25th June – Victor Wanyama

Victor Wanyama is the first Kenyan to play in the Premier League and also score in the Champions League in one of the biggest shocks in the competition.

While playing for Celtic the 23 year old scored against Barcelona in a 2-1 win which will go down in history as one of the club’s greatest victories in Europe. Although the defensive midfielder is not known for his goalscoring he has been a vital part to his club’s successes over the years.

Wanyama started his professional career in Belgium with Beerschot AC after a successful trial in the summer of 2008 and made his league debut towards the end of that season. His time in Belgium was mixed as he received a lot of praise for his performances but at times he was a little too aggressive and it did lead to him picking up a couple of red cards. It took him until the 11th December 2011 to score his first goal for the club as he equalised against Westerlo.
Wanyama Beer
After a failed attempt the previous summer, Celtic signed the midfielder for £900,000 on the 9th July 2011. He straightaway became a fans favourite as he did a lot of research on the club after signing and chose the number 67 shirt to honour Celtic’s European Cup winning team of that year. He made his debut for the club in a disappointing 1-0 loss to St Johnstone in the unfamiliar position of centre back but he was soon moved to his best position and proved to be a quality player. His first goal was definitely worth the wait as he scored with a fantastic striker from 25 yards against Hearts in December. At the end of the month he was named the SPL Young Player of the Month.
Wanyama Celtic
He finished the season with four goals to his name and in the next campaign he went even better by getting nine goals in all competitions, including opening the scoring against Barcelona. It wasn’t long after this goal that Wanyama was being linked with moves away from the club and after he rejected a new contract it seemed inevitable he would leave the Scottish champions and in July 2011 he joined Southampton.

The manager Mauricio Pochettino was very impressed with his new signing and knew it could be key to helping the team climb the table. “I am very pleased to have secured the signing of Victor because we are a big admirer of his talents and he will fit in well to the team at Southampton. I’ve watched him perform at the top level in the Champions League, and I believe that he will be a valuable addition to our Premier League squad for the season ahead.”
Wanyama Soton
Wanyama made his debut against West Brom but unfortunately could not have as much impact throughout the season as he struggled with a few niggling injuries and only ended up playing 24 games all season.

The final word can go to Neil Lennon. “I think Victor can play in any company. He is very consistent and you have to look at what he could develop into as well. He has been a great performer for us, he has adopted brilliantly to the British game.”

24th June – Kevin Nolan

Kevin Nolan will go down as one of the best players to never get an England cap and will also fall into the very small category of things Newcastle United fans can thank Joe Kinnear for.

The midfielder has scored goals all through his career and has always provided a threat from the centre of the pitch with his late runs into the box and a lot of opposition fans, particularly Sunderland, are sick of seeing his ‘chicken’ celebration. It is very surprising that he never got picked for an England squad as he was always been an influential member of every squad he has been in.

Nolan signed his first professional contract at Bolton Wanderers and made his debut in the 1999-2000 season but it was in his second season when he really started to show the fans his quality as he played 31 times in the league and also played the full 90 minutes of their playoff final win over Preston North End which got them to the Premier League.
Nolan Bolton
He settled quickly into the Premier League and scored twice on the opening day against Leicester City and finished the season with eight goals, including one at Old Trafford in a 2-1 win. Proving this was not a fluke result in the next season Bolton beat Manchester United again at Old Trafford 1-0 with Nolan getting the goal. However, it was a much more difficult season as the club just stayed in the top flight and that goal was Nolan’s only one all season.

The 2003-04 season was much better for everyone as the club finished in eighth place and reached the final of the League Cup. Nolan finished the season with 12 goals and then in the following season helped the club qualify for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history. He scored twice in that European run against Lokomotiv Plovdiv and Zenit St Petersburg.

