9th March – Juan Sebastian Veron

Manchester United have spent a lot of money over the years and a lot of this has been on Argentinean midfielders, including Juan Sebastian Veron.

Obviously Angel Di Maria has been grabbing all the headlines lately for his somewhat average performances after a massive money move and to a lot of the Old Trafford faithful it must feel like déjà vu. Veron came to Manchester United with a reputation of being one of the best players in the world and he will forever go down as one of Alex Ferguson’s biggest flops as he struggled to adapt to life in England and failed to produce the goods while in the Premier League.

Now 40, Veron started his career in Argentina with Estudiantes, where he is currently chairman, in 1993. During his second season at the club he became a valuable member of the team and helped the club get promoted to the top flight. After 60 league games he would leave and join Argentinean giants Boca Juniors. While there he lined up alongside Diego Maradona but he would only last 17 league games before moving on to try his hand in Europe.

JSV Estudiantes

In 1996 he joined Italian side Sampdoria, who were managed by Sven Goran Eriksson at the time, and was an instant success. This convinced Parma to splash out on the midfielder after an impressive 1998 World Cup and he was once again one of the first names on the team sheet as the club won the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup. Despite this success he would only stay the one season and was signed once again by Eriksson, this time for Lazio and he would go on to even better things.

JSV Sampdoria

During the 1999-00 season he was the driving force and it was not a surprise that they were so successful as Veron was one of the best attacking midfielders in the world at that point and would create numerous chances for the strikers. Lazio ended the season winning Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Italian Super Cup as well as lifting the European Super Cup. His second season was not quite as productive as he was involved in a lot of off field matters that seemed to affect his performances.

On the 12th July 2001 Veron was signed by Manchester United for £28.1 million which was a new British transfer record. But the midfielder never lived up to this price tag and despite some impressive performances in the Champions League, he never quite showed his talents in the Premier League. Injuries also didn’t help his situation but he did manage to pick up a Premier League winners medal at the end of the 2002-03 season. After 51 fairly disappointing league games, Veron somewhat surprisingly moved to another English club, signing for Chelsea for £15 million.

JSV MU

At Chelsea he got off to a good start by scoring a winning goal against Liverpool at Anfield but not a lot went right for him after that and he only ended up playing 15 times in total for the club. When Jose Mourinho was appointed manager he loaned Veron out to Inter Milan for two seasons and his performances were better in Italy as he helped the club win the Coppa Italia twice. He did return to Chelsea but it wasn’t for long as he was quickly loaned back out to Estudiantes until the end of his contract. He was back to his best in his homeland and played for a further six seasons and was even voted South American Footballer of the Year in 2008 and 2009 as well as best player of the 2009 Copa Libertadores as his side went on to win the competition.

The final word can go to Alex Ferguson. “He is a marvellous player. He brings a nice pace to the team. What we have done is bring in a really top player, one of the best in the world. He’s a fantastic footballer and will bring a personality to the team.”

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4th February – Kevin Campbell

Kevin Campbell may not be one of the biggest names to have played during the Premier League era but he was certainly a good striker that could always grab a goal for whoever he was playing for.

The 45 year old has been retired since 2007 but will be fondly remembered by Everton and West Brom in particular. During his career he did a rare thing for an English player and that was play abroad. He also scored 83 Premier League goals which puts him number 40 in the all time list.

Campbell began his career at Arsenal and was prolific for the youth team, scoring 59 goals in a single season and helping the club win the FA Youth Cup. He went on to make his debut on 7th May 1988 against Everton, unfortunately he could not find his way past Paul Merson and Alan Smith to secure a first team spot. In 1989 he joined Leyton Orient on loan and was a success scoring nine times in 16 games which led to them wanting to sign him permanently, however Arsenal refused to sell.

Campbell AFC

He went out on loan once more, this time to Leicester City and again showed that he could find the back of the net with five goals in 11 games. In the 1990-91 season he established himself in the Arsenal first team and helped the team win the First Division title after scoring eight times in ten games during the run in. After the signing of Ian Wright, Campbell got less recognition for his work but still chipped in with some important goals. Over the next few seasons he helped the team win the FA Cup, League Cup and the Cup Winners Cup. More signings were made, including John Hartson and Dennis Bergkamp, so Campbell left the club after playing 224 games and scoring 59 goals.

