CITY staff past and present have paid tribute to fans’ favourite Mat Birley after the winger hung up his boots following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at home to Highgate United.
The defeat saw City end the season 11th in the Midland Premier League and the Blue and Whites were led out by Birley and his children for his final game in a City shirt.
Speaking to the club’s website, Birley hailed the club’s last game at their historic St George’s Lane in front of 4,000 fans as his most memorable moment.
“It was day of mixed emotions but such a great atmosphere,” he said.
The winger is now looking at getting into coaching and has been shadowing coaches at Birmingham City’s under 14s academy at the club where he started his career.
“This season I’ve had a great insight working alongside Snapper (John Snape) and Ash (Ashley Vincent) and that’s really made me want to become a coach,” he said.
“It’s been brilliant to learn off some great coaches at Blues. It would be fantastic for me to go back to where it all began and help the next generation of players into the first team.”
City boss Snape said: “As we dropped the levels my first call was to Mat who at the time was with Halesowen and he jumped at the chance to play for the club again.
“I have always said there are not many players I would pay to watch in non-League but Mat is an exception to that.
“He moves on now hopefully into a permanent coaching role at the club where it all began and we wish him all the very best.”
Keeper Sam Gilder has also decided to hang up his gloves at the end of the season at the age of 31.
“It was something I thought about last summer, but I then decided to give one more year.
“I think it’s the right time for me retire now. I’ve only recently turned 31 and, although it still seems young to stop playing, it’s the right time,” he said.