RUSHALL OLYMPIC FC
RUSHALL OLYMPIC FC
The Pics

DEAN KEATES

Immensely experienced midfield dynamo who arrived at Dales Lane during summer 2016 from Welsh Premier League outfit Rhyl, having made over 400 Football League appearances; captained a team to a Wembley FA Trophy success and won six Football League promotions with three different clubs during a long and extinguished career. He started out with hometown club Walsall, making his professional debut as a substitute in October 1996, but had to wait until January of the following year to his first full start for the club. He became a regular in the side during the 1997-98 campaign, despite being only 19 years of age, playing in 48 games in all competitions. He was a key member of the Saddlers' midfield in a successful 1998–99 season, playing in all but three games as Walsall won promotion to Division One as runners-up. However, relegation followed the next year as Walsall struggled to adapt, though the club immediately won promotion back to Division One with a 3–2 play-off final victory over Reading at the end of the 2000–01 campaign – with the midfielder playing for the full 120 minutes of the game, which ended in extra time. He only played 15 times during the 2001–02 campaign as Walsall survived in the division, but found himself released in July 2002. He subsequently moved to Division Three side Hull City, initially on a non-contract basis, in August 2002 and by the end of September, his displays had earned him a two-year contract, awarded to him by then Tigers manager Jan Mølby. He endured a lukewarm season at Hull, playing in 35 league games as they finished mid-table, but the following campaign, 2003–04, was more fruitful with Hull achieving promotion to the newly named League One as runners-up. However, he played no part in the campaign after December 2003 as a result of a knee injury proved his undoing and then couldn’t not force his way back into the team. In February 2004, Division Three side Kidderminster Harriers, managed by his former Hull boss Jan Mølby, signed him on a free transfer and he went on to play in eight games as Harriers avoided relegation back to the Football Conference. Although he then played 41 games during season 2004-05 he couldn’t prevent Kidderminster from being relegated and left Aggborough when his contract expired. In summer 2005 he signed for League Two side Lincoln City and went on to feature in 24 games, scoring four times for the Imps. However, on transfer deadline day 2006 he re-joined former club Walsall on a free transfer after his contract was cancelled at Lincoln by mutual consent, but couldn’t prevent the Saddlers from being relegated to League Two at the end of the campaign. Following the naming of Richard Money as the new Walsall manager in May 2006, he was appointed captain and went on to play a key role in Walsall's promotion as champions back to League One at the end of season 2006–07, scoring 13 goals and being named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year for 2006–07 – in addition to being named Walsall's Player of the Season. Despite the success, he turned down the opportunity to lead Walsall in League One by refusing the offer of a new contract and instead remained in League Two with Peterborough United after signing a three-year deal in May 2007. He went on to play 78 league games, scoring 11 goals, as the Posh achieved successive promotions to the Championship – but found himself released by Peterborough in December 2009, having not played a minute of football under new Posh manager Mark Cooper, and managing just 6 games and 1 goal against Newcastle United at St James Park in the 2009–10 season even before Cooper's arrival. In January 2010, he signed for League One side Wycombe Wanderers on a 6-month contract, ending speculation of a return to Walsall or a switch to League Two Torquay United, but was eventually released by Wycombe in May 2010. Two days after being released by Wycombe he signed for Conference National side Wrexham and was named captain for the season. During the 2010-11 campaign as skipper he led the side to a play-off semi-final against Luton Town but ultimately lost both legs of the games. For season 2011-12 he remained as captain and played in some major matches, including an FA Cup 3rd round match at Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion. A draw at the Albion's American Express Stadium meant a replay was to be played at The Racecourse which Wrexham lost 4–5 on penalties. Also that season he played in another play-off semi-final in which Wrexham lost again to Luton Town. In May 2012 he signed a new one-year deal, which turned out to be a superb season for the club as he captained the Dragons to their first ever appearance at Wembley when they lifted the FA Trophy with a penalty shoot-out win over Grimsby Town – climbing the stairs to Wembley's upper tier and lifted the Trophy in front of 35,000 people in March 2013. However, his return to the Stadium at the end of the campaign for the Conference play-off final was less successful. The game against Newport County, the first to feature two Welsh teams, saw Wrexham defeated 2–0 to condemn the Dragons to another season in the Conference. He then re-signed for Wrexham again on a one-year deal in May 2014, his fifth season with club, having become something of a cult hero at Wrexham showing great commitment to the club on and off the pitch – he even carried on in a match after breaking his collar bone!. He was released by Wrexham in May 2015 after making over 150 appearances for the side, as captain. However, prior to his departure there was to be one more Wembley appearance as the Dragons reached the final of the FA Trophy for the second time in three seasons – but his side fell to defeat against lower league side North Ferriby United. His next venture was to sign for Rhyl to compete in the 2015-16 Welsh Premier League season, despite interest in his services from both Football League and Conference sides. However, his link still remained with Wrexham when he also took up a coaching role at the ground-breaking Glyndŵr Wrexham Football Academy and looked to complete the final two years of his sports coaching degree at the Glyndŵr University.

Departed the club in October 2016 to take over as manager of National League club, Wrexham.