31st August – Pepe Reina

Pepe Reina is now without doubt the best second choice keeper in world football both at club level and international level and he should be at a top club playing every single game.

Now at Bayern Munich, the goalkeeper is behind Manuel Neuer in the pecking order but at least he has experience of sitting on the bench as he has done it for Spain for a number of years as he has watched Iker Casillas. Some would argue that he should still be Liverpool’s first choice but Brendan Rodgers went with Simon Mignolet even though Reina fits his style of football.

Reina started his career at Barcelona and from 1997 he was the first choice goalkeeper for the reserve side before being called up to the first team in 2000 after injuries. He made his debut in a 3-3 draw with Celta Vigo on the 2nd of December. In total he made 33 appearances for the club that season and helped them reach the semi finals of the UEFA Cup.
Jose Reina
In the following season he had to settle for a place on the bench for most of the campaign but did still play in 16 games. In July 2002 he joined Villarreal and was their undisputed number one barely missing a game in his three seasons at the club and became one of the most consistent goalkeepers in Europe. He played 136 times in all competitions before joining Liverpool in July 2005.
Reina Villarreal
He made his Liverpool debut in the Champions League qualifier against Welsh side TNS. His first season at the club was very successful as he helped them win the FA Cup and also a huge success personally. On the 3rd December against Wigan Athletic he kept his sixth consecutive clean sheet in the Premier League, and then went on to break the clean sheet record in all competitions after not conceding for 11 games.

In his first season he played 53 games and he holds a Liverpool record of conceding the fewest amount of goals in 50 games, conceding just 29. And at the end of the season he was awarded the Golden Glove for keeping 20 clean sheets and in the FA Cup final he saved three of West Ham’s four penalties to lift the trophy.

The 2006-07 season was just as impressive for the keeper as he once again won the Golden Glove after keeping 19 clean sheets and was also a hero in another penalty shootout against Chelsea in the Champions League semi final. Once again in the 2007-08 season he won the Golden Glove for the third consecutive season with 18 clean sheets and on the 2nd February 2008 he became the quickest goalkeeper in Liverpool history to reach 50 clean sheets.
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Reina continued to be Liverpool’s number one for the next few seasons and in 2011 he broke the club record for clean sheets in a 2-0 win over Chelsea. But after a red card in a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United it meant that his streak of 183 consecutive Premier League appearances came to an end.

On the 19th July 2013 he signed for Napoli on a season long loan and helped them win the Coppa Italia but after 41 appearances his loan was not made permanent and he returned to Liverpool. On the 8th August 2014 Reina left Liverpool after 394 games and joined Bayern Munich.

The final word can go to Rafael Benitez. “Pepe’s record at Liverpool is very good. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He’s had a lot of clean sheets and you can see the confidence the defenders have in him. When he plays, the defenders look very comfortable and that is so important.”

30th August – Svetoslav Todorov

Not many football fans will care about Bulgarian side Dobrudzha Dobrich but their manager is someone that a lot of English football fans will know, particularly Portsmouth.

Svetoslav Todorov is the manager and he turns 36 today and will most likely be remembered by those that visited Fratton Park in the early 2000s as he was a vital part of the team for a number of years and scored some very important goals. Unfortunately injuries played a big part in his career and he was not able to reach the heights he could have.

The striker started his career at the club he is now managing and scored twice in 12 appearances for them in the 1996-97 season. His performances started to attract attention from other clubs and in 1997 he joined Litex Lovech where he stayed for four seasons and scored 34 times in just 70 games. This led to him being offered a trial at West Ham.
Todorov Lovech
He made his debut in a 3-0 defeat against Liverpool and only had to wait until his third game to score his first goal for the club in a 3-2 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. He only scored one league goal for the club against Middlesbrough and after Harry Redknapp was replaced by Glenn Roeder he did not get much game time.

This prompted Redknapp to sign the player for a second time and he joined Portsmouth in March 2002. He did not have the best of starts at Portsmouth as he was sent off in his second game and only made one more appearance in the 2001-02 season. However, the following season Todorov showed his true potential and helped Portsmouth gain promotion to the Premier League by finishing as the league’s top scorer with 26 goals, including a hatrick on the final day against Bradford City. In the summer he signed a new three year deal with Portsmouth.

