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Just three years ago, Aden Flint was helping Bristol City to get out of League One, since then he has grown in quality and has earned himself a contract extension until 2021.
The hard work of Flint had attracted the interest of clubs as varied as West Brom, Derby County, Fulham and Birmingham City, but the Bristol City board and the manager Lee Johnson have convinced the former Swindon Town player that his future lies at Bristol City.
He and his teammates have a tough job on their hands for the rest of the season as they compete with the teams around them for a place in the playoffs and then a shot at the Premier League, and having his future sorted out will help to settle him for an important run in to the end of the season.
The 28-year-old former England ‘C’ international began his career in the Midlands with Alfreton Town, a non-league club from Derbyshire, where he helped them reach the playoffs in 2009-10 and was first scouted by Derby County and Luton Town.
The Alfreton chairman Wayne Bradley claimed they turned down 12 bids for the player as he excelled at non-league level. In the end, he signed for Swindon Town and became a key part of the squad as they won the League Two title in 2012, before scoring a goal against Stevenage to secure their place in the League One playoffs a year later.
He signed for Bristol City to help lead them back to the Championship and that is exactly what they did, earning himself a player of the year award and the Johnston’s Paint Trophy in the process. As Bristol City kicked on in the Championship, the defensive solidity of Flint is a key part in explaining their remarkable rise up the table this season.
Without Flint, Bristol City may well have expected to drop out of the Playoff positions this season, and they would find it very difficult to find a replacement for a player of his calibre.
For Lee Johnson, it makes perfect sense to tie him down to a long contract and ensure that he stays with City for as long as possible. As his experience and playing level improves perhaps he will look to move on, but for now, there is no better club for Flint than City.