MADE IT TO THE TOP: Marc Edworthy in action for Norwich City against West Ham United in 2004.
AS one of the most successful footballers to step out of North Devon, Marc Edworthy can reflect on a glittering career.
In 18 years as a professional, the Bideford man has sampled the tension of play-off finals at Wembley and the Millennium Stadium.
Winning promotion to the Premier League on four occasions, he went face to face with some of the world's most skilful wingers.
Quite an achievement for a prospect who started his football education with Bideford Blues and Bideford College.
Now Edworthy is ready to call time on playing days that have included spells at Crystal Palace, Coventry City, Norwich City and Derby County.
He said: "I'm 37 this year, I've had a fantastic career and I can't really complain.
"I've been lucky enough to have played at the top level, played for some fantastic clubs and with some fantastic players."
As a right-back, the list of talent Edworthy faced is rather daunting. Ryan Giggs, Marc Overmars, Robert Pires, David Ginola, Arjen Robben and Thierry Henry have all been known to showcase their skills on the left flank.
"Unfortunately they were all lightning fast," said Edworthy.
No slouch himself, he was only 15 when he was spotted playing for Appledore in the South Western League by Plymouth Argyle coach Geoff Crudgington. Starting off on a YTS contract, he had four successful years at Home Park.
"It was a boyhood dream to go down there," said Edworthy. "Especially when Peter Shilton took over as manager with John McGovern and Ian Bowyer, who were all part of the Nottingham Forest team that won the European Cup.
"When I was playing for Appledore I never thought eventually I would make it. Everybody wants to be a footballer at that age, but there are a lot of players who slip through the net.
"If you don't make it first of all, don't give up. There are plenty of players who get noticed at a later stage and become fantastic players."
A £350,000 switch to Crystal Palace followed and Edworthy played twice for the Eagles in old Division One play-off finals at Wembley. The heartbreak of extra-time defeat to Leicester City in 1996 was followed a year later by the euphoria of a 1-0 win over Sheffield United.
"After losing the first play-off final, to go back the next year was a great highlight," he said. "A lot of family and friends from back down in Bideford were there to support me and it was a very proud day."
In 1998, Edworthy moved to Coventry City in a transfer eventually worth £1.5 million and played alongside Dion Dublin, Gary McAllister, George Boateng and Darren Huckerby. He even managed to score a rare goal in the top flight, when Coventry drew with Manchester City.
"It was fantastic to go on Match Of The Day and do an interview," said Edworthy."I think they realised the amount of games I'd played and thought it would be a bit of a joke to interview me.
"My goalscoring record over my career has been appalling considering I started out playing as a right-winger.
"If I had my career again I'd definitely shoot a lot more!"
After his contract expired in 2002, Edworthy joined Wolves, winning another play-off final, this time as an unused substitute against Sheffield United at the Millennium Stadium in 2003.
But he missed out on a deal the following season and joined Norwich City.Playing 44 out of 46 league games, Edworthy was a key part of the Championship winning team in 2003/04, an achievement he rates as his best.
Three seasons with Derby County brought another play-off triumph, this time at the new Wembley Stadium against West Bromwich Albion in 2007.
And last term, in the "twilight" of his career, Edworthy's experience proved vital at Leicester City, winning the League One title.
A short-term deal with Burton Albion "didn't work out" and Edworthy, who still lives in the Derby area, is grateful to have more time to spend with wife Becky and three sons, Callum, 10, Bradley, seven, and Kieran, four.
"Family is the most important thing," he said. "They have followed me around all my career. I'm spending a lot of time with my kids now, which is great."
While Edworthy plans to finish his coaching badges, he has no immediate plans to become a coach and may pursue a career in property development.
Edworthy is expected to line-up in the Plymouth Argyle Legends team for Hector Christie's testimonial game at Appledore on Sunday (2pm).
The Argyle squad, managed by John Hore, could also include Kevin Nancekivell, Kevin Hodges, Leigh Cooper and Micky Evans.
The star attraction in Christie's Select XI is former Scotland and Liverpool midfielder McAllister.
Former Exeter City hard man Frank Howarth and Torquay United legend Kevin Hill are also set to turn out alongside many of Christie's ex-team-mates.
All proceeds from the gate will go towards a charity dedicated to keeping GM crops out of the UK.