Paul Malone says he is “humbled” to have played in the same side as the now retired Leon McKenzie.
The experienced frontman, who played in the Premier League for Norwich City as well as having spells at Peterborough United, Crystal Palace, Coventry City, Northampton Town and Kettering Town, called time on his football career following Corby Town’s 2-1 win over Boston United on New Year’s Day.
McKenzie came off the bench for the final 27 minutes of the clash, having signed for the Steelmen during the summer.
But he is now set to focus on a career in boxing having recently released his autobiography, which included an insight into his battle with depression that led to a suicide attempt.
And Corby defender Malone, who headed a dramatic stoppage-time winner against Boston, was full of praise for the role the departing striker has played at Steel Park during the last few months.
“Leon has been superb,” Malone said.
“For me, personally, I was in and out of the side and if you have players at your club like Leon then you can pick up the phone at any time and ask for advice.
“I have played with a lot of ex-pros who never gave you that time of day. But the likes Leon, Jason Crowe and even Andy Holt in the summer always made time for the youngsters.
“They would have loved for someone to put their arm around them when they were young players and that’s why they do it now.
“I am humbled to have played in the same team as someone like Leon, he is top lad.”
Corby boss Chris Plummer also paid tribute to McKenzie’s influence on his team.
He added: “Leon has been great.
“We have a very young squad that is learning the game and to have someone of his experience has been great for us.
“He has been excellent and it would have been easy for him to walk away when I took over (following Ian Sampson’s resignation) in September but he didn’t.
“I just wish him all the best with his boxing and anything else he decides to do going forward.”