The most popular pick of the two centre-backs named in the Coventry City Team of the Decade, the academy graduate and Checkatrade Trophy-winning captain, Jordan Willis, was voted centre-back of the decade by 35.3% of respondents.
Like Cyrus Christie, Jordan Willis was handed his league debut for the club as a result of the cost-cutting measures put in place by SISU towards the end of our time in the Championship that forced the academy into prominence. Unlike Christie, Willis was spared the ordeal of that difficult Championship relegation season, making just two further appearances after his debut as a substitute at the Ricoh Arena against Southampton.
Impressing in his first appearances with his energy and determination in the challenge, Jordan Willis spent much of his first few years in the first-team being seen as a player of considerable potential but not quite first-choice. A combination of injury problems and being caught between being a serviceable right-back and an inexperienced centre-back meant that Willis had yet to make a spot in the first-team his own despite racking up a considerable number of appearances.
Willis’ first full season of being one of the first names on the team-sheet unfortunately coincided with our relegation from League One. For someone who had already played a lot of first-team football, it was apparent that Willis was still a young man who could have done with more reliable senior players around him to flourish. However, the Checkatrade Trophy victory that season – with Jordan Willis lifting the trophy as captain – demonstrated that, away from the pressure of league football, there was the ability and mental strength in abundance to form a part of the success that was to follow.
Jordan Willis was one of the few Checkatrade Trophy winners to play a regular role in the League Two promotion-winning side. It was during those last two seasons at the club that Willis was finally able to consistently demonstrate what he was capable of in central defence, where his combination of determination and pace allowed the team to push further up the pitch in the knowledge that they had that cover to fall back on that Willis could provide.
Involved in both relegations, the Checkatrade Trophy win and League Two promotion, Jordan Willis’ symbolised the decline and renaissance of the club over the past decade, emerging as a necessity as the result of SISU’s budget cut-backs but going on to make more appearances than anyone else as a result of his versatility, determination and reliability. In so many ways, Jordan Willis was Coventry City of the 2010 decade.