There is something quite symbolic when it comes to Michael Dawson wearing the famous red shirt of Nottingham Forest.
When he returned during the summer of 2018 it was a deeply romantic move by the boss at the time Aitor Karanka and was met with applause from the Forest faithful.
His first season back on Trentside didn’t quite go according to plan. A hamstring injury curtailed the majority of his season, Dawson donning the jersey he wears with so much pride just 10 times. It is perhaps worthy of note that Forest didn’t lose a league game with the man who came through the academy in the team.
A quick glance towards social media prior to a ball being kicked this season would have shown many supporters not backing Dawson to be part of their strongest Forest XI for the 2019/20 campaign.
After four games, those cynical souls already look slightly foolish.
The 35-year-old isn’t without his imperfections. Last night he could have perhaps done more to stop Lyle Taylor opening the scoring for Charlton.
His crucial block from Conor Gallagher which would have made the scoreline 2-0 to the home side, perhaps highlights just why Sabri Lamouchi has built his defence around the veteran.
Alongside Joe Worrall, the partnership is getting better with each passing game and Dawson is currently rolling back the years in a bid to take Forest forwards.
Dawson leads by example. At Tottenham, he made 286 appearances in the Premier League and in the Forest squad that level of experience cannot be matched.
Had the central defender not lived in an era where John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ledley King and Jamie Carragher roamed the streets of English football, Dawson would surely have collected more than the four England caps to his name.
Forest are a better, more organised side with Dawson calling the shots from the back.
The challenge for Lamouchi is to keep the leader of the pack fit and fresh for the majority of the team’s fixtures.
It’ll be a sad day when the man adored by Forest supporters hangs up his boots, but for now, supporters should cherish his presence in the back four.
Like it or not, the Reds are much better with the man labelled as ‘one of our own’ in the team.