Nottingham Forest signed the striker for £2.5 million in the summer of 1995 but unfortunately he could not stop them from getting relegated in 1997. He stuck with the team and his 23 goals in the following season helped them to an immediate return to the Premier League. Controversy then clouded the next 12 months of his career as he was sold to Turkish side Trabzonspor for £2.5 million and this made Forest striker Pierre van Hooijdonk go on strike. But worse was still to come as after just seven months he was involved in a racist incident with the club president. Campbell was very popular with the fans and the other players so they stood behind him and accompanied him to the press conference announcing his departure and the reasons.

Campbell NF

In March 1999, Campbell joined relegation threatened Everton and was arguably one of the greatest loans ever in the Premier League. Despite only playing eight games he finished the season as the club’s top scorer with nine goals and was named April’s Player of the Month. In the summer he made the move permanent and he became even more of a legend at the club by scoring the winner against Liverpool at Anfield. Although Everton were largely disappointing in the Premier League with bottom half finishes, Campbell was a regular scorer.

Campbell Everton

West Brom then signed Campbell on a free transfer in January 2005 and many had written them off after being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas. But after making Campbell captain there was an upturn in form and he led them to survival, the first time a team had achieved this. Unfortunately he could not repeat the trick in the following season and the club were relegated and was released. He then joined Cardiff City but he could not have as much of an influence as he hoped and played his last professional game on the 20th February 2007 against former club West Brom.

The final word can go to Bryan Robson. “He’s got vast experience and Premier League know-how. I think he’ll be a success. He’s up for trying to keep us in the Premier League. The way he leads the line is a good example to everybody but the way he gets on with players has been excellent.”

6th October – Mark Schwarzer

Chelsea are in a rare position of having two world class keepers in their squad but even more remarkably their third choice Mark Schwarzer has also been one of the best in the Premier League era.

The 42 year old will probably not play many more games but he can look back on his time in England and have some wonderful memories. Some would argue that he is still better than some first choice keepers in the top flight and maybe should have moved on and tried to have another season of regular football but it must be a fantastic experience being at Chelsea now.

Schwarzer started his career as a 19 year old at Australian side Marconi Stallions. After playing 58 times in the National Soccer League he made the move to Europe and joined German side Dynamo Dresden, where he spent one season before moving on to fellow Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern. In his two years in Germany he only made six appearances.
Schwarzer Marconi
In the 1996-97 season he joined Bradford City and featured 16 times before being signed by Premier League side Middlesbrough in February 1997. The keeper made his debut in the semi final of the League Cup against Stockport County and helped them reach the final. He played the full 90 minutes of the final against Leicester City but after the game finished 1-1 an injury kept him out of the replay.

With the club suffering relegation at the end of the season Schwarzer was made their first choice goalkeeper and he helped them return to the Premier League on the first attempt. He kept his place in the side for the majority of the next ten seasons and despite a mistake in the final of the 2004 League Cup against Bolton Wanderers, he recovered well and helped the club lift their first ever trophy after winning the game 2-1. He would also play a key part in the club securing a place in Europe at the end of the 2004-05 season as he saved a last minute penalty against Manchester City which meant they finished in 7th place. Middlesbrough would go onto reach the final of the UEFA Cup and Schwarzer recovered from a fractured cheekbone to play in the match, however he could not stop them getting beat by Sevilla.
Middlesbrough v Cardiff City - FA Cup 6th Round
Despite being offered a new contract he left the club and joined Fulham on the 21st May 2008 after 445 games for Boro. In his first season he played every minute in the league and kept 10 clean sheets, helping Fulham to 7th place and was rewarded by being named Fulham’s Player of the Year.

