As a schoolboy, Ian Chapman was chosen to attend the Football Association’s School of Excellence at Lilleshall Hall. When he made his professional debut for Brighton & Hove Albion away to Birmingham City in February 1987, he became the first former pupil of the school to play in the Football League, in addition to being Brighton’s youngest ever peacetime player.
He went on to make 281 Football League appearances for the Seagulls. He was part of the team which made the final of the Second Division play-offs in 1991, but during his time at the Goldstone Ground, Brighton also twice suffered relegation, and dropped into the Football League Third Division. After Brighton’s relegation, he was transferred to Gillingham who had just gained promotion from the Third Division.
He only made 23 League appearances for the “Gills”, however, before he was forced to retire from professional football due to injuries. He finished his playing career with non-league blue Whitehawk of the Sussex County League.