|view Thompson's match-by-match record|
A young full-back who first appeared in the first team squad at the end of the 2007/08 season, Thompson signed a professional contract with the Town in April 2009, with Premiership giants Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Newcastle all already showing interest in the defender as he helped the youth team to victory in the Youth Alliance South West Division. Former Town legend and youth team boss Paul Bodin praised Thompson as he signed his deal, declaring the unflappable youngster as ready for first team action the following season - but though he made the bench on eleven different occasions throughout the season, he failed to make his first team bow.
Thompson eventually made his first team debut in October 2010, coming on as a first half substitute in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy win over Torquay - his first start, and his League debut, came a month later - after Swindon had conceded ten goals in their previous three games, Thompson was drafted into the first eleven for a home match with Charlton, but it proved to be one of the Town's worst performances of the season, slumping to a 3-0 defeat.
Thompson didn't feature again until the end of April - after Swindon's relegation to League Two had been confirmed, caretaker manager and youth team boss Paul Bodin vowed to blood some of the Town's youngsters - and after coming on as a substitute in a 2-0 home defeat to Oldham, he started the last game of the season at Tranmere - a game that ended in a 2-0 win. In May, Thompson agreed a new one-year contract.
After impressing new Town boss Paolo di Canio during pre-season, he was named on the bench for the opening game of the season, before Thompson started on the right side of midfield for the trip to Cheltenham the following weekend, which the Town lost 1-0. Though he was dropped to the bench for another away game at Dagenham three days later, he was introduced as an early substitute in place of the injured Alberto Comazzi.
A knee injury sidelined him for a spell during September, but with captain Paul Caddis in superb form in his preferred right back spot, a substitute appearance at Exeter in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in October was Thompson's only appearance in the side until April - a hamstring injury frustratingly preventing him from replacing Caddis when the Town skipper was injured in March. After substitute appearances at Barnet and Morecambe, Thompson was named in the sixteen for all bar one of the Town's remaining fixtures - before starting the final game of the season at Bradford, an appearance cut short by a scything tackle that saw Thompson limp out of the game after just twenty minutes. Come the end of the campaign, di Canio offered Thompson a new contract, praising him for his ambition, versatility, and his desire in training.
When di Canio surprisingly exiled Caddis over the summer though, Thompson found himself on the verge of a first-team place for the 2012/13 League One campaign - and though Joe Devera started the season as the first choice right back, Thompson was given his chance for a 2-1 win at Portsmouth in mid-September. When he followed up his impressive performance with a man-of-the-match display in a 4-0 win over Bournemouth the following Saturday, Thompson had finally announced his arrival in the Town’s first team - and for the remainder of the season, his tenacious displays ensured that he made the right back position his own.
Perhaps the only blot on his copybook was the number of bookings he received - but when he picked up his ninth yellow card of the season at Yeovil in mid-March, Thompson vowed not to change his style - unfortunately though, just two games later, the full back damaged ankle ligaments in a 1-1 draw against Oldham over Easter - a scan confirming that the injury would keep him out for the rest of the regular season - and although it was initially hoped that he would be fit to return for the play-offs, new Town boss Kevin MacDonald decided not to rush him back. His superb season was recognised however, when he was voted as the Swindon Advertiser Player of the Year - and over the summer, Thompson agreed another two year extension to his contract, despite interest from several teams in the Championship - including strong rumours linking him with a move to Leeds.
By now, Thompson was the longest serving member of the squad - and with a new board and playing philosophy in place, despite only being 22, he was also one of the most experienced. New boss Mark Cooper initially utilised him on the right side of a four man defence - linking up with Nathan Byrne ahead of him - but as the 2013/14 season progressed, and new formations were tried out, Thompson was also used in a wing-back role towards the end of the season. He netted his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw against Gillingham in August, as Cooper’s young side flirted with the play-off positions, Thompson was almost ever-present - prevented from doing so only by illness and injury, and a controversial refereeing decision during a wind-swept 0-0 draw against Colchester in February, where Thompson appeared to be booked by the referee for protecting himself from being headbutted. Though the official explanation was that he “adopted an aggressive attitude”, boss Cooper was fuming at the decision, which was Thompson’s 10th yellow card of the season, and kept him out of a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Area Final against Peterborough, which the Town lost on penalties to narrowly miss out on a trip to Wembley.
Earlier in the same month, when regular captain Darren Ward was substituted at half-time of a 1-0 defeat against Oldham, Thompson was handed the armband for the rest of the game - it was a moment that Thompson described as an “extremely proud moment”, and that it had “brought a lump to his throat” when Ward had given it to him - though his was critical of his own performance in the game.
