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Rowdies add Scottish defender Neill Collins to their roster

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While in Europe, the Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up a little help.

The Rowdies signed veteran Scottish defender Neill Collins of Sheffield United, where he has made more than 200 appearances since 2011.

“He’s a big, strong, commanding centerback,” Tampa Bay Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said. “When you look at his background, it speaks for itself. Neill is a big signing for us. He brings a lot of experience to the dressing room and he’s at a great age for a defender.”

Collins has played for some of England’s best-known teams in the English Championship and League One after a career that began in Scotland for Queen’s Park. Collins joined Sunderland Athletic in 2004, where he remained until 2007, and enjoyed loan spells at Hartlepool United, Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Collins made his loan to the Wolves permanent in 2007 and would go on to make 81 appearances for the club, scoring eight goals from the back line. After appearing on loan for Preston North End, Collins joined Leeds United in 2010 before joining the Blades permanently in 2011. In over 200 appearances for Sheffield United to date, Collins has scored 14 goals.

From Troon, Scotland, Collins represented his country at the youth level, earning seven caps for the Under-21 national team.

The Rowdies continue their preseason trip to England with a match against Notts County Friday.

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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