The second-most popular player in their position in the voting, Cyrus Christie was the clear winner as Coventry City’s right-back in the Team of the Decade with 65.1% of the vote.
The first academy-produced player to be named in the team, Christie’s first season as a first-team player saw him thrown into the lion’s den of a Championship relegation battle, alongside other academy graduates, Gael Bigirimana and Conor Thomas, largely as a result of the budget-cutting that SISU were enacting when they realised that their plan to get the club quickly promoted into the Premier League had failed.
Christie was a surprise pick upon his debut on the opening day of the 2011/12 season against Leicester City, with fellow academy graduate Jordan Clarke being the more senior player at the time. However, a strong showing in that game set the tone for a series of promising and enterprising performances during the opening weeks of the campaign, despite the team’s poor form.
After dropping out of the side over the course of that campaign, Christie really hit his stride as the collective confidence of the team improved during Mark Robins’ first spell at the club. Not only was he blessed with pace and skill, but his physical stature saw opposition defenders cower from him whenever he ran at them at full flow. It was almost possible to see the confidence flowing through as he took on more enterprising attacking positions and increasingly became a goal threat himself – scoring a wonderful first goal for the club with a characteristic drag back after an attacking surge during a 5-1 drubbing of Walsall.
Between the end of 2011 and the first few months of the 2012/13 season, Cyrus Christie was the chief attacking outlet for the team due to the consistent drive and purposefulness from that right-back position, dominating his side of the pitch much like a world-class winger in rugby. In that exciting Sixfields team featuring future Premier League players in Callum Wilson and John Fleck, Christie was the star turn during the opening months of the season, attracting scouting interest from the highest level.
An injury around October seemed to provide Christie with a pause to weigh up his options with his contract running down at the end of the campaign. Whether it was down to a loss of focus or a natural dip in form that comes after a young player makes their breakthrough, he was a more subdued player in the second half of his final season at the club.
That side, few have been able to replicate the sheer panic that Christie was so consistently capable of engendering in those commanding attacking charges from right-back. What we were watching between his debut and the start of that final season with us was a young player discovering just how good he could be, learning to dominate in his area of the pitch. At his very best, Cyrus Christie was truly a force of nature.