30th April – John O’Shea

As Sunderland prepare to take on Manchester United this weekend it will be an interesting experience for a player that spent 12 years at Old Trafford.

John O’Shea knows his team need to pick up points to help them pull away from the relegation zone but it cannot be easy for someone take on a former club where he had so many great times. He signed professional terms at Manchester United at the age of 17 and made his debut against Aston Villa in 1999.

Unsurprisingly he could not break into the first team just yet but he did make 10 appearances on loan at Bournemouth and another 14 at Belgian club Antwerp before becoming a regular in the squad during the 2002-03 season. During the campaign he played right back, left back, centre back and central midfield showing that he was going to be an important player as his versatility meant he could plug any gaps in the team. At the end of the season he picked up the first of his five league medals and then in his next season he started in the centre of defence as the club won the FA Cup.
O'Shea United
After a difficult 2004-05 season he was linked with moves away but he did provide one of the greatest moments of the season as he chipped Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia in a 4-2 victory. Speaking of goalkeepers, O’Shea can also add that to positions he can play. In a game against Tottenham Hotspur in 2007 he was forced to play in goal for the final few minutes and pulled off a save from Republic of Ireland teammate Robbie Keane which led to the United fans singing ‘Ireland’s number one.’
O'Shea Goalkeeper
A month later he became even more of a fan favourite by scoring an injury time winner against Liverpool at Anfield. It was an important goal as it helped the club win the title. At the end of the season he finished with 100% shooting accuracy and scored five goals in all competitions, his highest so far.

He continued playing in a variety of positions for the next few seasons including striker which meant he had played in every position. In 2009 came his biggest moment as he was picked to start the Champions League final with manager Alex Ferguson saying. “He can play anywhere for me: all along the back four, midfield – he’s even played in goal for a short period. He takes his place in Rome because he deserves it.” Unfortunately they lost to Barcelona 2-0.

O’Shea made 393 appearances in total for Manchester United but on the 7th July 2011 he signed for Sunderland. Former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce who was manager of Sunderland said. “John has been a solid, consistent part of Manchester United’s squad for well over a decade which goes to show the fantastic pedigree of the player we have signed.”
O'Shea Sunderland
His time at Sunderland has been up and down with a lot of injuries and a lot of managerial changes but he is hoping to help the club avoid relegation after being bottom at Christmas and become only the second club to achieve this.

The final word can go to Alex Ferguson. “He was instrumental in a lot of our successes over the years. He is a fantastic professional. I love him in terms of his attitude and loyalty to the club.”

29th April – Pascal Cygan

If you ever have to name the players that were part of Arsenal’s Invincibles of the 2003-04 season this player will certainly not be one that springs to mind straight away.

Pascal Cygan played 18 times that season in the league and although he was only considered a fringe player he did play in a lot of important fixtures and ultimately he did not let them down and cost them their record of going unbeaten.

Cygan probably could not have imagined he would have been in such a position after being a youth player at Wasquehal. In 1995 he became a professional when he joined Lille and made his debut later in the year. He was a very important player for a number of years in Ligue 2 and in the 1999-00 season he helped the club win the French second division and then they surpassed everyone’s expectations by finishing third and qualifying for the Champions League in their first season back in the top flight. Cygan was instrumental and was quickly becoming one of the best defenders in France. In his last season in France he was made captain because of how much of a role model he was to the younger players of the squad.
Cygan Lille
In the summer of 2002 he joined Arsenal for £2 million and made his debut in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Wenger said of his new signing. “I was looking at Cygan for a while. It was difficult to find a good centre back. Of course you have to take a chance and a gamble, but this is a small gamble. He will become a better player here, and make the French national team.”

Unfortunately this did not come true and he did not get a French cap but he did still have some good performances for Arsenal. Possibly his greatest game was when he scored twice against Fulham in an opening day 4-1 win. After injuries in the 2005-06 season to Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy he was played as an emergency left back and he helped them to 12 wins and 11 clean sheets in 20 matches while in that position. However an injury ended his season and after falling further down the pecking order his time at the club was up.
Cygan Arsenal
His next club was the Spanish side Villarreal where he joined up with former Arsenal teammate Robert Pires. After some consistent performances in his two years at the club he signed a new one year deal however in his final year he wasn’t played as much as he’d hoped and left the club for newly promoted to the Segunda Division FC Cartegena on a one year deal.
Cygan Villarreal
At the age of 37 and after playing 57 league games for the club he was released and decided to retire. The final word can go to Arsene Wenger. “Pascal is a fantastic defender with great ability and has proved he can compete at the highest level from his performances in the Champions League.”