Injuries stopped him becoming even more of a Portsmouth legend as he damaged a cruciate knee ligament just days before the start of the new season and he only played once in the 2003-04 campaign. Another surgery in May 2004 once again kept him out for the entire season but despite his injuries he was given a new contract in August 2005. He played 24 times in the 2004-05 season and scored four goals in the league which was an ok record seen as though most of these were from the substitutes bench. He was an important member of Portsmouth’s escape from relegation that season as he scored crucial goals against West Ham, Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland.
Todorov Pompey
After scoring twice in the opening three games of the season for Portsmouth, he was surprisingly loaned out to Wigan Athletic where he only played five times and did not score before returning to his parent club. Having fallen down the pecking order he joined Charlton Athletic in the Championship but in his two seasons he only played 20 times and scored three goals.
Todorov Charlton
On the 16th July 2009 he rejoined Litex Lovech and scored on his debut after coming on as a substitute in a 5-0 win against Lokomotiv Mezdra. He spent three seasons at the club and in his final year he scored six times in just 11 games but left the club in the summer of 2012 and joined Ukrainian Premier League club Hoverla Uzhhorod and after not scoring in nine league games he announced his retirement on the 24th November.

The final word can go to Harry Redknapp. “He is a very intelligent footballer and will bring good competition in the striking department. We wouldn’t bring in a second division striker for that mony these days so I think it’s a real sniff.”

29th August – Stephen Carr

Stephen Carr is one of the few footballers in the world that has retired from the game and then came back to produce some of the best performances of his career.

The right back announced his retirement in December 2008 but came out of retirement in 2009 and went on to play until 2013. Carr was a consistent player all through his career but when he came back he seemed to have even more passion for the sport and did everything he could to help influence games.

Carr started his career at Tottenham Hotspur and went on to make his debut on the 29th September 1993 away to Ipswich Town. This would be his only league appearance until the 1996-97 season when he became first choice for Spurs and became one of the most promising right backs in the Premier League. In the following season he featured in 38 league games.

In the late 90s and 00s he was definitely one of the best and consistent right backs in the country and picked up his first medal after helping Spurs win the League Cup, beating Leicester City 1-0 in the 1999 final. After scoring a fantastic goal against Manchester United in the 1999-00 season he was linked with moves away from the club but these never materialised.
Carr Spurs
Injuries would slow down Carr’s career as in the summer of 2001 he started having problems with his knee which required an operation. This meant that he missed all of the season. Carr returned in October 2002 and despite being out for so long he never looked like he had been away.

He played 272 games for Tottenham scoring eight goals before moving on to Newcastle United. Carr made his debut against Middlesbrough in a 2-2 draw. In his first season he played 26 games in the league but it was a disappointing one for the club as they finished 14th. The 2005-06 season was much tougher for him as a persistent knee injury kept him out for two months and he only played 19 league games.
The following season he once again picked up an injury, this time with a fractured foot. When he did return he played at left back and this was seen as the beginning of the end for him as he fell further down the pecking order in the 2007-08 season.

After failing to find a suitable club, Carr announced his retirement from the game on the 1st December 2008 but he unexpectedly returned signing for Birmingham City on the 23rd February and made his debut the following day in a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace. Carr helped the club win promotion and signed a new two year deal at the end of the season and was part of the impressive team that went a club record 12 games unbeaten in the Premier League. During the season he was also given the captain’s armband and led the team to victory in the 2011 League Cup final against Arsenal.
Carr BC
However, at the end of the season they were relegated but Carr went on to make his 100th appearance for the club in a Europa League game against Portuguese club Nacional. Carr only played a further 21 times over the next two seasons after picking up several injuries and officially retired from the game with 500 senior appearances to his name at club level.

The final word can go to former Birmingham manager Alex McLeish. “He has done well – his hunger has been superb ever since he arrived. He is fully motivated with the kind of quality that counts in the Premier League – he’s always positive and he has got a winner’s attitude.”

28th August – Bojan Krkic

A player going from Barcelona to Stoke City is not a transfer that many football fans expect to see especially when they have played over 100 times for the Spanish giants.

Bojan will take time to settle in the Premier League but with him signing a four year contract at Stoke he will definitely have the opportunity to adapt to the pace and power of the league. The 24 year old still has the best years in front of him and after a very impressive pre season much is expected of him over the season and if Mark Hughes’ side can perform like they did last year then they could push for Europe.

The striker, who can also play on the wing, started his career in Barcelona’s B team and impressed for them in the 2006-07 season by scoring 10 goals in 22 games and went on to become the youngest player to play for Barcelona on the 16th September 2007 against Osasuna after coming on as a substitute. Three days later he then made his debut in the Champions League against Lyon. On the 20th October 2007, aged just 17 years and 53 days he started his first game and scored in the 25th minute against Villarreal. He finished his first season as a professional with 10 goals, including one in the Champions League against Schalke.