After Jay-Jay Okocha left the club Nolan took over the captaincy as they once again qualified for Europe. It was in Europe that the club had one of their finest moments in recent history – a 2-2 draw away to German side Bayern Munich with Nolan setting up one of the goals with a long throw. Despite their good run in Europe they started to struggle in the league and they barely stayed in the league once again.

In January 2009 Nolan left Bolton after 323 league appearances and joined Joe Kinnear’s Newcastle United. It was a tough start to his career on Tyneside as the club were relegated and he was sent off for a horror tackle on Everton’s Victor Anichebe. But he vowed to stay at the club and get them back where they belong and he definitely played his part. He scored his first goal against Crystal Palace and followed this up shortly after with a hatrick against Ipswich Town. Throughout the season Nolan was made captain and finished it by being named the Championship Player of the Year. His 17 goals from midfield were crucial in winning the title and was now firmly a fan favourite.
Nolan Newcastle
At the start of the next season he was named the new club captain and scored a brace against Aston Villa in their first home game back in the Premier League. On the 31st October came one of the greatest moments ever for him and every Newcastle fan as he scored a hatrick against Sunderland in a 5-1 win. He ended the season with 12 league goals, including another in the return game with Sunderland.

Although he was very impressive for Newcastle he was sold to West Ham in the summer and was immediately made captain. He was tasked with helping get the club promoted and he delivered by scoring 12 times and helped them win the playoff final against Blackpool. Back in the Premier League once more his form did not drop and he scored his first goal of the season in an opening day win over Aston Villa. He hit double figures for the fourth season in a row and this included his 100th career goal and a hatrick against Reading.
Nolan WH
Last season was a bit more difficult as his disciplinary record was not the greatest but he did still finish it as West Ham’s top scorer and a lot of their fans seem to forget that when talking about his contributions.

The final word can go to Joe Kinnear who signed him at Newcastle. “When I heard there was a chance of getting Kevin I was determined we would pull out all the stops to bring him here. He’s a player I think our fans will love. He’s a real inspirational player and a great character. He’s the sort of lad who never knows when he is beaten.”

23rd June – Patrick Vieira

With three Premier League winners medals and another four Serie A title to his name, Patrick Vieira has certainly had a career to remember and now at the age of 38 he is happy leading Manchester City’s reserve team.

The midfielder dominated most players that came up against him and he had some of the best battles ever seen in the Premier League whenever he stepped on the pitch against Roy Keane and is considered one of the greatest rivalries of the last 20 years.

Vieira was always destined for greatness it seemed and had leadership qualities from a young age after he began his career at French club Cannes, making his debut at the age of just 17 and then captaining the side just two years later. After 49 league appearances for the club, a lot of the bigger European teams were looking to sign him and he eventually went to Milan. However, it was not easy for him and he only played twice in the league before joining Arsenal in August 1996.
Vieira Cannnes
He made his debut as a substitute against Sheffield Wednesday and then made his full debut three days later against Middlesbrough. His performances quickly made him a favourite among the fans and also his own players who could see the quality that he was bringing to the side and something different that they were previously lacking. He finished his first season with 38 appearances in all competitions but it would be the next year that really kick started his career.

Alongside Emmanuel Petit there was arguably no better central midfield partnership in the league as they were both instrumental in winning both the Premier League and the FA Cup. Vieira scored his first goal of the season in an important victory over Manchester United and although he started picking up a lot of bookings and red cards in the middle part of the season, when he was really needed he was there and towards the end of the season he only picked up one more booking.

However, over the next few seasons Arsenal struggled to win trophies and this was not helped by Vieira’s poor disciplinary problems and at the start of the 2000-01 season he was sent off twice in the space of 72 hours. Although he scored twice against Charlton Athletic in his next match, there was a lot of speculation he was about to leave the club, however he decided to stay.
Vieira Arsenal
Success finally returned for both club and player in the 2001-02 season after they once again won the League and FA Cup double and at the end of the season Vieira was named the new Arsenal captain after Tony Adams left the club. After being handed the armband his performances got even better and was one of the key players in the ‘Invincible’ team of the 2003-04. His next taste of success would be the FA Cup in 2005 where with his final touch for the club he scored the winning penalty against Manchester United after the game had finished 0-0.

