He was working as a painter and decorator at the age of 17 when he was offered an apprenticeship by Latics. He made his first-team debut at Stockport in the League Cup on 14 September 1981. The following Saturday he made his League debut against Northampton.
In July 1986 he transferred to Everton for £120,000, and scored two goals in his first four games. By March 1987 however he had moved onto Man City, and after a loan spell at Chester joined Birmingham in March 1988, before rejoining the Latics in September 1990.
He holds the club Football League appearance record, appearing 317 times (10 as substitute), scoring 12 goals. He also made 14 Cup appearances (twice as substitute), adding a further 2 goals to his club tally.