After originally being expected to miss a month with a groin injury picked up in early March against MK Dons, Thompson was back in action within a week - returning to be part of a superb rear-guard action at Ashton Gate, that earned ten man Town a goalless draw against Bristol City. With Ward being left out of the side more frequently, Thompson was by now regularly being named captain - and at the end of the month, when brother Louis netted a late winning goal against Sheffield United, already substituted Nathan ran eighty yards to celebrate with his brother and the fans - one of the iconic images of the season. Louis paid tribute to his brother, saying that he had “done brilliantly” as captain, and that to win the game for him was “the proudest moment” for him. Though Nathan blotted his copybook with a sending off in the penultimate game of the season at Notts County, as Swindon missed out on the top six, he was again named as the Swindon Advertiser Player of the Year, becoming only the third player to retain the trophy.
Over the summer, with Peterborough, Leeds and Norwich all rumoured to be interested in securing his services, manager Mark Cooper declared that the club would need to be offered “an awful lot of money” if he was to leave - and though the Posh tentatively enquired as to his availability, with a suggested fee of £200,000 quoted, the interest went no further. Before the new season had begun, the club named Thompson as the new club captain on a permanent basis.
Having spent the previous season becoming more attack-minded in his play, Thompson confirmed that he was aiming to make more of an impact in attacking positions in the new season - so it was somewhat of a surprise when he lined up for the opening game in a completely new position, in the centre of a back three, as Cooper reverted to a 3-5-2 formation. It was a crucial position in a side where the focus was very much on playing the ball out from the back - and though he was immediately impressive in his new role (Cooper describing him as a “mixture of Alan Hansen and Franco Baresi”), he often found himself exposed at the back. With the Town 3-2 down and pushing for an equaliser deep into injury time in a Capital One Cup tie against Brighton, Thompson was caught in possession - and in an attempt to rectify his mistake, he chased back and brought down Jake Forster-Caskey, resulting in a red card for Thompson, and a match-sealing penalty for Brighton.
Two months later, Thompson again saw red when he appeared to be pushed over at Yeovil - grabbing for the ball as he went down, the referee didn’t award the initial free-kick, instead showing Thompson a second yellow card for the handball. Though incensed by the decision, the Town were unable to appeal as the offence was a booking and not a straight red. Less than a month later though, Thompson was again shown a red card in controversial circumstances, after his legs tangled with Cheltenham’s Tony Gornell in an FA Cup tie at Whaddon Road, he was deemed to have deliberately denied a clear goalscoring opportunity with just 21 minutes gone in the tie. Thompson showed his frustration with the decision as he left the pitch, kicking a water bottle and the tunnel as he departed the pitch - Mark Cooper labelling the sending off as “a joke”. It was Thompson’s third red card of the season, and his fourth in nineteen games.
Despite the disciplinary problems, Thompson was a key cog in a side that was flying at the top of the table, playing a superb brand of football - the Town captain often the starting point in moving the ball out from the back - his importance to the side underlined by the fact that the Town had failed to win any of the games he missed due to suspension. Scheduled to face table-topping Bristol City the following weekend without key midfielders Yaser Kasim and Massimo Luongo, Swindon appealed the decision - a case strengthened by an admission from the chief of referees that Thompson had been harshly dealt with against Yeovil. When the Cheltenham decision was overturned, it allowed Thompson to take his place in the side for the key derby clash - and when the whistle was blown on a 1-0 home win, Thompson released his frustrations with a victorious jump in front of the City fans - providing a second iconic photo in two seasons, and incensing the away support in the process - bizarrely prompting a number of them to complain to the police!
After he was withdrawn just before the hour mark, having played through the pain of ruptured ankle ligaments in a 1-0 home win over Fleetwood, Thompson seemed to be battling with a succession of injuries for the rest of the campaign - a thigh injury picked up in a 4-1 Boxing Day win at Walsall keeping him out for two games at the turn of the year, as Swindon moved to the top of the table. With the January transfer window open, Thompson was again drawing the attention of bigger clubs - Bolton Wanderers rumoured to be close to making a bid that never materialised - the window closing soon after a trip to Sheffield United that saw the Town slip to third in the table, and Thompson ruled out again, this time with a dead leg. He returned to the side two weeks later, but was caught in possession to allow Scunthorpe a match-sealing third goal - after the game, Thompson vowed to continue to keep playing the ball out from the back, despite the increased risks as part of the side’s expansive style.
