Glasgow Clan coach Pete Russell has hailed forward Matt Haywood after the player become the first in the club’s history to reach and breach the 500 appearance mark earlier this week.
The 28-year-old notched up the figure in Thursday’s 2-0 win at Milton Keynes Lightning and will be commemorated at their first home game since on Sunday when they take on Guildford Flames.
And Russell reckons it’s impossible for anyone to not like Matt, who joined the club for their first season back in 2010.
“I’ve known Matt since he was 13 or 14 when he was coming through the youth systems and pushed on into the national team set up where I first really worked with him in the Under 20’s,” Russell recalled.
“He was a performer in that team as we won the gold medal and from a coach’s point of view, he’s easy to work with and he knows his role.
“Matt’s a hard worker and a great team-mate. Everyone likes him and he’s maybe more vocal now he’s older, but you can’t not like him.
“For a guy to have been here from the start and not only reach 500 games for the club, but be around to earn a testimonial is quite incredible.”
Russell, who tried to sway him away from the Clan in 2010 when he was coach at Slough Jets, also spoke of how the Haywood he knew as a teenager has developed into a leader in the locker room.
He added: “Matt, from when he started out, has got leadership qualities in his game now and when he talks, people will listen.
“Right now, he has a confidence about the way he plays, which we maybe haven’t seen for a few years and he’s enjoying himself.
“There’s been a core of players at other clubs throughout the league, like Jonathan Phillips at Sheffield that rack up big appearance numbers.
“Matt’s getting into that sort of territory now, although he’s maybe got there more quietly so to see him up there with numbers like that is awesome.
“It’s great for the club to have a cult player like that who has been around for that long and it shows great commitment from him. He obviously feels at home here.
“But the fans appreciate him too and he plays with a heart which they like. There’s no doubt how highly the Purple Army appreciate a guy like Matt Haywood.”