28th April – Diego Simeone

He was once most well known for being the man that got kicked by David Beckham at France 98 but he is now one of the most wanted managers in Europe.

Diego Simeone is close to giving the Atletico Madrid fans the season of their lives with the club currently leading the way in La Liga and one match away from the Champions League final. He is 44 today and even he couldn’t have imagined this year would have went so well, but as he showed his playing career he will do anything to make sure his team get their hands on the trophies at the end of the season.
Simeone Atletico
As a player he started out at Argentinean side Velez Sarsfield but after 76 league games he was on his way to Europe to play for Italian side Pisa. In his first season he got relegated with the club and when they failed to win promotion he moved to Sevilla in Spain. But it was when he made his move to Atletico Madrid that success came as he won the La Liga title and the Copa Del Rey during the 1995-96 season.

Afterwards he moved back to Italy and won more silverware, with Inter Milan he won the UEFA Cup and with Lazio under Sven Goran Eriksson he won the Italian League title after a dramatic final day and the Coppa Italia. Simeone then returned to Atletico in the summer of 2003 and played for two more seasons before returning to Argentina with Racing.
Simeone Lazio
On the international stage he played over 100 times for Argentina and he will be remembered for that incident in 1998 with David Beckham but in 2002 Beckham got his revenge by scoring a winning penalty. However Beckham learned more about the midfielder that day saying. “He showed me what a gentleman he is by coming up to me at half time and then at the end of the game shaking my hand. I have always said he is a good player and now we have a healthy respect for each other.”
Simeon Becks
After retiring he first became the manager of his final club Racing and although he was doing a decent job a change in ownership meant he was sacked. It did not take him long to get a new job as Estudiantes appointed him in the same month and Simeone repaid them by guiding them to their first title in 23 years and was later voted as the best manager in Argentina with former Argentine international Roberto Perfumo saying he was born to be a manager.

His next move was to River Plate where he did not have as much success but still had a good win percentage of 45.45%. After not winning for 11 games he handed in his resignation and was on the move to San Lorenzo where once again poor results did not help his cause and he was heavily criticised so he left them after 48 games.

Simeone decided to come back to Europe and managed Catania who he saved from relegation however he did not extend his contract and went back to managing Racing in Argentina but this only lasted 20 games and on the 23rd December 2011 he was appointed manager of Atletico Madrid. At the end of his first season he won the Europa League and then followed this up by beating Chelsea 4-1 in the Super Cup. They are now top of the league and are competing in their first Champions League semi final for the first time in 40 years.

The final word can go to his once nemesis now friend David Beckham. “I’ve been asked countless times if I have forgotten what he did in France 98. You have to forgive and forget. There is no lingering grudge between us – just mutual respect between people who regard each other as good players and professionals.”

27th April – Walter Pandiani

Uruguayans have been hit and miss in the Premier League, there have been some like Luis Suarez and then others that had a lot of quality but did not quite cut it like Diego Forlan.

Unfortunately ‘El Rifle’ fits more into the second category. Walter Pandiani had two spells at Birmingham City while they were in the Premier League and it seemed like they had signed one of the best finishers in Europe at the time. After playing for Progreso, Basanez and Penarol in his home country he made the move to Spain to play for Deportivo La Coruna. Although he was never a regular starter he had a phenomenal record and scored a lot of goals off the bench. In between the years of 2000 and 2005 he played 86 league games for the club and scored 31 goals including 13 in the 2003-04 season. During his time at the club he went out on loan to Mallorca and scored 13 goals in 33 games for them and was getting a growing reputation of someone that knew where the back of the net was.
Pandiani Depor
After several run ins with Deportivo coach Javier Irureta he made his move to Birmingham City initially on loan. It did not take him long to show off his talents as he scored on his debut in a 2-1 win over Southampton. Manager Steve Bruce said after the game: “Walter Pandiani arrived yesterday with no boots, and he doesn’t speak a word of English, but he’ll give us a lift.” In his next 13 appearances he managed three goals and this led to Birmingham signing him permanently for £3 million.
Pandiani Birmingham
However he failed to show the form of his loan spell and only half a season later he was sold to Espanyol for £1 million. He played 31 times in the league for Birmingham scoring only six goals. His first full season at new club Espanyol was interesting as he only scored seven league goals but this included a first half hatrick away to Real Madrid. Although he struggled domestically everything he touched in the UEFA Cup seemed to go in as he ended the campaign as the top scorer in the competition with 11 goals. The club lost in the final on penalties against Spanish rivals Sevilla.

