This week's player of the past is Daniel Bentley...
Dan Bentley started his career with Arsenal’s Academy after being scouted at Hutton Medway, he was later released in 2008 and instantly signed for Southend's Academy.
After completing his apprenticeship with Southend’s Academy, Bentley earned his first professional contract in 2011 as the youngster signed a two-year deal. He made his debut on 22nd October 2011 in Blues' 4-1 win over Torquay, coming on to replace the injured Glenn Morris in the second half.
Bentley made his full debut on 22nd September 2012 in Blues' 2-1 win over Exeter City. The young keeper went onto play against Plymouth and Burton as first choice keeper Paul Smith recovered from an injury.
Bentley continued to earn experience in cup games and earned a reputation for being a good penalty saver. As a consequence, in the Football League Trophy semi-final against Oxford United, Blues manager Paul Sturrock substituted Paul Smith for Bentley. He pulled off a save from Alfie Potter’s spot-kick and Southend won 5-3 on penalties, progressing to the Southern area final.
Bentley wrote his name in the Southend history books in the League Two play-off final back in 2015. With the game ending 1-1 after extra time, penalties were required, and the shot-stopper saved from Matt Bloomfield and Sam Wood to earn Blues promotion to League One.
Following a successful season between the sticks, Bentley won all three club awards, Supporters' Player, Players' Player and Community Player of the Year, also making it into the League Two Team PFA Team of the Year alongside Ben Coker.
Over the next season, Bentley attracted a lot of attention with the likes of Arsenal, QPR, Leeds and more all interested in his signature. He eventually signed for Brentford after failing to agree a new contract with Southend at the end of the 2015/16 season.
In his first season at Griffin Park he managed to make 47 appearances, spread across the Championship and the FA Cup. He has become a first-team regular since signing for the Bees and has gone on to make 61 appearances in red and white. Bentley recently hit a milestone with Brentford, clocking up his 200th career appearance as a professional footballer.