In July 2005 Vieira signed for Juventus and made his debut against Chievo. Although he helped the club win Serie A, it was later stripped from them because of the match fixing scandal but the defining moment of his time was when he came up against Arsenal and a young Cesc Fabregas who had replaced him in the team in the Champions League. Arsenal went on to win the tie and send Juventus out and this must have been tough for Vieira to take.

After Juventus were relegated to Serie B, Vieira left to join Inter Milan and helped the club to win the next three Serie A titles. However, towards the end of his time at the club he began to feature less and was on the move in the January transfer window of 2010.
Vieira Inter
The French man returned to England and joined up with his former Inter manager Roberto Mancini at Manchester City. He didn’t get off to a great start though as on his debut they lost to Hull City. Three days later he made his full debut in a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers and set up the first goal for Emmanuel Adebayor and went on to score his first goal later in the season against Burnley in a 6-1 win and his performances convinced the manager enough to give him a new one year contract. In his final season he was very influential in the club’s FA Cup success as he scored three times in the competition. He retired soon after and ended his career with 651 club appearances and 58 goals.

The final word can go to Roberto Mancini. “Patrick is a world class midfielder with a winner’s mentality and will fit into this group very well. Patrick is one of the great players of his era with almost every honour in the game against his name.”

22nd June – Kieran Lee

Kieran Lee had a pretty slow start to his career at Sheffield Wednesday but last season proved to be one of their best players and was a very influential player on the pitch.

It is not surprising that he eventually showed his quality at Hillsborough because of how well he had already done in the past at previous clubs. It seemed like injuries were going to be a problem for him but his form improved dramatically after Dave Jones left the club and he started playing in the centre of midfield under Stuart Gray.

Lee did start his career as a central midfielder but at first club Manchester United he was used mostly as a fullback and after impressing for the under 18s and the reserves he was offered a professional contract at the club. During the 2006-07 season he was named the captain of the reserves team and also made his first team debut coming on as a substitute in a third round League Cup game against Crewe Alexandra. The scores were level at full time so the game went to extra time and Lee scored to make it 2-1 with a composed finish that seasoned pros would have been proud of.
Lee MU
He played once more in the League Cup that season and also made his Premier League debut against Chelsea on the 9th May and at the end of the season he was named the Reserve Player of the Year. Although he was named as a substitute in a Champions League game against Roma he never played for the Old Trafford club again and on the 2nd January he joined QPR on loan. He spent four months at the London club and made seven appearances before being released by his parent club.

In the summer of 2008 he joined Oldham Athletic and his career really kicked off and he became one of the most consistent players for the next few seasons. But he had to wait until the 26th December to make his debut in a 3-0 win over Crewe and to make it better he even provided the assist for the final goal. Lee had to wait until the next season to get his first goal and it was an important 95th minute equaliser against Swindon Town and he eventually became a first team regular for the first time in his career.
Soccer - npower Football League One - Oldham Athletic v Milton Keynes Dons - Boundary Park
When Paul Dickov became manager of Oldham his performances went to the next level and he was regarded as one of the best fullbacks in the Football League. At the end of the 2010-11 season he picked up four Player of the Year awards at the club, including Players’ Player of the Year and the Fans’ Player of the Year. Remarkably at the end of the following season he followed this up once more with yet another four awards.

Sheffield Wednesday then signed Lee in 2012 and the 26 year old is now one of their most important players and in the season just gone he played 26 times, scoring once and creating another four goals.
Kieran Lee of Sheffield Wednesday
The final word can go to the Oldham chairman Simon Corney. “Sometimes when players leave, you feel let down because you think they owe you something, but this is absolutely not the case with Kieran. He’s a great boy; I can’t speak highly enough of him; I wish we had 11 Kieran Lees”

21st June – Cheick Tiote

Cheick Tiote is currently at the World Cup with Ivory Coast and for his 28th birthday he will want nothing more than his country getting out of the group stages.

