Date: 21st June 2009 at 10:13am
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Vital Colchester today launches a week-long countdown for all things U`s. Today, we look at the top five homegrown talents and summarise their careers in stripesand beyond…

5) Vic Keeble – Colchester-born Striker 1947 – 1952

Keeble played up front for Colchester for five years before moving on to play for Newcastle and then West Ham in the between 1950-1958 but his career was ended prematurely by injury.

His ratio for Colchester was a goal every other game as he scored 23 times in 46 outings for the U`s.

Keeble played alongside the great Jackie Milburn for Newcastle and featured in the 1955 F.A. Cup final.

That season, Keeble scored 29 goals in 34 league and cup outings.

They say: “I’m coming up Saturday, I fancy you Vic, I could well put in a bid for you. I’ll take a look at you, see how you do.’ Ted Fenton, ex-Colchester manager, scouting Keeble, before signing him following a two-goal performence, for West Ham.

4) Perry Groves – Winger 1982-1986

The London-born winger, who later became an Arsenal cult-hero was nomadic for Colchester during his spell, earning a maximum wage of £150 per week, doubled by the Gunners.

Fans famously sung We All Live In A Perry Groves World to the tune of the Beatles` hit, Yellow Submarine and his 2006 autobiography sold even more copies than one by current England international, Wayne Rooney.

He scored just 26 goals for Colchester in four years but was virtually ever-present in that time.

A bit of a red-hearing in this selection, Groves infamously lived life as a boozed-up girl-chaser but did however win two League titles and a League Cup with Arsenal.

The Telegraph says Arsenal`s official history lists the ex-U`s man as “Perry Grives,” adding how he: “sprinted up and down the touchline like Carl Lewis only to cross, dribble and shoot like Jerry Lewis.”

They say: “It might seem strange, that with the silky talents of Cesc Fábregas and Thierry Henry in front of them, they should be singing the name of a ginger Tintin lookalike, an average player as he himself admits, who left the club nearly 15 years ago. But they were making a point: they had been fans before the French renaissance.”Guardian journalist, Sam Wollaston.

3) Micky Cook – Defender 1969 – 1984

Cook was a true one-club man whose U`s shirt became a second skin as he played 699 games for Colchester to become the club`s record apparence holder.

He was the only, mandatory, substitute during the club`s famous F.A. Cup win against Leeds in 1971 and can be seen at the top of the page playing against Manchester United.

Cook played for United for fifteen years, showing fantastic loyalty during his time at the former ground, Layer Road.

Cook began his Colchester career in 1969, and played until 1984.

He would have signed for Leyton Orient, under future U`s boss Dick Graham; due to financial difficulties, Cook left Orient`s books for the U`s after three years spent waiting for a professional contract.

He was 16 when he signed from schoolboy forms.

They say: “I think 400 games is a good achievement but not enough; every time he sees me, Micky Cook always tells me he has played more!” – Ex-U`s skipper and now Plymouth captain, Karl Duguid on reaching an appetence milestone.

2) Lomana LuaLua Winger / Striker 1998 – 2000

Discovered by Cook when he later became coach at the club, LuaLua is classed in football terms as a late developer because he didn`t start playing at all until the age of 16.

He was spotted in London, and had previously wanted to go into athletics.

LuaLua scored 21 goals in just 44 stats for the U`s, which prompted Newcastle United boss Sir Bobby Robson to spend £2.5 million on his services, a then club record.

It has since been matched since as a received fee for another former youth product, Greg Halford.

He developed an infamous summersault scoring celebration which made him famous in the Premier League.

The also donned the colours of Portsmouth Football Club, and also went on to skipper his national side, DR Congo. LuaLua currently plays his football in Qatar, but became a cult hero aboard in his spell with Greek side Olympiakos, where a samba song was named after him.

They say: “I see [LuaLua] as a special talent. He has to learn how to play with the other players but he’s a special new talent. He has to be nursed and cherished and taught. But we are buying long-term a very promising talent, a very promising player.”Sir Bobby Robson.

1) Karl Duguid Defender / Midfielder 1996 – 2008

Duguid, now with Plymouth, is a modern icon for Colchester United`s latest generation and was a great servant to the club.

A product of the club`s Youth Training Scheme, he lead his beloved club to their highest level ever in the Championship, memorably finding the net against rivals Ipswich Town (twice) during 2006/7, and he also faced the charge of Chelsea in the FA Cup the previous season.

He overcame an almost career-ending injury to be named skipper by ex-boss Phil Parkinson and has said he will one day return to manage the club.

To read Vital Colchester’s tribute to Karl Duguid from the archives, who left only last summer, click here.

Who are your top-five youth U’s?

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