Pandiani then left the club for Osasuna where he was hardly used in his first season at the club but in his second season he ended it as their top scorer. He played a key role in a victory over Real Madrid in which he was involved in a verbal spat with Cristiano Ronaldo. Pandiani saying about the Portuguese player. “As a footballer he is a phenomenon but to do the things he does, maybe he has a screw loose.”
Pandiani Osasuna
After leaving Osasuna he rejoined Espanyol but this was only for one season which he spent mostly on the bench but he did manage to grab late winner against Getafe and Real Betis. In 2012 he joined Villarreal and on his debut he scored the winning goal and followed this up the next week by scoring the winner again. However these were the only two goals he scored in the league.

At his next club Atletico Baleares he started in a game alongside his son with Pandiani Senior scoring in a 2-1 defeat. In October 2013 they both joined Uruguayan club Miramar Misiones where they still play.

The last word can go to former Birmingham City co owner David Sullivan just after selling the player: “Walter is not a bad player and he did well recently against Manchester United and Chelsea. You’ve got to take your hat off to his commitment towards the club, he scored important goals

26th April – Chris Perry

Usually centre backs are big strong six foot plus players but every so often one comes along and breaks the mould and is just as consistent despite not having these characteristics.

Chris Perry is 41 today and started his career at boyhood club Wimbledon going on to be one of their most consistent performers and helped them stay in the Premier League for a number of years. And at one point he was in such good form that he was being talked about to break into the England squad. His manager at Wimbledon Joe Kinnear said: “Perry and Blackwell remind me of the finest defensive formation England have had since Roy McFarland and Colin Todd. It takes my breath away just watching them. If Glenn (Hoddle) wants I’ll send a car to pick him up for our next game.” Unfortunately for Perry he never earned a call up to the England squad.
Perry Dons
In July 1999 he made a £4 million move to Tottenham Hotspur and at the time was the clubs record signing and he became an automatic pick after Sol Campbell left for Arsenal. He stayed in the team and played most games until an injury in January 2003 meant he lost his place in the team. When younger players were selected ahead of him Perry signed for Charlton Athletic on loan. After impressing Alan Curbishley during the loan spell the transfer was made permanent and for the majority of the time Curbishley was in charge Perry was in the team. However new manager Iain Dowie released him in the summer of 2006.
Perry Spurs
His next move was to West Brom and Tony Mowbray thought that although he did not make enough appearances to trigger a clause in his contract he still performed well for the club. He said: “I thought Chris did fine. He is a decent footballer and a good defender.” He played his part in helping the team reach the playoff finals where they were beaten by Derby County.

After a season long spell at Luton Town he made his final career move and joined Southampton initially on loan and then permanently. In his short loan spell he was named in the Championship Team of the Week after his performance against Bristol City on 5th April 2008. He continued playing for the club until the start of the 2010-11 season when he was released but he did win a trophy just before he left as Southampton won the Football League Trophy in 2010.
Perry Soton
The final word can go to his former teammate at West Brom Darren Carter who said: “We’ve got Chris Perry in at the back, he’s got bags of experience and every time I’ve seen him play he wins everything despite not being a six footer. He’s a good player and knows the game inside out.”

25th April – David Moyes

He may not have been able to celebrate a single birthday as manager of Manchester United but that doesn’t mean he has had a bad career and will surely be successful once again.

