Jack Lester: Chesterfield's 'Brazilian Shearer'

 

There are not many players who can spend their entire career outside of the top flight and still be compared to Eusebio, Robinho and a "Brazilian Alan Shearer".

In fact, Chesterfield striker Jack Lester is probably the only one and it's all because of a friendship with a well-known England cricketer, Newcastle United fan and prolific tweeter.

"That'll be Graeme Swann," Lester replies when asked who could possibly have referred to him as "the Robinho of League Two".

"He was at Nottinghamshire back when I was with Nottingham Forest and our wives knew each other so we got to being friends from that.

"I think that praise is a bit tongue in cheek really but Graeme's a good lad and he's great company."

'My hero'

Graeme Swann has been very forthright in his praise for Lester. Below is a small collection of Swann's tweets on the Spireites striker:

  • I see Jack Lester put his superhero cape on again last night #themoderndayeusebio
  • On the subject of footballing heroes, Jack Lester banged in two more for the Spireites last night
  • I want to give a shout out to Jack Lester for his hat-trick yesterday. He's the Robinho of Npower League Two.
  • He's better than Robinho. Ronaldo? Rivaldo? Zico? Surely I can't say Pele?!
  • My hero

The 37-year-old former Grimsby, Forest and Sheffield United striker has cultivated a reputation that has seen him adored by Ashes winning Test bowlers and fans alike.

Despite never having laced his boots for a Premier League game, the Sheffield-born striker is known throughout the Football League as a player of nous, quality and whose skills exceed his relatively humble achievements.

Rather than pointing to his impressive goalscoring record, which has seen him score 144 goals from 380 league starts, Lester believes it is his work-rate that has endeared him to supporters.

"It's nice to think that people have liked me through my career," he said.

"I think fans appreciate players who give their all and I like to think that I've always done that even if I haven't always been on top form.

"You don't always have the best game but if you've put everything in then people respect you, that's something I've learned from my time in the game."

Lester's age is a subject that is coming up with increasing regularity when people talk about the Sheffield United fan, who counts his 15 months with Neil Warnock's Blades as one of the highlights of his career.

He celebrated his 37th birthday earlier in the week and, with his contract up at the end of the season, fans, fellow players and even the man himself have acknowledged that his time as 'super Jack' may be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

Lester factfile

Jack Lester and Chesterfield team-mates in 2011
  • Born in Sheffield on 8 October 1975
  • Makes 134 league appearances for Grimsby before moving on to Nottingham Forest for £300,000 in January 2000
  • Scores 21 goals in 99 games for Forest
  • Joins Sheffield United in July 2003, notches 12 goals in 44 games
  • Returns to the City Ground for £50,000 in September 2004 and moves to Chesterfield in June 2007 after a further 13 goals in 76 games for the Reds
  • Has hit 80 goals in 174 league matches for the Spireites and helped them to promotion from League Two in 2010/11 and captained the side to victory in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in 2011/12

"On the one hand I'm thinking I want to stay involved in the game in some capacity, whether that be coaching or managing, but then I scored five goals quite quickly this season so it makes me think that maybe I could keep playing beyond the season.

"I'm 50/50 about if this is going to be my last season, I'll have to see how I'm feeling in March and if anyone wants me."

Despite admitting that this could be his final campaign, Lester is clearly a man who still gets a buzz from playing the game he loves.

On the subject of the Spireites signing former Arsenal, Fulham and West Ham winger Luis Boa Morte he enthused: "It's fantastic, it's exciting for all of us.

"He's had a wonderful career and hopefully he'll help to bring some more fans in, which I think would be really brilliant. It's a great bit of business for the club."

The future may see him make a step into the unknown, Lester is currently reading 'The Chimp Paradox' by British Cycling Psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters and describes psychology as an area he is "very interested" in.

But if the striker, who considers his longevity his greatest achievement, does call it a day at the end of the season he will do so at ease with his career.

"I don't have any regrets, if you look back you're just wasting your time. I concentrate on looking forward."

BBC Sport will be taking a closer look at stories from outside the Premier League before every weekend league programme in our Football League Friday features.