31st May – Paddy McCarthy

Crystal Palace had a fantastic season but unfortunately for club captain Paddy McCarthy he missed most of the campaign and will be hoping to make a big impact next season.

Injuries have really ruined his time at Palace but he has always been one of the most consistent performers in the Championship and the way he conducts himself has always been exemplary and it is no wonder he is an influential member of the squad even when he is not playing. Frustratingly though shoulder injuries have really slowed his career and he may have gone further and got international caps for Republic of Ireland.

McCarthy started his career at Manchester City but could not break into their first team and had to get some playing time by going on loan to Boston United where he played 12 league games and performed well enough for them to try and sign him permanently. This move didn’t go through and before he left Manchester City, he had another loan spell away from the club, this time to Notts County.
Mccarthy Leicester
In March 2005, Leicester City paid £100,000 for his services and he signed a three year contract with the club. He quickly became a fan favourite because of his no nonsense style and after just one season at the club he was named as their captain for the 2006-07. After more impressive performances, his season was ended because he dislocated his shoulder in February 2007. Despite being offered an extended contract he decided he wanted to leave the club before the start of the new season.

Charlton Athletic signed the central defender for £650,000 in July 2007 meaning that Leicester got some good service from him and also a profit which is always a sign of a good signing. But they won’t have been happy with him when he scored his first goal for his new club against his former employers. Manager Alan Pardew said after the goal. “It was a good time for Paddy to score his first league goal for us. But football has these strange quirks. To be fair he has probably been our best player. He defended well and then topped it off with a goal.”
McCarthy Charlton
This would be his only season at the club as he moved across South London to Crystal Palace in a deal that saw Mark Hudson move in the other direction and Neil Warnock was happy with this deal. “I’ve chased Paddy for about five years and I’m delighted to get him.” In his first two seasons at the club he struggled with more shoulder problems and did not play as much as he would have liked. However, he was still showing that he was a reliable defender for any Championship team and proved that he could be a threat at the other end by scoring three goals in his first season.
McCarthy Palace
Despite his injuries he was named club captain before the 2010-11 season and this was the start of two fantastic seasons where he played almost every game and in the 2011-12 season he played 50 times in all competitions, however he has not played much at all since then.

The final word can go to former Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway. “He is a wonderful leader and wonderful servant and ambassador for this club. I can honestly say I have never seen anyone work as hard as him to get himself back.”

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27th May – Paul Gascoigne

Paul Gascoigne is one of the greatest players England have ever produced and in terms of natural talent not many have even come close.

He provided so many good memories for football fans in the 90s ranging from his impressive World Cup showing at Italia 90 to that goal against Scotland at Euro 96. Although he has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons since his retirement it should not be this that he is remembered for as he was a wonderful player.

Gazza started his career at Newcastle United and was a special talent from an early age as he captained the youth team as they won the Youth Cup in 1985 with him scoring twice in the final. He was soon quickly promoted to the first team and Jack Charlton gave him his debut on the 13th April 1985 against QPR. But it was Willie McFaul that gave him his first start on the opening day of the new season. He scored his first goal a few weeks later against Oxford United and impressed for the entire season, scoring another eight goals.
Soccer - Today League Division One - Newcastle United Photocall
Newcastle struggled in the next season but Gazza still managed to score five times in 24 league games and was vital in helping the club avoid relegation. The season after though was his best personally, as he was named the PFA Young Player of the Year and was in the PFA Team of the Year and in the summer he moved to Tottenham Hotspur for a British record of £2.2 million.

In his first season he scored seven times in 37 league games and helped the club reach sixth place. They then rose to the third place the season after and he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1990 and also Tottenham’s Player of the Year. In the 1990-91 season he played a key part in helping the club win the FA Cup as he scored six times in the competition, including one against Arsenal in the semi final. However, an injury in the final meant that he would miss the entire 1991-92 season.
Gazza Spurs
Lazio had already agreed a deal to sign the midfielder and they eventually got their man for £5.5 million. He was loved by the Lazio fans because he scored an 89th minute equaliser against fierce rivals Roma but he did have a tough time in Italy and did not settle well. Despite this he helped them qualify for Europe for the first time in 16 years. Over the next two seasons he struggled with injuries and in July 1995 he joined Rangers for £4.3 million.

And he once again became a club legend by scoring in the Old Firm Derby, it was an extraordinary goal as he ran almost the full length of the pitch before scoring. Rangers won the league that season and he scored a hatrick against Aberdeen to clinch the title. They also went on to win the Scottish Cup and Gascoigne finished the season with 19 goals.
Gazza Rangers
Rangers won the title again in the 1996-97 season and Gascoigne scored hatricks against Kilmarnock and Motherwell and finished the year with an impressive 17 goals in 34 appearances. He also scored twice in the League Cup final victory over Hearts. His last season at the club was less successful as Rangers lost their title and didn’t win their single trophy which led to the player moving back to England, this time joining Middlesbrough for £3.45 million.

It started well for him as he helped them get promotion back to the Premier League and was then even more impressive in helping them finish sixth in their first season back but unfortunately his form did not last and he eventually left the club and joined Everton.

He started well but only played 32 league games for the club, scoring one goal which turned out to be his last in England away to Bolton Wanderers. He left the club in March 2002 and ended the season at Burnley where he made six appearances but they narrowly missed out on the playoffs and he left after just two months. Gascoigne then had a short spell in China playing for Gansu Tianma and started off well by scoring twice in his first four games but troubles off the pitch meant he had to leave. His last club was League Two Boston United but after only playing five times in three months he decided to retire.

The final word can go to Sir Alex Ferguson who has admitted he wished he signed the player. “He was a fantastic footballer. He was the best player England produced since the days of Bobby Charlton. He was the best player of his era, a breath of fresh air because he played with a smile.”