David Moyes turns 51 today and his dream of managing one of the biggest clubs in the world turned into a nightmare pretty quickly. But even getting this far is an achievement for someone that started his playing career at Icelandic club IBV Vestmannaeyjar. He spent half a season in their youth team before transferring to Celtic where he won the title after playing 24 games.
Moyes Celtic
Moyes made over 550 club appearances for many clubs including Cambridge United, Bristol City, Shrewsbury Town, Dunfermline Athletic, Hamilton Academical and finally Preston North End.

After retiring he became a coach at Preston but in January 1998 after Gary Peters was sacked and the club were struggling in Division Two, Moyes was given the task of keeping the club in the league. He completely turned the club around by keeping them in the league and then getting to the playoffs the next season. However they were defeated by Gillingham in the semi finals. But this did not stop Moyes as he won the title the next season but even more remarkably in their first season in Division One they reached the playoffs but lost to Bolton Wanderers 3-0 in the final. After the season ended he signed a new five year contract with their Chief Executive Tony Scholes saying: “We believe David is the best young manager in the game. He is the man to push Preston into the Premier League.” He had a phenomenal record at the club winning 113 of his 243 matches in charge, only losing 63.

Unfortunately for Preston Moyes left the club in March 2002 to take over at Everton. He could not have got off to a better start with David Unsworth scoring 30 seconds into his first match in charge, they went on to win the game 2-1. He guided them to safety and then the next season he won the LMA Manager of the Year after leading them to a 7th place finish. It looked as though the good times were coming back but the 2003-04 season was not so easy as they struggled and finished the season with their lowest points tally and finished just above the relegation zone in 17th.
Moyes Everton
After having a difficult summer in which Wayne Rooney was sold to Manchester United his side were expected to struggle but the signing of midfielder Tim Cahill proved a stroke of genius from Moyes as they finished the season in fourth place and qualified for the Champions League.

The rest of his time at Everton was largely successful although he could not win a trophy it will still be seen as one of the best times in recent history. He would not have left to take over at many other clubs but to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor at Old Trafford was just too good to turn down. Ferguson said: “When we discussed the candidates that we felt had the right attributes we unanimously agreed on David Moyes.”
Moyes Man United
Moyes broke a lot of records while in charge at Old Trafford unfortunately for him and everyone involved with the club they were all negative ones and the club will most likely not qualify for Europe. He was not given the chance to turn it around and was sacked. The last word can go to Gary Neville who was disappointed with the team’s performances this season but did not understand why Moyes was not given more time. “The idea of giving people three or four or six year contracts and then getting rid of them after 10 months is something that is foreign to me.”

24th April – Stuart Pearce

Although it is still unclear which division Nottingham Forest will be playing in next season they will have a new manager in the summer.

Stuart Pearce turns 52 today and could be the luckiest manager ever, he may not have to do any work in getting the team promoted but could be a Premier League manager next season. But the Nottingham Forest fans love him so they are very happy about him being their new manager.

It wasn’t always easy for Pearce in football and in his early years he was just a semi professional footballer and had to work as an electrician until he was signed by Coventry City in 1983 for £30,000. This was a very surprising move but Pearce quickly established himself as an uncompromising full back.

He spent two years at Coventry before moving to Nottingham Forest but the player still wasn’t convinced he could make a living from playing football and advertised himself as an electrician in the matchday programme. He had little to worry about as he was a vital part of their first team for 12 years and was part of the England squad for most of his career. During his time at the club he won the League Cup twice but was not as lucky in the FA Cup as he was a losing finalist in 1991. Unfortunately relegation followed soon after in 1993 but Pearce stayed and helped them return to the Premier League.
Soccer - Endsleigh League Division One - Notts County v Nottingham Forest - Meadow Lane
The next spell of his career is a little strange as he became Player-Manager in 1996 even though he had no intention of ending his playing days anytime soon. It looked as though he was going to keep the team up after winning the Manager of the Month in January. However the good form did not last and they did eventually get relegated.

When he left Forest he began to focus on being a player rather than a manager and joined Newcastle United where he played and lost in another FA Cup final. Pearce fell out with manager Ruud Gullit after he felt Pearce would be after his job so sent him into the reserves. A year after the falling out he joined West Ham and was an instant success winning their Player of the Year but he was on the move once again soon after.