For the next four seasons he was incredibly consistent and reached his second European final as Fulham got to the final of the Europa League in 2010 but once again he had to settle for a runners up medal. After the signing of Maarten Stekelenburg, Schwarzer left the club at the end of the 2012-13 season.
Schwarzer Fulham
On the 9th July 2013 he signed for Chelsea and was limited to League Cup appearances early on but did go on to become the oldest player to debut in the Champions League when he played against Steaua Bucharest and would then become Chelsea’s oldest player to play in the Premier League as he started against Sunderland at the age of 41 years and 195 days. He also played against Liverpool at Anfield and helped his side to a 2-0 win which was his 150th clean sheet in the Premier League.

The final word can go to Jose Mourinho. “Mark Schwarzer is what we need. Mark knows that he comes to be an important member of the squad. With Mark we have a goalkeeper who has played an incredible number of matches in the last 10 years in the Premier League and he is more than ready for this.”

30th May – Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard is going to be England’s captain at the World Cup and will be hoping that they finally produce at a big tournament despite low expectations from the fans.

The Liverpool captain who turns 34 will want to continue his fantastic club form in the tournament and as this may be his last major international tournament he will surely want to make a mark. Unfortunately Liverpool could not win the Premier League title last season and it is the closest the skipper has been to picking up the trophy but he has had an exceptional career and is surely one of the best to have never won the title, however he has picked up ever other trophy in club football.

He is a one man club and signed his first professional contract with Liverpool in 1997 and made his first team debut on the 29th November 1998 against Blackburn Rovers. He became a first team regular in the 1999-00 season in the centre of midfield, partnering Jamie Redknapp but it was a season of ups and downs with him receiving his first red card and he struggled with injuries that required operations, slowing down his progress but he did manage to score his first goal against Sheffield Wednesday.
Gerrard Liverpool
He recovered from his injuries and in the 2000-01 season he played 50 times and won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup and scored 10 times in all competitions. His next big moment came in October 2003 when he was named Liverpool captain by Gerard Houllier. Soon after he was linked with moves away but decided to stay with the club. The next season started slowly for Gerrard as he was injured in September and wouldn’t return until November. On his return he scored one of the best and most memorable goals of his career against Olympiakos securing Liverpool’s place in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Liverpool reached two finals that season and Gerrard had a major impact in both. Firstly in the League Cup final he scored an own goal in a 3-2 loss to Chelsea but he had a much more positive impact in the Champions League final, scoring the first in Liverpool’s incredible comeback and then winning the penalty that levelled the scores. He was also given the man of the match award by UEFA after the game.
Gerrard Liverpool 2
In the next season he became more of an attacking midfielder and scored 23 times in 53 appearances and was named PFA Player of the Year. But more importantly he scored twice in the FA Cup final against West Ham which meant he is the only player to have scored in FA, League, Champions League and UEFA Cup finals.

Even though Gerrard continued to play exceptionally and gain respect from everyone in the game the trophies dried up at Liverpool. His greatest week in recent years is in March 2009 when he scored twice in a 4-0 win over Real Madrid and then four days later he scored against Manchester United at Old Trafford in a 4-1 win.

The 2011-12 season Liverpool seemed to be getting back on track and Gerrard was a big part of that, helping them win the League Cup against Cardiff City. During the season he also scored a hatrick against rivals Everton. Unfortunately they could not build on this and the 2012-13 season was more difficult.
Gerrard Liverpool 3
But onto the season just finished and Liverpool looked like the team that was going to win the title for a long time. Gerrard scored his 100th Premier League goal against Newcastle United and then the club went on a great run in the second half of the season that brought them to within touching distance of the title but all the momentum was lost when they were beaten 2-0 by Chelsea at Anfield with the first goal a result of a Gerrard slip. This maybe the most defining moment of the season but Gerrard had one of the best seasons of his career as he adapted to a new role in the team and was fantastic all through the campaign.

The final word can go to Real Madrid and France legend Zinedine Zidane. “He has great passing ability, can tackle and scores goals, but most importantly he gives players around him confidence and belief. You can’t learn that – players like him are just born with that presence.”

29th May – Andrey Arshavin

Not many players have scored four goals at Anfield and even less have done it while playing for the away team but that is exactly what Andrey Arshavin did in 2009.

