It’s fair to say that Wade Elliott has seen a lot in football.
From being released from the Southampton setup at 16, to his current post at Cheltenham Town, the 42-year-old has spent 26 years involved with the beautiful game.
There have been highs, such as a scoring the goal that sent Burnley to the Premier League for the first time, and of course lows, like losing his job at Bristol City following the arrival of Lee Johnson as manager.
But with his current employers flying at the summit of the League Two table, the odds are drastically shortening for Elliott to clinch a third promotion of his stellar career, and a first when operating the other side of the white line.
“I’ve enjoyed my time so far at Cheltenham, really enjoyed it,” the former midfielder enthusiastically told Park Life Sport.
“It is a really, really friendly club. The people are really good.
“Because of the way the results have gone, it’s been an enjoyable season up to this point. So it’s been a really good experience.”
Michael Duff has earned national plaudits for his role in progressing the Robins from the lower echelons of the League Two table to its peak, where they currently reside.
Throughout the six years that Elliott spent in Lancashire playing for Burnley, he shared a dressing room with his current boss who adorned claret and blue for 12 seasons.
The pair are held in high regard at Turf Moor, with both key men in the clubs famed promotion to the top flight in 2009.
Looking to replicate past glories in the West Country, the former Birmingham City man spoke of the bond he has with Duff, who he used to share lifts with in their playing days.
“It helps that we’ve known each other for a long time. He knows he knows my personality and I know his, so we’ve got a good relationship.
“We trust each other. He trusts my opinion, he trusts my work. So we’ve got a nice balance between us. He knew what he was getting himself into when he asked me to come in and work with him. It’s been good. I’ve really enjoyed it and he’s been really good.
“We’re a similar age, our career path was similar, we had a car share. We hit it off quite early, and were at Burnley together for a long time. When you spend that much time with somebody day in, day out and you spend overnights with them, you go away with them. Your teammates you get to know really well, you know their ins-and-outs.
“It’s a strong relationship, and it’s obviously endured up until this point.”
Elliott’s journey has been far from a simple one, having hung up his boots six years ago following a successful spell 40 miles down the M5 at Ashton Gate with Bristol City.
Captaining the club in what turned out to be one their great campaigns, Steve Cotterill’s men waltzed to the League One title, whilst also triumphing in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, becoming the most successful team in the competition’s history.
However, Elliott then traded his armband for a set of cones and a whistle, becoming the club’s Under-21’s manager ahead of the 2015/16 season.
Though, following a poor run of form, first-team manager Cotterill was relieved of his duties, and the hierarchy in BS3 drafted in Elliott alongside John Pemberton, with the simple task of steadying the ship until a replacement was found.
The pair got off to the perfect start, beating Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough 1-0 to end a run of ten consecutive clean sheets for the Teesiders.
“It was a really big moment. We stayed out after training the day before, and Bobby was on corners. He was practising his delivery, Flinty stayed out and was heading them in, and Wes was around too,” Elliott reminisced.
“The next day we got a corner in the 90th minute, Bobby swung it in, and then Wes scored. The atmosphere was really good, and then it’s a different type of reward.
“That’s probably my first experience of going from a player to a coach, just that little bit of working with Bobby on the corner the day before and us scoring. It’s a completely different type of buzz.”
With Johnson at the helm, the Robins comfortably beat the drop, winning six of the 16 games he took charge of at the tail end of the campaign.
Though this proved to be the last Bristol City fans saw of Wade Elliott.
“Lee wanted his own coaching staff, which happens,” he confesses. “I was disappointed because I’d set down roots in the area, and I did see myself being at Bristol City for a significant time, maybe that was a bit naive of me because football doesn’t work like that.”
“That was a difficult summer because I’d gone from a job that I really enjoyed doing, at a club that I saw myself being at for a long time, to being out of work for the first time in 15 or 16 years, or probably longer, and being a little bit lost about what to do with it.”
“I got the number of Mark Cooper at Forest Green, who I didn’t really know before, and I asked to go and see him. I went to see him and explained my situation, that I was in the middle of my coaching badges, could I come in and do a few hours coaching there?
“He was really good, really open with me. Allowed me to come in, and I ended up coaching there for a little while and it proved to be a good experience.”
Despite his current employers Cheltenham flying at the top of the League Two table, and earning national praise for a resilient showing against Premier League leaders Manchester City, Elliott is refusing to get carried away as the season nears its climax.
The Robins, who possess the division’s best away record, have a three point lead over fourth-placed Tranmere Rovers.
“We’re just taking it game by game,” he expressed.
“The confidence that the players garnered from going toe-to-toe with Man City for so long gives you real belief that, so long as they prepare properly, and their mentality and focus are right, we can give anybody a decent game.
“Which is quite a powerful thing.”