Steve Perryman: Exeter City director of football prepares for final home game

Steve Perryman
Steve Perryman joined Exeter City in the summer of 2003

Whether Exeter City make it to Wembley or not on Thursday, the club's League Two play-off second leg marks the end of an era for the Devon club.

Steve Perryman - their director of football - retires after 15 years service at St James Park.

In that time, he has seen the club rise from near financial oblivion in non-league to being near to the third tier.

"I'm going to miss turning up here every day, working with terrific colleagues," he told BBC Sport.

The 66-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur captain added: "The players, the staff, the volunteers, they're a real good group of people that are pulling in the same direction.

"To get up in the morning, drive for 10 minutes and come to this is fantastic."

'His influence emanates all the way through the club'

Steve Perryman and Paul Tisdale watch a game from the stands
Steve Perryman has been alongside Paul Tisdale (right) during his entire 12-year tenure as Exeter City boss

From 1969 to 1986 Perryman made a club-record 854 appearances in all competitions for Spurs as a player - only Ryan Giggs has made more top-flight appearances for one club than him - and won one England cap.

Few clubs in League Two can boast someone in their backroom team with as much experience.

He was also manager at Brentford, Watford and Japanese sides Shimizu S-Pulse and Kashiwa Reysol. Added to that, he has been caretaker manager of Spurs for one game in 1994, and served the same role for two matches at Exeter a decade later.

"His input and contribution to Exeter City has been enormous, from a very vulnerable and weak moment in the club's history right through to now which is arguably the healthiest," said current Exeter boss Paul Tisdale.

"It's very hard to quantify that level of contribution, but Steve arrived when credibility was probably at its lowest and he's personally taken it upon himself to influence disciplines at the club, the themes by which we work to, the way we treat each other and creating an environment that gives young players and senior players an opportunity.

"I think he's personally added value to numerous players who've gone on to do very, very well for themselves.

"It's not just the first team, his influence emanates all the way through the club and he's been a very big factor in the success of Exeter in the last 15 years.

"On a personal note he's been my partner in all of this, we've been side-by-side and he's always been there to support me and give me advice or just confirm what I'm already doing when I need some encouragement."

'Someone that will be sorely missed'

Steve Perryman and Ossie Ardiles hold up the FA Cup after Spurs' victory in the 1981 final replay
Steve Perryman and Ossie Ardiles hold up the FA Cup after Spurs' victory in the 1981 final replay

Perryman has seen some of the most famous moments in Exeter's history - holding Manchester United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford in the FA Cup third round as a non-league side, taking Liverpool to a replay at the same stage last season, and back-to-back promotions from the Conference to League One.

But in another way Perryman almost owes his life to City - he suffered a torn aortic valve during a game in May 2012 and was airlifted to hospital fighting for his life.

If he had been taken ill elsewhere - without the medical teams that are at football grounds - he may well have died.

So when he comes on to the field as a member of the coaching staff for one final time at St James Park, many will hope he gets the send-off that someone of his stature deserves.

"Hopefully he'll get a fantastic reception," midfielder Lloyd James told BBC Sport.

"He's been brilliant since the day I came here, he's a real livewire around the place, he keeps everybody happy.

"But at the same time he's not afraid to dig people out and have a few strong words if he thinks something needs to be said.

"He's quality to have around the place and someone that will be sorely missed when he leaves."