Now 33 he should be remembered fondly by Arsenal fans because he did pop up with important goals for the club and when he first signed there was a real excitement. His career has had some ups and downs but he is certainly someone that when he is on form, even now, can change a game in the blink of an eye and has always been a player that can produce a bit of magic.

He started his career at Russian club Zenit St Petersburg and made his debut in an Intertoto Cup match against Bradford City in 2000. Over the next few years he became an important player and he proved his versatility by playing in a number of different attacking positions. But he had to wait until the 2007-08 season that he became known all around Europe as he helped his team win the Russian title for the first time since 1984, scoring 11 goals and assisting another 11 in just 30 appearances. Zenit also won the UEFA Cup that season and Arshavin finished with the most assists in the tournament and was awarded the man of the match in the final.
Arshavin Zenit
After several failed attempts from clubs such as Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur, Arshavin joined Arsenal in 2009 January transfer window. He made his debut against Sunderland and shortly after scored his first goal against Blackburn Rovers. But it was on the 21st April he will mostly be remembered for as he scored four times against Liverpool in an incredible match that ended 4-4. He impressed the whole month of April and was named the Premier League Player of the Month and at end of the season came second in Arsenal’s Player of the Year vote even though he was only there for half the season and manager Arsene Wenger was hoping for even more the next season. “Andrey is an exciting impact player with a huge amount of ability. He has what you cannot give a player. He understands when there is danger, when there’s an opportunity.”
Arshavin Arsenal
Arshavin started the next season well scoring against Celtic in the Champions League and Manchester United in the Premier League but unfortunately they lost the game 2-1 despite his terrific goal. In December he proved his versatility at Arsenal by playing as a lone striker and performing well in a game against Stoke City, in the game he won a penalty (which was missed), scored and set up the second goal. He then returned to Anfield and once again put in a great performance with the team winning 2-1 and him scoring an important goal. In early January he then scored in a victory over Bolton Wanderers which put the team top of the league, however injuries hindered the rest of his season and the club could not hold onto top spot.

Despite an impressive start to the new season, he didn’t quite hit top form. However, he scored in some of the club’s most memorable games – a 4-1 victory over Tottenham and in a 2-1 victory over Barcelona. Unfortunately fans had started to worry about Arshavin because he was not tracking back and doing his defensive work and Wenger started to leave him out a lot more in the 2011-12 season and in January he rejoined Zenit on loan. He made 11 appearances for the club and scored three times before returning to Arsenal.
Arshavin Arsenal 2
He wasn’t given many chances when he came back but did make his 100th Premier League appearance against Norwich City before being told his contract would not be renewed. When his deal finished he rejoined Zenit for a third time. In the season just finished he played 34 times, scoring four goals and assisting eight more.

The final word can go to his former Arsenal teammate Johan Djourou. “Great players come back, they have down moments sometimes. I have never worried about Andrey because he has so many qualities and shows it again and again.”

11th May – Jeremy Goss

This man did not score many goals but it is hard to forget the ones that they did, very few players will have left the Norwich City fans with such fantastic memories.

Jeremy Goss who is 49 today scored in Norwich’s victory away to Bayern Munich with an incredible volley which put the Canaries 1-0 up. They ended up winning the game 2-1 and this meant that they were the first English club to beat Bayern in their own backyard. The goal is often referred to as Norwich’s most famous. Remarkably he also scored in the return leg which sent the team through to the next round with a 3-2 aggregate win. Unfortunately they were knocked out by Inter Milan in the next round but this is a tie that nobody will ever forget.
Goss Norwich
Goss came through Norwich’s youth team so it will have meant a lot to him too and early in his career he also had success by being part of the team that won the FA Youth Cup in 1983. After breaking into the first team he spent the majority of time as a substitute but in the 1990-91 season he progressed into a first team regular and was named in the starting lineup for the majority of games. It did not take him long to make an impact and he earned a call up to the Wales squad soon afterwards. In the opening month of the 1993-94 season he scored a stunning volleyed goal against Leeds United which was voted as goal of the month.