His last move was to Manchester City where he won the First Division title and in the final game of his career had the chance to score his 100th goal when City won a 94th minute against Portsmouth. But it wasn’t to be as he missed from the spot.
Pearce City
After ending his playing career he remained at the club as a coach. In 2005 after the sacking of Kevin Keegan he was asked to take caretaker charge where he showed his ability and chairman at the time John Wardle gave him the job permanently saying. “He has shown the all round ability and qualities to be manager of this club. Stuart is the outstanding candidate.”

Despite a successful start to the next season he led them to a disappointing 15th position after losing nine of the last 10 games. The season after was equally frustrating as they came close to being relegated and his team only scored 10 goals at home all season and was sacked in May 2007.

He had already been doing the England under 21 job on a part time basis and when he was sacked took over full time and got the team to final of the Under 21 Championships in 2009 where they were beat by a phenomenal Germany side 4-0. After an awful time at the 2013 tournament Pearce did not have his contract extended.
Pearce England
The last word can go to his new chairman at Nottingham Forest Fawaz Al Hasawi. “I am really happy to have Stuart as boss. He is a very good manager. We are looking forward to him starting. I was waiting to pick the right manager and Stuart is the right manager.”

23rd April – Lee Young-Pyo

Not many South Koreans have played in the Premier League but when they have they have usually been very consistent and never let their team down.

Lee Young-Pyo played over 100 times for his country and had a very good club career that led to him playing in a Champions League semi final. But it was at Anyang LG Cheetahs where he began playing and showed good form from an early age which meant he was picked for the 2002 World Cup squad. South Korea performed brilliantly in the tournament and reached the semi finals. The player himself put in some impressive performances and was linked with moves away from his homeland.

It was the former South Korea manager Guus Hiddink that brought him to Europe to play for Dutch side PSV. Lee alongside his countryman Park Ji Sung helped the club to the Eredivisie title twice and the KNVB Cup. After playing 109 times for the team he was heavily linked with moves to France and England but PSV were reluctant to let him go. In the end he was allowed to leave and he joined Tottenham Hotspur. Hiddink said on his departure. “I didn’t want him to go. But he did well from his very first working day and has made so much progress.”
Lee PSV
Lee settled into the Premier League very quickly and in his first season played nearly every game with Spurs conceding the fourth lowest in the league. Martin Jol was impressed by his signing and the pedigree he brought with him. “Lee has played at PSV for three years and was in the South Korean side which reached the semi finals of the World Cup. He has played in the Champions League – reaching the semi finals last season – and was the best left back in Holland.”

He played mostly at left back at Spurs but was moved to right back for the start of the 2006-07 season. However he lost his place after the club signed Pascal Chimbonda and he could not dislodge Benoit Assou-Ekotto from the left back spot. When he did finally win his place back he suffered a season ending knee injury against Sevilla but he did manage to recover enough to win a League Cup winners medal in the next and his final season at the club.
Lee Spurs
His next move was to the German side Borussia Dortmund where he spent one season playing 22 times and even though he signed a contract extension, he moved to Al-Hilal in 2009. He only spent two years in Saudi Arabia but he did score his first goal in five years and won the league title both years he was at the club.
Lee Vancouver
His final move was to Vancouver Whitecaps where he enjoyed a lot of personal success and was named their player of the year in 2012. Lee played his final professional game on 27th October 2013 and was given the match ball by his teammates after a very solid performance. The last word can go Martin Rennie the Whitecaps head coach. “Lee is a quality individual and leader – both on and off the pitch – that has excelled at all levels of the game.”

22nd April – Dion Dublin

As Manchester United dominated the news headlines today it was a former player that turned 45 and is someone that since his career has ended has had an interesting time.

Dion Dublin has done a lot of media work since his retirement but what sets him apart from most pundits and former players is that he has invented a percussion instrument called The Dube. It would have been hard to imagine the young player that started his career at Cambridge United would have invented an instrument.