For the 2008-09 season Bojan was handed the number 11 shirt but he had to settle for a place on the bench for the majority of the season. But he played a role in helping the club win La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa Del Rey. He was particularly effective in the Copa Del Rey by scoring five goals in the competition, including one in the final against Athletic Bilbao.
Bojan Barcelona
The 2009-10 season followed a similar pattern with him being used mainly off the bench but he had a fantastic end to the season which saw him score seven times in the final 12 games. In the following season he changed number once again and was given the number nine shirt. However he found himself behind David Villa, Pedro and Lionel Messi in the pecking order and didn’t quite hit the standards of the season before but he did play his 100th game for Barcelona and marked it with a goal against Getafe.

On the 22nd July he signed for Roma with a buyback clause giving Barcelona the option to re-sign him. He had to wait until the 1st October to score his first goal for the club against Atalanta and ended the season with seven goals in 33 appearances. After just one season he joined AC Milan on loan and after just three goals in 27 games he returned to former club Barcelona who took up the buyback option.
Bojan Roma
Without playing again for Barcelona he was sent out on loan, this time to Ajax. He had a tough start at the club by picking up a hamstring injury that would keep him out for a part of the first half of the season. But when he returned he helped Ajax win the league with four goals in 24 games.
Bojan Ajax
Stoke City signed him on the 22nd July 2014 for an undisclosed fee and he made his debut in a 1-0 loss against Aston Villa but put in a good performance.

The final word can go to Mark Hughes. “Anyone who knows European football will be aware of him as a player. He’s desperate to prove himself in the Premier League and we’re pleased to be able to offer him that platform.”

27th August – Dietmar Hamann

Dietmar Hamann came on at halftime in the 2005 Champions League final for Liverpool and at that point they were 3-0 down and although he doesn’t get the headlines he played a crucial role in them lifting the trophy.

The holding midfielder coming on allowed Steven Gerrard to push further forward and get into the box. For his part in the final he will always be a legend in the Liverpool fans eyes but he was also a very consistent performer and he never let down any of the teams he played for.

Hamann started his career at little known German club FC Wacker Munchen and after impressing for them he joined Bayern Munich at the age of 16 in 1989 and eventually made his debut in 1993. In his first season he played in the unfamiliar position of right midfield and scored one goal in his six appearances. After several injuries to first team players Hamann became a regular as the holding midfielder and played 30 times in the Bundesliga. The 1995-96 season was difficult for the club and he was one of the few bright spots, however they did still end up winning the UEFA Cup.
Hamann BM
For the next two seasons he was a regular in the side and added a Bundesliga title to his medal collection but after 105 league games it was time for him to leave the club and joined Newcastle United in 1998 for £5.5 million. After a foot injury he recovered to become a fantastic signing and scored five goals in 31 matches. This turned out to be his only season at the club as he joined Liverpool in July 1999 for £8 million.

The midfielder was very influential throughout his time at Liverpool and by the time he left £8 million was a bargain. The 2000-01 season was very successful for both him personally and Liverpool as they won the League Cup, FA Cup and the UEFA Cup with Hamann playing 53 times in all competitions and scoring three goals. Over the next few seasons he was a regular side and although he is mostly remembered for his contribution in the final of the 2005 Champions League final, he also had a major impact earlier on in the competition. In the first leg of the round of 16 against Bayer Leverkusen he put in a fantastic display and finished it off by scoring the final goal in a 3-1 win. He also took the first penalty in the shootout win over AC Milan.
Hamann Liverpool
In the following season Liverpool won the FA Cup on penalties and once again Hamann had the bravery to take the first spot kick and scored with what would be his last kick for the club. In the summer he joined Manchester City after being at Bolton Wanderers for one day and then having a change of heart. City had to play £400,000 for the midfielder. He spent three seasons at City and played 54 times in the Premier League but was then released in 2009 and spent a year out of the game before becoming player-coach at MK Dons on a one year contract.
Hamann MC
He played 12 times for the club before joining Leicester City as a coach on the 3rd February 2011. After this he had a short spell in charge of Stockport County where he only won three games in his 20 matches in charge.

Hamann also gets the honour of scoring the last goal at the old Wembley Stadium for Germany in a 1-0 win over England.

The final word can go to Stuart Pearce. “I am delighted he is here as he brings experience and leadership qualities to the team. He has everything. If you get more winners like him in your squad, you are going in the right direction.”

26th August – Colin Kazim-Richards

Colin Kazim-Richards was once dubbed the ‘Coca Cola Kid’ after the company ran a competition for football fans to sign a player for their club.

Kazim-Richards was the player that Brighton signed after a fan of their club won the competition and the £250,000 was given to the club to sign a player. This is an extraordinary start to a career that just kept on getting more incredible as it went on with the striker travelling over Europe to play football and also represent Turkey’s national team despite being brought up in England but qualified for Turkey through his mother.

