As a Saddlers fan for just over 15 years it is hard to imagine the club without Ian Roper. If ever there was a stereotypical image of a lower league defender then Ropes just about sums it up!
It is strange to think that Roper nearly didn't make it at Walsall and we have instincts of former boss Chris Nicholl to thank that he did.
Roper joined the club in 1995 as a trainee and in all honesty didn't look great! Nicholl however put his faith in him and during a roller coaster 12 years Roper has always put his heart and soul into his performances.
As a trainee Roper never looked comfortable on the ball but over time he has taken massive steps forward and formed some of our best defensive partnerships in years alongside Adrian Viveash and last season Ant Gerrard.
Roper is certainly not a goal scorer and last season's 4 goals increased his career goals tally by 200%!
Having said this it is what Roper does at the back that makes him special. Ok so he isn't the neatest or most tactically aware defender in the world but he is never in any doubt when the ball needs to be belted over the stand!
His contribution and consistent displays have been marked in recent years when he was named Walsall player of the year and only last season became Walsall's first entry into football magazine Four Four Two's Top 50 Players from the Football League.
With the new season just around the corner here's hoping for more of the same from one of Walsall's greatest servants.
What are your memories and opinions of Roper, let us know in our forum.
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