Popular winger Jerome Thomas has said he is “just happy to be back playing” and that manager Bruno Ribeiro and coach Andy Smith “are the reason I signed.”
Thomas was speaking to the media ahead of the visit to Charlton, one of the winger’s former clubs.
After the Fleetwood game, Vale coach Andy Smith said Thomas is the best winger in League One, but the veteran added: “I think Andy is looking for a few free drinks at our Christmas do! Andy and Bruno are the reason I’m here. They are the reason I signed and they explained to me the freedom I’d have in terms of playing and it was important for me to get back playing after missing so many years.
“I’ve effectively missed four years of playing consistently, which is a lot when you look at a footballer’s career. Then you have people who make assumptions that when you are not playing it’s down to injures, and then you get labelled injury prone.
“They are the issues I’ve had to face but I’m not really one of those people who lets it affect me. I just stay positive and I’m just happy to be back playing.”
As an elder player, Thomas is also trying to help the youngsters in Vale’s squad. He told the media: “If I’m honest I’ve tried to do it with all of the players, and especially the foreign players. I’ve tried to help them in so many ways. I helped five or six of them get car insurance when they came here, I’ve helped them with cycling shorts and winter wear and boots. I just try and help out where I can.
“I remember when I was young and I was looking at all of these big players and you would wish they would talk to you or help you or give you advice and to be honest there wasn’t much of that at Arsenal. Thierry Henry was the only one I had a speaking relationship with. We weren’t even allowed to go in the same entrance as first-team players.
“I think because of that I try to be hands-on and help them and that’s what I’m here to do at the end of the day I try to lead by example on the pitch and help them as much as I can off it with my experiences.
“All you can do is try and they’ll either take it on board or they won’t but that’s my job to try and give them what I’ve learnt in my career and let them take it on and become better professionals from it.”