The striker started his career at Bury and after progressing through their youth team he was already attracting attention from bigger clubs at the age of 15. He broke into the first team in the 2004-05 season and scored three times in 30 appearances but his performances were very impressive for someone so young. It was at the age of 18 he signed for Brighton but as expected he played a lot from the bench in his first season at the club, however his still managed six goals, including their 5000th league goal.
Kazim Richards Brighton
He only stayed at the club for one season and submitted a transfer request which Brighton accepted and then sold him to Sheffield United for £125,000 on the 31st August 2006. He once again only lasted one season at the club and in his 27 league games he only managed one goal in a 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers.

On the 15th June 2007 he joined Turkish club Fenerbahce and in his first two seasons at the club he was in and out of the first team but he did manage to score in the Champions League quarter final against Chelsea on the 2nd April 2008. Despite his good performances when he was on the pitch he had a difficult relationship with the fans at times and was loaned out to French club Toulouse in January 2010 and scored on his debut in a 3-1 win over Le Mans.
Kazim Richards Fener
After 18 appearances and two goals he returned to Fenerbahce but after just another five games he was released on the 3rd January 2011 and joined local rivals Galatasaray and in his first half a season he scored five times including one against former club Fenerbahce. After a total of 35 games and seven goals and a short loan spell at Olympiakos, Kazim-Richards returned to England.
Kazim Richards Gala
Blackburn Rovers signed the striker on loan but his time at the club was blighted by a court appearance over an alleged homophobic gesture in a match away to former club Brighton. He managed to score five times in his 31 games but his loan was not made permanent and he signed for Bursaspor on the 4th September 2013 on a four year deal but after just one season he has joined Dutch side Feyenoord on loan.

The final word can go to former Blackburn manager Steve Kean. “He could be a real versatile player for us as he can play through the middle or he can play out wide. He’s got great power in his right foot and technically he has improved dramatically having played with some top players out in Turkey.”

25th August – Marlon Harewood

Marlon Harewood has been a consistent goalscorer all through his career and now coming towards the end of it the 35 year old is trying to help Hartlepool United achieve their aims.

Although Hartlepool have had a slightly disappointing start to the season they secured their first win of the campaign away to Wimbledon with Harewood scoring the winning goal. If the team are to be successful then it may come down to how effective Harewood can be and that is not just in scoring goals, it will be his experience helping some of the younger players develop.

Harewood started his career at Nottingham Forest and made his debut in 1998 but to gain further first team experience he joined Finnish side Haka on loan and his three goals in 18 games helped them win the league and the Finnish Cup. In the following year he joined Ipswich Town on loan and scored once against Bury in his six appearances before going to become one of the most lethal goalscorers in the Championship with Forest. His best season for the club was 2002-03 as he scored 21 goals and formed a brilliant partnership with David Johnson which helped the club reach the playoffs. After 51 league goals he left for West Ham in November 2003.
Harewood Forest
They paid £500,000 for his services and repaid them in his first full season at the club as he was the top scorer as the team got promoted to the Premier League with 23 goals in all competitions. And he also then played a huge part in keeping them in the top flight with 14 goals in the Premier League, including a hatrick against Aston Villa. He was also a big player in their run to the final of the FA Cup that season and scored the winning goal in the semi final against Middlesbrough.
Harewood WH
His next season was difficult and it was clear that he would be leaving at the end of the season as he was no longer first choice. On the 17th July 2007 he joined Aston Villa for £4 million. His time at Villa was interesting because he was very influential when he was on the pitch but was largely used as a super sub. Despite only playing 23 times he scored five goals in his first season. But he played even less in the following season and joined Wolves on loan. He played five times for the club and failed to score.

His next loan spell was much more successful at Newcastle United as he scored five times in 15 games and helped them secure their place at the top of the table in the early months of the season. At the end of the season he was released by Villa and signed for newly promoted Blackpool. He scored on his debut in a 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic and had a fantastic record in the Premier League scoring five times in just 11 appearances, and strangely he was loaned out to Barnsley for the second half of the season and scored four goals in 10 games.
Harewood Barnsley
On the 8th July 2011 he joined Chinese side Guangzhou R&F and stayed there for half a season, playing 10 games and scoring four goals. The next few seasons were difficult for Harewood as he returned to Nottingham Forest but could not recapture his earlier form and then also to Barnsley where he struggled again and after just one league goal at Bristol City it seemed like his career was coming to an end.

Now at Hartlepool he seems to be enjoying his football again and with him being one of the key members of the squad he will be hoping for a much more successful season than his previous few.

The final word can go to Martin O’Neill. “I couldn’t be more pleased with him. I think he has been really excellent. The crowd have taken to him. Some people come on as a substitute and never get a kick. He has been able to force his way into the game, and make a big impact.”