Former Addick Dean Kiely has spoken of his pride after being voted into the Charlton Athletic Hall of Fame.
“It’s an amazing honour. I feel really proud,” he said.
“I’ve said many times that the club’s golden era was when I played and that was the highlight of my career too, for those two things to merge together it’s been great and now to be recognised is amazing after how it all panned out.”
Kiely arrived from Bury in 1999 and was given the number one shirt immediately, helping Alan Curbishley’s side win the First Division title and a return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
When asked about his emotions during the move, Kiely said: “It was exciting when I heard I was coming to Charlton, me and my family weren't from the area, so it was a big upheaval to move down here and commit to the football club.
“Hypothetically you want things to go well and impress, luckily enough I was straight into the team. We got promoted and were never really in a relegation battle. We always gave a good account of ourselves. It couldn’t have gone better individually and as a team during that period.”
Kiely quickly became a fan favourite and is known as arguably one of the greatest goalkeepers to don the gloves for Charlton, making 248 appearances between the sticks in many memorable seasons for the Addicks.
Receiving 66% of the vote for the period between 1981 and the present day, Kiely spoke on his relationship with the people who voted to induct him into the hall of fame, the Charlton Athletic fans.
He said: “I always think as a goalkeeper, you’re closest to the fans. They always tell you things - good or bad, and you’ll always hear it on the pitch. From my point of view, fans react to players that give a good account of themselves, work hard and give their all for the club. That’s what I tried to do and make a positive contribution.
“For us to be so successful during that period, with me playing most weeks was incredible. Also, to be able to make a contribution to a group of lads that Alan Curbishley recruited and put together was phenomenal. In terms of the fans, they look back on that era fondly. People that tweet me now are in their 30s and 40s who were youngsters at the time. It’s all very positive.”
Kiely won Player of the Year on two separate occasions for the Addicks – 2002 and 2004, the latter being the season in which the Addicks recorded their highest ever Premier League finish, however his favourite memory was simply being part of the journey.
Kiely explained: “One year we were the best team in London in terms of head to head, beating Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham. All those sort of things were big deals but for me to be a Charlton player was the highlight. We faced some world class players and teams and got the better of them. We showed we were more than little old Charlton!”
Article by Nick Emms