by Ben Baker
PROVING age is nothing but a number, Plymouth Argyle captain Curtis Nelson is determined to bring the glory days back to Home Park.
After being released by Premier League Stoke City at the age of 16, Nelson found a new home in Plymouth and quickly found his feet.
Now, still just 22, the defender has more than 200 appearances to his name and is captain of a side who sat top of the League Two table heading into the New Year and have serious designs on promotion.
That would be a welcome change for Nelson who, during his time at the club, has seen the Pilgrims slip from the Championship to the fourth tier, and twice narrowly avoid dropping out of the Football League altogether – whilst battling administration.
While the task of being captain at such a tender age might seem like a big ask, Nelson doesn’t appear fazed by the responsibility, with manager Derek Adams and coach Paul Wotton – the latter having skippered Plymouth to two titles in three years during his playing days – both praising a wise head on young shoulders.
Nelson says his affinity with the club is what helps him take it all in his stride as he bids to keep the Pilgrims on course to climb back up the football Pyramid.
“First and foremost, it is not about what I do as an individual but rather what we do as a team,” Nelson said. “While it is nice to have people praise my captaincy, my main focus is to get promoted and anything else is a bonus.
“Things have been going well for me and the club this season on the whole but I am just taking everything one game at a time.
“Having said that, it would mean a hell of a lot for me to get this club promoted and to start climbing the leagues again considering how long I have been at the club and what it means to me.
“An achievement that every footballer wants on his CV is to get promoted and I am no different.
“I have been at Plymouth for quite a while already and it would mean so much to me to earn promotion.
“Me and the club have been through a lot, what with the dark days of administration and the relegations. So to get the club back where it belongs and where we were would be special.”
It was former manager Peter Reid who first saw enough in a teenage Nelson to hand him a starting role back in Plymouth’s 2010-11 League One campaign.
Fast forward to this season and the captain has been at the heart of a Pilgrims defence that leaked just 20 goals in their first 24 league games.
Current manager Adams has publicly announced himself as part of the Nelson fan club as well, but the skipper is adamant his teammates make his job far easier.
“It is nice to hear praise about being captain, but I can’t take all the credit as the players I have around me really help me out,” he added. “I am still at quite a young age and I still have plenty to learn. I am grateful to have such great people, players and coaches around to help me do that.
“Everyone is pulling in the same direction and that is to get promoted. There is also a real drive from behind the scenes to improve the club in every aspect.”