They started with a 2-1 win over Japan but lost against Colombia in their second group match and will be hoping that they can beat Greece in their final match they will qualify for their next round but the midfielder is on a yellow card and will have to be careful not to pick up another or he will be out of the second round match. Tiote is a player that picks up a lot of cards but this has never changed his style of play and never pulls out of a tackle.

Tiote has always had to battle to have a football career and didn’t own a pair of football boots until the age of 15. He started his career at FC Bibo in the Ivory Coast before he was scouted by Belgian club Anderlecht, who he signed for in 2005. He did not get many opportunities at the club and after just four league games he was sent out on loan to Roda JC. He had more success in Holland where he played 26 times and even managed to score twice in the league.
Tiote Roda
His performances convinced FC Twente to sign the Ivorian in October 2008. He gained a reputation for being a determined player that also had a keen eye for a pass. During his time at the club he played 58 league games and scored once, as well as assisting a further 14. His greatest moment was the 2009-10 season where he helped his team lift the Dutch title under the guidance of Steve McClaren.
Tiote Twente
On the 26th August 2010 Tiote signed for Newcastle United and made his debut shortly after against Everton where he impressed everyone by completing ever pass he attempted. Manager Chris Hughton was very happy with his purchase. “Cheick is a terrific signing for us and I am sure he will prove to be an excellent addition to the squad. He has a first class pedigree and I think his game is well suited to the Premier League.”

He quickly became a fan favourite for his all action displays but he received his first red card for the club in a third round FA Cup game against Stevenage. However, on his return he scored one of the most memorable goals in Premier League history against Arsenal. Newcastle had been trailing 4-0 at half time but managed to pull it back to 4-3 and in the last few minutes Tiote scored a volley from 25 yards to level the scores.
In 2011 he signed new six year deal at Newcastle and although his form has been slightly up and down over the last few seasons he is still one of their most important players and when he is on form Newcastle usually get results.
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Newcastle United - Emirates Stadium
Still a problem that Tiote has is the number of yellow cards he receives and in his first 50 Premier League games he picked up 25 bookings, however he still only has one red card which was slightly controversial in a game against Sunderland.

The final word can go to his current manager Alan Pardew. “Cheick is exactly the type of player I want in my squad. He is fantastic on the pitch and in the dressing room. He offers us strength and presence in midfield and has proved himself to be one of the best in his position in the Premier League.”

20th June – Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard’s 36th birthday may have been ruined by England getting knocked out of the World Cup but he has still had a phenomenal career and is Chelsea’s all time top scorer.

The midfielder has now officially left Chelsea but he will have a lot of offers to consider and it could be his last move before retirement so he will probably take his time to decide. He has been one of the best ever goalscoring midfielders in Europe and has always worked hard to get to the level that he wanted. Frank Junior started his career at West Ham United but had to get his first taste of first team football on loan to Swansea City where he played nine league games and scored his first professional goal against Brighton.

He eventually made his West Ham debut on the 31st January 1996 after coming on as a substitute against Coventry City and in the following season he started his first game against Arsenal. He made a further 15 appearances that season but a broken leg ended it early. The 1997-98 season was the breakthrough year for Lampard as he played a lot of games and scored his first Premier League goal on the opening day of the season and later scored a hatrick against Walsall in the League Cup. In total he played 42 times and scored nine goals.
Lampard WH
He played every game for West Ham the following season as they finished fifth in the Premier League and qualified for the Intertoto Cup. Lampard scored a few important goals in their European run, including one in the final against FC Metz. He finished the season as the club’s third highest scorer with 14 goals. However, the 2000-01 season was not as good for the club as they struggled in the league and finished 15th, despite this Lampard still managed nine goals from midfield. This would be his last season at the club as he joined Chelsea for £11 million in June 2001.
Lampard Chelsea
In his first few seasons at Chelsea he was a solid player for the club but he did not exactly look like he was going to break any records but he did spring to life in the 2003-04 season as he reached double figures for the first time in his career and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. The next season he really announced himself as one of the best with impressive performances both in the league and in Europe. In April 2005 he scored twice in a victory over Bolton Wanderers that won Chelsea their first title in fifty years.

