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Core of Tampa Bay Rowdies’ roster set to return to team in 2017

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The core of the Tampa Bay Rowdies will return in 2017.

The Rowdies announced the re-signing of Joe Cole, Martin Vingaard and Neill Collins.

Cole and Vingaard joined the team after the season began, but the trio still combined for 63 starts. Georgi Hristov announced his return earlier.

Cole, a former Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC midfielder and three-time World Cup participant, made headlines when he joined the Rowdies in the early part of last season, making his club debut on May 14. He made 24 league appearances, playing more than 2,000 minutes and proving himself a marquee player for the club. His nine goals and seven assists made him the Rowdies’ second-leading points scorer and ultimately earned him a spot in the league’s Best XI. His highlight reel bicycle kick goal earned the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 countdown July 16.

Vingaard will play his first full season for the Rowdies in 2017, having joined the club in July of last season. He made 17 appearances in the fall for Tampa Bay, including scoring a stunning 40-yard volley on the final day of the season.

Collins joined the club during its preseason exhibition tour of England from Sheffield United FC and fit in immediately. He made 22 appearances as a stalwart center back in 2016 and pitched in offensively as well, scoring once and providing two total assists. The big Scottish center back quickly established himself as a fan favorite with his fiery temper and aggressive play.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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