted: “Tyrone was another player in the Dickson mould that we didn’t want to lose.
“If you are being quite cynical you might say there was a pathway to Preston that maybe a detective might link something to it, but without any evidence, we won’t say anything further than that!”
His successful spell at Deepdale then led to a £1m switch to West Ham United ahead of the 2006/07 season, but the Stockport-born right back didn’t settle into life with the Hammers and moved north to Derby in a loan deal in January 2007 where he played his part in their push for promotion.
And it all could have turned out so differently for Tyrone as Barry Poynton reveals that it could have been Super League and not Premier League for the speedy full back.
With a rye smile the Blues’ Academy Recruitment Officer said: “Tyrone Mears has a good story to him.
“A scout had mentioned him, so we went to see him playing for Oldham Schools at Under 14 level, the problem was that he had a schoolboy contract and a professional contract guaranteed at Warrington Rugby League Club!
“He was a fantastic rugby league player and could be playing Super League now. That’s where his career was and the hardest bit with Tyrone and his parents was convincing them his future was as a footballer.”
Despite his love of ‘football’ with the wrong shaped ball, Mears has gone on to prove himself as a ‘soccer’ player, as former team mate and recent Macclesfield signing Terry Dunfield recalls of Tyrone.
“He was a very strong, quick right back who had good feet. He was a really good guy, you could not meet a nicer person than Tyrone.
“He had a couple of really bad years with injury after he went to Preston, but I’m really pleased for him that he came through that and I think he did well for Derby at the end of last season.”
And with an important season ahead of Mears, Jim Cassell thinks he’ll be a success, but knows it’s another feather in the cap of Manchester City’s Academy.
Jim concluded by saying: “It’s difficult to find players that are capable, strong enough and quick enough to play in the Premier League and I think he’s got all of those qualities. If he’s managed to put his injury problems behind him then he’ll be a terrific player.
“He’s another local boy that we picked up and what a good advert for our Academy that he’s back in the top flight."
The 21 Who Broke Through
Number 7: Tyrone Mears
Date of birth: February 18, 1983
City first team debut: v Nottingham Forest, Maine Road, March 30, 2002
Games played for City: 1
Goals scored for City: 0
Left City for: Preston North End in July 2002 for £200,000