HE LED Crystal Palace out at Wembley as captain in an FA Cup final, lifted the Zenith Data Systems Cup there and earned some of his nine England caps on the famous turf – but Geoff Thomas is still disappointed by the outcome of his last match at the national stadium.

The veteran midfielder came off the bench for the Reds in the 4-2 play-off final loss to Ipswich Town.

He said: “It was an excellent game between two top teams.

“I would have loved to have won at Wembley in one of my last games so I am disappointed we didn’t pull it off.

“But I loved every single minute of my time at Barnsley.

“I had been an electrician before I was a footballer so I really appreciated everything I achieved.

“It was fantastic to have such a good season and to play in a Wembley final.”

Thomas had suffered a serious knee injury in a Premiership game at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge after helping Dave Bassett’s Nottingham Forest to promotion.

By the time he was fit again, Bassett was Barnsley manager and brought him to Oakwell at the age of 35.

He scored in his second league game, seconds after coming off the bench in a 1-0 home win over Swindon Town.

“Bruce Dyer was sitting next to me on the bench but I came on instead.

“There were some rumblings in the crowd when this older midfielder came on when a goal was desperately needed. Fortunately I got on the end of a cross and things changed with the fans.

“That’s what football is like.

“After that, I really enjoyed my time at the club.

“I was always going to be in and out of the team because I was chasing my top fitness levels.

“But I felt I could help with my experience in the dressing room.

“There was some tremendous talent in that team and I just wanted to help in any way I could.’”

Thomas, who played 47 games for the Reds, had begun to take his coaching badges and take charge of the reserves at Oakwell before moving on to Crewe Alexandra.

But his plans for a coaching career were derailed by a diagnosis of leukaemia in 2003.

He recovered and founded the Geoff Thomas Foundation which raises funds to fight cancer.