He joined Cambridge in 1988 after being released by Norwich City and this was when he changed position from centre half to centre forward and it proved to be a very successful change as he was prolific in successive promotions for the club. In his final season at the club he helped the team finish in their highest ever position in the Football League and this led to many admirers and it wasn’t long before the big teams wanted to sign him.
On the 7th August 1992 he signed for Manchester United and Alex Ferguson could not have been happier. “He is a good finisher. The boy has made a decision which pleases me immensely.” Unfortunately he did not fulfil his potential at Old Trafford because of injuries. But it started promisingly as he scored the only goal of the game against Southampton to give the team their first win of the season. A broken leg against Crystal Palace meant he missed a lot of the season and for the rest of his time at the club he did not really get a chance.

Coventry City were the club that were willing to give him a chance and he proved to be one of the best strikers ever in the Premier League. At the end of the 1997 season he almost single handedly kept the club in the top flight with Dublin scoring away to Liverpool in the last seconds and then in a home win against Chelsea giving the club a chance to stay up on the last day of the season. He scored the first goal in a memorable 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur.
Dublin Coventry
After continuing to score plenty of goals for the club including 23 in his last full season he made the move to Aston Villa. Once again he started phenomenally and scored seven goals in his first four games. Dublin suffered a horrible injury against Sheffield Wednesday that could have ended his career however he made a miraculous recovery and continued scoring goals for fun.
Dublin Villa
After a loan spell at Millwall, he joined Championship side Leicester City. Manager Micky Adams knew he could be a very important player, not just as a striker. “Dion brings a wealth of experience and will be a big help. He is a model professional and provides opportunities for us both in attack and defence.” He only scored six goals for the club before his contract was terminated in January 2006 but he did play a lot of games in defence.

Half a season at Celtic gave him the opportunity to win a lot of trophies. Which he did as he picked up a Premier League winners medal and a Scottish League Cup in which he came on as a sub and scored the final goal.

His time in Scotland only lasted six months and he rejoined first club Norwich City. In his final season as a professional he won the club’s Player of the Year award and his final game ever was at Hillsborough where his career almost ended. Dublin said of the occasion: “It was incredible at Hillsborough. If you think of the stadia I could’ve retired at, away from Norwich of course, with the history and the feeling, then Sheffield Wednesday was the perfect place.” Both sets of fans gave him a standing ovation as he was subbed in the 66th minute and to make it even better the 36,208 fans in Hillsborough was the highest Championship attendance that season.
Dublin Hills
The final word can go to his Aston Villa manager who makes a great point after his horrific neck injury and one that everyone surely agrees with as we may not have had ‘The Dube’. “Dion’s football career will last until 35 or so but he’s got 50 years after that – and we don’t want them blighted by injury.”

21st April – Mark Cullen

It has been a good few months for Mark Cullen with him becoming a father and scoring one of the goals of the season to help Luton Town gain promotion back to the Football League.

He is 22 today and it looks like he is going to have a decent career in front of him and he could go from strength to strength now he is back in the Football League. He started out at Hull City where he made his debut against Wigan Athletic in an FA Cup third round match after impressing for their youth team and scoring goals for fun. Later in this season he went on to play his first Premier League game against Sunderland and then on the 3rd May he started his first match and scored in the 2-2 draw with Wigan.
Cullen Hull
In the January of the next season he signed a new contract with the club but was soon sent out on loan to get himself some more first team experience. Bradford City signed him and manager Peter Taylor knew about his talents and thought he could add something to their squad. He said: “Everyone had the same things to say about Mark. He’s low maintenance, he’s a good young professional and he wants to improve.” After playing four times he returned to Hull.

Over the next two seasons he spent time away from his parent club, this time to Bury who he made 14 league appearances for and scored one goal. It looked like he was starting to play well and he was showing his qualities but a shin injury cut short the loan. He ended up joining Stockport County later in the season and scored four goals in 16 league games.
npower League One - Bury vs. Preston North End - 08/09/12
Unfortunately he did not quite live up to his potential at Hull City but he did get a move to Luton Town and it was John Still who took a chance on him to help the club get back into League 2. He said on the signing. “I’ve been aware of Mark since he’s been at Hull under Peter Taylor and he thought a lot of the boy.”

Although he has not played as much as he would have hoped because of the form of other players in the squad he has contributed with seven goals including a last minute equaliser against Cambridge United to keep the club clear at the top of the table.
Cullen Luton
The final word can go to the Luton Town boss. “Mark’s got good ability, he can score, his movements clever and I think he’s going to develop into a really good player.”