Five bookings in his first seven games of the New Year also meant that Thompson was walking another disciplinary tightrope, with just one more needed for another suspension - after the Town won three games on the trot in March without adding to his tally, Thompson declared that he was confident he remain out of trouble until the count was reset in mid-April. With three games left until the amnesty, the first two were both crucial promotion clashes played over the Easter period, against Milton Keynes Dons, and the much-anticipated return derby with Bristol City, for which Thompson was ensured a hot reception. Unfortunately, Thompson saw yellow just after half-time in the game against MK, which the visitors went onto win 3-0 - and the Town skipper could only look on at Ashton Gate as his side succumbed to another three goal defeat without reply, to all but end any dreams of automatic promotion. When he returned to action, Swindon raced to a four goal lead in the first half at Rochdale - the Town skipper unfortunate to bundle the ball into his own net in injury time in a 4-2 win.
With the Town now assured of a play-off spot, manager Cooper rested many players in the build-up to the season’s finale - Thompson sitting out two of the last three games, and being substituted in the other. The skipper described leading his side out in the play-off campaign as a “dream come true”, and stated that his injury troubles were behind him - but after the Town won the first leg of the semi-final thanks to a late Nathan Byrne strike at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United, Thompson hobbled out of the second leg after an hour with a torn hamstring, having earlier been credited with an own goal as United battled back having gone 3-0 down in the first eighteen minutes. Though he departed with the Town 4-3 up on the night, and 6-4 up on aggregate, his side made hard work of it, as the game turned into an epic - three goals in the last six minutes making the game 5-5 on the night, and the majority of the County Ground crowd endured a nervous seven minutes of injury time before Swindon finally sealed their place at Wembley for the final.
When a scan confirmed a grade two, eight centimetre tear, it left the Town skipper with a race against time to make the season’s finale - and he confirmed that the club were doing everything possible for him to make it - with injections, oxygen therapy and even treatment involving horse placenta being mentioned as he battled to be fit. Thompson admitted that leading his team out at Wembley was something he had dreamed of ever since he was a child - and initially, it looked like those dreams were answered, when he was declared fit for the game, and was named in the starting eleven. The final itself though proved to be disastrous, Thompson himself describing the opening three minutes as the worst experience of his career - chasing down a ball with Preston’s Jermaine Beckford, he was visibly already troubled by the hamstring as he conceded a free kick to the striker - and when the ball was played into the area, he allowed Beckford in ahead of him, and his leg gave way as the forward put Preston into an early lead. Thompson was stretchered off, the decision to rush him back proving to be mistaken - and the Town went on to lose the game 4-0, leading to emotional scenes at the end of the game, with a tearful Thompson, on crutches, embracing his brother Louis, having been denied promotion in the latter’s final game with the club before his move to Norwich.
With many of the Town’s stars leaving the club over the summer, Thompson declared that he was more than happy to lead the rebuilt side the following season - and after easing himself into the pre-season campaign, he stated that he felt that he was back to full fitness after working hard over the summer to resolve his hamstring injury. The new season again brought a reshuffle in the defence, and Thompson found himself back in his old right back position, as Cooper tried out a 4-3-3 formation - and back to linking up with Nathan Byrne on the flank. After playing four games in two weeks, Thompson was again stricken with injury - a groin problem forcing him off after just ten minutes of a 1-0 win at Southend - three weeks later, though he declared himself fit and travelled with the team to Barnsley, he wasn’t named in the squad after feeling a twinge the night before the game. When he did return the following weekend against Burton, it was still too soon - though he completed the match, he hobbled off the pitch at the end of the 1-0 defeat with a recurrence of the same injury, which this time would keep him out until the New Year after a further setback in October, when the tear in his groin was shown to be worse than expected by a scan.
Thompson’s injury was one of many suffered by a small Town squad in the opening part of the season - and the poor form shown by the makeshift side led to manager Mark Cooper losing his job in October, to be replaced by Martin Ling. Ling’s stay proved to be short lived, and he too had left the position before Thompson was ready to return in mid-January - and after caretaker boss Luke Williams’ first match in charge had resulted in a 4-2 win having gone two goals behind against Southend, Thompson used his programme notes for the Crewe game to criticise a section of the home support for jeering, when the Town’s defence were caught playing the ball out from the back to hand the Shrimpers the lead. Bizarrely, the following game took a very similar path - Swindon going a goal ahead before gifting three to the visitors - by the time Thompson was introduced with ten minutes remaining to a rapturous reception, the Town had pulled the game back to 3-3, a Nicky Ajose strike in injury time proving to be the winner. After the game, Thompson admitted to being humbled by the reception he received, and boss Williams confessed that he was nervous sending him on because he was desperate for him to come through.
date of birth
right wing back