Derby County’s Academy has produced some fine young players in recent years and the likes of Jason Knight, Lee Buchanan, Morgan Whittaker and Louie Sibley have been the latest to make the step up in the last 12 months.
The current season has seen a number of players make their senior debuts in the Sky Bet Championship under Wayne Rooney, including Jack Stretton, Konell McDonald, Louie Watson and 16-year-old Kaide Gordon.
Before the turn of the millennium, Chris Riggott was one of those bright youngsters looking to make the step up to professional football with Derby County.
It is often a long, winding road for youngsters looking to make their name in the game and in terms of his position on the football pitch, that was true for Riggott.
Speaking in his RamsTV Meets interview in 2018, Riggott explained: “I was good, but not great. I had plenty of friends that were far better than me.
“I used to play as a striker, then I moved back in midfield. Then one day, Steve Round (former Derby coach and now assistant manager at Arsenal) put me at centre-back and that was when I hadn’t made a tackle in my life!
“I remember playing against Marlon Harewood (former Nottingham Forest striker) and I did okay. In the last minute he went clean through on goal and I managed to get a tackle in.”
It was a tackle that would launch his career.
“At that point, I hadn’t been offered anything and I loved golf and cricket, so I wasn’t desperate to play football; my life didn’t depend on it,” Riggott added.
“It probably helped my approach, but I got my apprenticeship and I got better in that position.
“A big moment was getting selected to train with England Under-18s and it was incredible. The likes of Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry, John Terry, Ledley King and Jermain Defoe were all there and this wasy before any of them went on to become household names.”
Riggotwas a member of the Derby side that won the Premier Reserve League South in 2000 and his stand-out performances earned him a first team debut on the final day of the 1999/00 season.
He remembers it as a special occasion, despite coming up against two legendary Italian forwards at Stamford Bridge.
He said: “It was the last game of the season and I came on at half-time against Chelsea. I’d been on the bench for a couple of games before.
“We were 2-0 down, Gianfranco Zola and Gianluca Vialli were on and I got nowhere near any of them, but I enjoyed it.”
Soon, Riggott was a regular. He began the following season on the periphery, but he started to earn a reputation as a potent attacking weapon, starting against West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup at the Hawthorns.
It was a moment that his whole family remember, for a few reasons.
Riggott explained: “We didn’t start the 2000/01 season well and I got picked to face West Brom in the League Cup. I managed to score, which was a fantastic feeling.
“My brother pulled a chair out in the away end! My Dad had to plead with the stewards so he didn’t get chucked out.
“I went on a run of scoring; but we kept losing when I did!
Riggott scored away against Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea as he started 29 of the 38 Premier League games during the 2000/01 campaign.
Nigerian international defender Taribo West linked up with the Rams during the season the defender - on loan from AC Milan - is a team-mate that stands out in his memory.
“I remembered watching him at Inter Milan and ‘Enigma’ is a great way to describe him; he is one of the biggest characters that I’ve played with,” Riggott revealed.
“There were some interesting memories. I remember playing Chelsea away and when we were all getting ready to go out at Stamford Bridge. Jim Smith said that Taribo wanted to say a few words.
“He got us into a huddle and started praying, he was going for it!
“Thirty seconds into the game, he tried to let the ball go out for a goal-kick and they scored. We ended up losing 4-1.
“Jim told him that was the last pre-match talk he was doing!”
Chris Riggott’s full RamsTV Meets interview looking back on his time with Derby County, and his professional career, can be viewed in the videos embedded within this article.