| Submit Comments| Comments (6)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapNOW AND THEN: Ian Brightwell in action against Eric Cantona (right) and now as a property developer Ian Brightwell spent his wages and his spare time well during his playing days with Manchester City. One of his younger team-mates, Garry Flitcroft, told him to invest in property - sound advice back in the 1990s when house prices were going up sharply. Brightwell sensibly took note of the tip, so much so that he is now making a career out of the property business himself after finally hanging up his boots three years ago. "It was Garry who originally got me involved. He started investing in property and went into it in a big way with a huge portfolio," recalled Brightwell. "For me it was nice to have an interest outside football, especially when you're involved in the game solidly for 25 years. "It was always my long-term aim to concentrate more on the business once I'd finished with my full-time football commitments. Nowadays I'm a lot more hands on and involved in buying and selling, renting and having property built." Brightwell also has a separate business with a close friend, building squash courts. "We install them for sports clubs and look after the maintenance, whether it is sanding or putting in new floors, cleaning the walls or fixing any problems." These days involvement with City extends to match day hospitality with Brightwell happily mixing with fans who not that long ago watched him play for the club. "Old players like Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell, Tony Book, Peter Barnes and Joe Corrigan meet and greet fans along with the likes of Paul Lake and myself who represent the 80s and 90s era," said Brightwell. "My first game working in the hospitality suites was the United match. I must admit I felt like I wanted to be out there playing again but I suppose the game is always so easy from the stands." Going back brings back memories for Brightwell, who clocked up more than 320 appearances for the club after starring in the side that famously won the FA Youth Cup in 1986. He recalls: "I spent 12 or 13 years there as a pro and supported the club as a kid so to actually play for them was a massive plus. It's always been regarded as a family-friendly club and I love going back there. "The 5-1 win over United in 1989 was obviously a highlight and in the same season I managed to score an equaliser at Old Trafford. I'd like to think I had a good relationship with the fans in a rocky period for the club. The club kept going up and down and we had 13 managers when I was there." Like every other fan, Brightwell looks on in amazement at the club's current wealth. He said: "To be honest, City have never been shy of spending money even going back to the Seventies. City money "Chelsea showed what money can do and the new owners have seen that as well. They have ideas for the club and have a project. It's not a two-minute wonder. Their aim is to make City the biggest club in the world and with that kind of backing they are on the right road. "It's brilliant for the club because we have been in shadow of United for the last 20 years and this is a great opportunity for City to win something and put themselves on an even keel with United." Brightwell was one of the game's most dedicated and durable players, making his last professional appearance for Macclesfield Town at the age of 39. I was lucky to play for that long but retired once I realised I couldn't keep the standards I'd set myself,? he admitted. "I would have hated to have been one of those players that just carried on and basically made a fool of themselves on the pitch. My body told me it was time to pack in." As the son of Olympic runners Ann Packer and Robbie Brightwell, it was inevitable he would be a natural athlete, his supreme fitness always evident on the football field where he was equally at home in defence or midfield. He also has a pedigree as a manager, albeit a short spell at Macclesfield where he was promoted from within after Paul Ince left to join MK Dons. "I'd been coaching for a few years and had learned a vast amount from the manager Brian Horton, having also been with him at Port Vale,? he said. "I was only in charge for seven months at the Moss Rose before I got the boot and Keith Alexander took over. I enjoyed the experience of managing and would certainly consider doing it again. We had to operate on a tight budget but I tried to play decent football and stick to my principles." These days Brightwell's buying and selling is in property rather than players. I'm learning as I go along and it is another string to my bow. I'm enjoying it." Unsurprisingly, he still keeps fit and last month ran the London Marathon with wife Sally. City certainly made a shrewd investment the day they signed a man who ended up running thousands of miles on the pitch sweating in the cause of the blue shirt. What are your memories of Brightwell? Have your say.| Submit Comments| Comments (6)| Printable VersionAdd A CommentEnter your comments:Type your comment here.