After a lot more trophies and even more goals Lampard was one of the most feared midfielders in the world as he continued to break into the box and cause the opposition problems. There are many strikers that are jealous of his record and on the 11th May 2013 he scored twice against Aston Villa to equal then beat Bobby Tambling’s goal record. His final season at Chelsea started off brightly with him scoring in the opening day win over Hull City and later in the season moved into fourth place in the all time Premier League goalscoring list but he was not on the pitch as often as he would have liked and at the end of the season his contract was not extended and he leaves Chelsea after playing 648 times for the club and scored 211 goals.
Lampard England
The final word can go to his club captain John Terry. “He is different class. He’s not just done it for one year and then tailed off as we have seen a lot of players do. We have seen him for the past four, five, six years playing at a top level, scoring goals, passing brilliantly and working on things he’s not good at in training.”

19th June – Brian McBride

Brian McBride is a Fulham legend and one that will always be remembered fondly by their fans and has a sports bar at Craven Cottage named after him.

The former striker is 42 today and is one of the greatest ever players to come from America and had a very good career that began Milwaukee Rampage where he played for a short time but was very successful. He only played 18 times for the club but he managed to score 17 goals and assisted another 18 which alerted the attention of clubs in Europe and in 1994 he got his move to Germany.

McBride joined Wolfsburg who were playing in the second division at the time and his move encouraged a number of American to take up the sport as they seen that a player could make it in Europe. However, it was not a great time for him personally as he did not play as much as he would have wanted and also struggled to find the back of the net when the opportunities came. He did score twice in the DFB-Pokal quarter finals as the club went on to reach the final of the competition. After just 18 games he was released and returned to the United States.

He was drafted to Columbus Crew in 1996 and played in the inaugural Major League Soccer season. He ended up staying at the club for eight years and scored 62 times in 161 league games as well as providing 45 assists. During his time at the club he did have a few loan spells away from the club to England. Firstly he joined Preston North End in 2000 and although he played well, he only managed one goal in nine games, however this was partly down to the fact that he needed to have a blood clot surgically removed from his arm, which consisted of having a rib removed.
Mcbride CC
Two years later he once again linked up with David Moyes but this time at Everton. He only spent three months at the club but scored on his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in a 4-3 defeat and continued his good form in the country by scoring a further three times in seven games. Everton were interested in extending the loan but the MLS rejected it.

In January 2004 he eventually moved to England permanently by joining Fulham. In his first half a season he played 18 times and got five goals. Over the next few seasons he was a very good player for Fulham and even though he did not break any goalscoring records, he always contributed a lot to the team and they were certainly better when he was in the starting lineup.
Mcbride Fulham
After 140 Premier League games and 33 goals McBride returned to the MLS but many of his admirers, including Chris Coleman wished that the striker would stay and that he would have been brought over a lot earlier and had more years in England. But it wasn’t to be and in 2008 he joined Chicago Fire where he scored 18 times including one in the final game of his career.
McBride Chicago
He did return briefly to play for Wembley FC who had grouped together former internationals Ray Parlou, Martin Keown, Claudio Caniggia and Graeme Le Saux. However they did reach their target of making it into the FA Cup proper and he has not played competitively since.

The final word can got to former Fulham manager Roy Hodgson. “Brian McBride has been a fine ambassador for Fulham Football Club. As my captain last season Brian was truly respected in the dressing room and led by example on the pitch. His attitude is second to none – Brian is a true pro in every sense of the word.”