It was not just how impressive his goals were that will make him go down in history, it is also the importance of them. Goss also has the distinction of scoring the last goal in front of the terraced Spion Kop at Anfield.
Goss No
Goss remained a regular until Norwich were relegated from the Premier League in the 1994-95 season and he was dropped by manager Martin O’Neill at first but he managed to convince the him that he was worth a place in the team. He eventually got back his place and scored a spectacular goal against Derby County which just added to his reputation of being someone that could score from any angle.

In 1996 after 188 appearances for Norwich he left the club and joined Scottish club Hearts but he only played 10 league games for the club and then returned to England with Colchester United. However, he did not play a league game and then signed for non league side King’s Lynn before retiring in 1999.
Goss Hearts
After retirement he worked as Norwich’s community ambassador until January 2010 but was not away from the club long as he became the reserve team’s assistant. Goss currently spends most of his time supporting the Norwich and Norfolk Association of the Blind and did a 1300 mile sponsored bike ride which retraced Norwich’s European Cup run in 1993.

The final word can go to former Norwich striker Chris Sutton. “Gossy’s volley against Bayern Munich is undeniably mine and virtually every Norwich City fan’s abiding memory of our European campaign. He was always a determined player with incredible drive and energy.”

1st May – Marc Vivien Foe and Christian Benitez

Today is the birthday of two players that tragically died during their playing days and will be forever remembered.

Marc Vivien Foe was only 28 and Christian Benitez was only 27. Foe suddenly collapsed in the 72nd minute of a match for Cameroon against Brazil and Benitez died shortly after complaining about strong pains in his abdomen.

Foe started his career in 1991 for one of the biggest clubs in Cameroon, Canon Yaounde and stayed there for three years before signing for French club Lens. He made his debut in a 2-1 victory over Montpellier and won the French League title with the club in 1998. A season later he was linked with Manchester United and they bid £3 million for him but this was rejected by Lens.
Foe Cameroon
He did eventually come to the Premier League when he signed for West Ham for £4.2 million and played 38 league matches for the club scoring one goal against Sheffield Wednesday but at the end of the year he joined Lyon for £6 million. He missed most of his first season at the club after contracting malaria but when he recovered he helped his team win the French League Cup and for the second time in his career Ligue 1.

In 2002 he returned to the Premier League with Manchester City and after an amazing season in which he scored 9 goals in 35 league games he also has the honour of scoring the club’s final goal at Maine Road. Unfortunately he would not play club football again as he sadly passed way at the 2003 Confederations Cup.

Fifa President Sepp Blatter said: “Fifa and the whole family of football are shattered by this unbelievable tragedy. Football has lost a remarkable player and remarkable man.”
Foe Man City
Christian Benitez was the son of former Ecuadorian international Ermen Benitez and followed in his father’s footsteps by playing for the national side on 58 occasions scoring 24 goals. ‘Chucho’ started his career at El Nacional and had an impressive goalscoring record for them scoring 29 goals in 83 matches.
Benitez Ecuador
In July 2007 he transferred to Mexico to play for Santos Laguna and in his four years at the club he scored 51 times in 95 games which made a lot of European clubs take notice of him. Birmingham City decided to take a chance on him and signed him on loan after a long transfer saga for the 2009-10 season. He made his debut as a substitute on the opening day of the season against Manchester United and could have scored if it wasn’t for a wonderful one handed save by Ben Foster. He scored his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw away to Liverpool and scored two classy goals against Everton but this was as good as it got for him and after only four goals for the club Birmingham chose not to sign him permanently.
Benitez Birmingham
He then returned to Santos Laguna and finished as their top scorer in his first season back. Although he had signed a new three year deal he transferred to Club America for $10 million dollars on the 22nd May 2011 and went on to play 79 times for the club scoring 52 goals.

His final transfer was to El Jaish Sports Club where he only played one game before sadly dying a day later. The final word can go to former teammate Lee Carsley. “It’s devastating news. I remember he had outstanding ability, was very quick and was a bit of a free spirit. He was a popular player in the dressing room, he got a grasp of the Birmingham accent quickly. It is sad to lose anyone like this.”