The manager who gave Ricky Holmes his first chance in league football is not surprised that he is starring for Charlton.

Holmes was playing for non-league side Chelmsford City in 2010 when then-Barnet boss Mark Stimson decided to take a punt on him.

The tricky winger has come a long way since - and signed a new three-year Addicks deal on Monday, resisting the lure of Championship football with Sheffield United.

And Stimson, 49, reckons Holmes’ honesty and loyalty was what made him ignore the Blades’ interest.

The former Gillingham manager told News Shopper: “He was at Chelmsford and I gave him an opportunity. It was a no-brainer and I thought within time, he’d turn into a very good professional because his desire and attitude was spot on.

This Is Local London: Mark Stimson

Mark Stimson

“As soon as we built a relationship, you could tell that he was loyal. He just wanted to do well, to train and you can’t give that to people, you’ve got to have that, and he had that in abundance.

“It was just a matter of taking his time and getting into the team. He’s a great lad and it’s great to see him doing well - he thoroughly deserves it.

“Ricky is in a position where he is worshipped, and rightly so. I can just see Charlton fans knowing that when he comes out on the pitch, he’s going to cover every blade of grass.”

Holmes spent three seasons with Barnet, before moving to Portsmouth in 2013 where his form was indifferent.

But he found a new lease of life at Northampton, scoring 11 goals in their promotion-winning League Two campaign.

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It was his starring role in that Cobblers team which earned him a move to Charlton last summer. He bagged 13 goals and the Player of the Year award in his debut Valley season and is now regarded as one of the best players in League One.

Stimson says he knew Holmes would go on to have a successful Football League career.

The Thurrock boss added: “I could tell that he was going to be successful because of his work-rate.

“You only have to look at Jamie Vardy, who’s now playing for England. Ricky is in that mould to be honest, he would chase everything and was so willing.

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Ricky Holmes

“His honesty stuck out to me, too. There is one memory that stands out, he was great at getting penalties for me.

“Before, he was a bit too honest. He’d get kicked and stay on his feet in the box and that was from his non-league days where you got kicked every single minute and got on with it.

“But after our chat, I told him what he needed to do and he picked it up really well.

“You don’t have to be the biggest, but if you’re talented, you’ll get a chance. Ricky typifies that. He’s 5ft 8ins but has a massive heart and that’s the most important thing for me.”