1st March – Djimi Traore

When you think of Champions League winners, Djimi Traore is definitely not the first player that comes to mind even to Liverpool fans but he played an important role in the 2005 final.

The 2005 final will always be remembered for Liverpool coming back from 3-0 down at half time to win the trophy but what is often forgotten is that in the second half the Liverpool defence, including Traore put in some crucial blocks and tackles that stopped counter attacks and certain goals for AC Milan. The left back is now 35 and nobody can take away his Champions League winners medal but he did have some disastrous moments during his career.

Traore started his career at his hometown club Laval and after looking like a good prospect he made the move to Liverpool in 1999. The left back struggled to get into the first team and went out on loan in the 2001-02 season to Lens, making 20 appearances for the French club. On his return he started getting more chances but it looked like he was leaving during the 2003-04 season as he was very close to joining Everton. However, the move didn’t go through and when Rafael Benitez got the Liverpool job he got a new lease of life and improved defensively and offensively under the Spaniard.

UEFA Champions League: Anderlecht v Liverpool

The 2004-05 season was very mixed for Traore as he won the Champions League but he also scored one of the funniest own goals in a 1-0 defeat to Burnley in the FA Cup. He attempted a turn and a drag back inside his own six yard box but just ended getting himself mixed up and put the ball in the back of his own net. In the following season he struggled for game time as he was behind John Arne Riise in the pecking order and on the 8th August 2006 he joined Charlton Athletic for £2 million.

He got off to a terrible start after being sent off on his debut and a few months later against his former club he gave away a penalty after fouling Jermaine Pennant. After only half a season he was deemed not good enough and was allowed to join Portsmouth. He only featured 13 times at Portsmouth over the next season and a half before first going out on loan to Rennes and then Birmingham City.

Traore Monaco

On the 18th June 2009 his contract expired at Portsmouth and he joined Monaco where he put in some decent performances but once again after just two seasons he was on the move again, joining Marseille. In his only season he played 20 games and helped the club win the Coupe de la Ligue but he left at the end of the season and after a trial at Seattle Sounders he signed for the American side on the 23rd Feburary 2013. He played 28 times for the club but while he was there he scored an amazing 40 yard volley against Mexican side Tigres.

Traore SS

The final word can go to Seattle Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson. “Djimi has a great deal of experience and has played in the top leagues in Europe. He’s a very good defender and makes smart decisions with the ball coming out the back. Djimi brings us confidence and leadership.”

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17th February – Marvin Sordell

If Burnley want to stay in the Premier League they really need someone else other than Danny Ings to step up and score some goals, Marvin Sordell could well be that man.

He hasn’t been given that many opportunities this season with the form of Ings and also Ashley Barnes putting in a good shift for the team but the striker has proved in the past that he can find the back of the net. Confidence could be playing a big part and if the 24 year old can get his first goal for the club then he may just go on a run and be the difference between them getting relegated and staying in the top flight.

Sordell started his career at Watford but got his first taste of professional football on loan at Isthmian League club Wealdstone, hitting the back of the net twice in five games. In the following season he made his debut for his parent club after coming on as a substitute against Sheffield United on the 15th August and 10 days later he scored his first goal for the club in the League Cup defeat to Leeds United. However, after few chances in the team he was loaned out again, this time to Tranmere Rovers where he played eight times, scoring once. Before the end of the season he would score his first league goal for Watford in a 4-0 win over Coventry City.

Sordell WFC

At the start of the 2010-11 season he started eight of the first nine games and scored five times. He ended the season with 15 goals despite having to battle with Danny Graham and Troy Deeney for a starting spot. The goals kept coming for Sordell and he was linked with moves to the Premier League after getting to double figures again. On the 31st January he joined Bolton Wanderers and made his debut on the 4th February as a substitute. Unfortunately he didn’t get much game time and only made a further two substitute appearances before the end of the season.

Soccer - FA Cup - Fourth Round - Bolton Wanderers v Everton - Reebok Stadium

With Bolton now in the Championship he was expected to lead their attack and scored his first goal for the club on the 24th August 2012 in a 2-2 draw against Nottingham Forest. But he failed to establish himself in the first team and despite goals in the FA Cup he didn’t get much chance in the league. At the start of the 2012-13 season he joined Charlton Athletic on a season long loan and would score eight time while at the club, including a hatrick against Sheffield Wednesday.

Sordell CA

Sean Dyche has always liked Sordell and signed him for newly promoted Premier League side Burnley but he so far hasn’t managed to score his first Premier League goal. He hasn’t been given that many minutes on the pitch to show the fans he deserves a place in the side but did manage to grab a goal in the FA Cup defeat against Tottenham Hotspur.

The final word can go to Chris Powell. “Marvin’s goalscoring record is good. He can score all types of goals with both feet and he’s a lad who has got pace, and has got a real eye for goal. He’s definitely one who will sniff chances out and come alive in the box.”

3rd February – Marcus Tudgay

Marcus Tudgay should go down as a legend at Sheffield Wednesday because there aren’t many players in the last 10 years that have featured in 200 plus games and scored over 50 goals for the club.

Now 32, his career has never hit the heights that he achieved at Hillsborough but he is still a threat and it is very surprising to not see him get more chances at Coventry City. One thing that has been noted about his career is his professionalism and even though he isn’t getting a lot of chances to show his quality, he will certainly be helping the younger players.

Tudgay DC

The striker started his career at Derby County and made his debut in August 2002 and over the next few years became a regular member of his squad, with the 2004-05 season being his best, scoring 10 goals in all competitions. His final goal for the club came in November 2005 against future club Sheffield Wednesday.

He initially joined the club on loan but after just one appearance, in which he scored in a 3-0 win over Crewe Alexandra, Paul Sturrock decided to make it a permanent transfer in January 2006. He helped the club avoid relegation from the Championship with some impressive performances, including a goal in the 2-0 win over Derby on the final day of the season.

Tudgay SW

Due to a bizarre injury during preseason he missed the start of the 2006-07 campaign but when he returned he quickly formed a very good partnership with Deon Burton, scoring six times in his first five games. Unfortunately due to other injuries in the squad he was moved out to the right wing and couldn’t keep up his goalscoring form. However, he did still end with 11 goals. The 2007-08 season followed a similar pattern as he was played in many different positions but he became a Wednesday legend during the season by scoring a fantastic volley against Sheffield United in the Steel City Derby.

2008-09 couldn’t have got off to a better start as he scored in the first 30 seconds of the opening game against Burnley and added another later in the game. After playing in nearly every position and finishing with 14 goals he was voted the PFA Fans Player of the Year and also picked up the Sheffield Wednesday Player of the Year trophy. This led to him being linked with moves away from the club but after rejecting bids from Burnley, he signed a new contract with the club. The following season ended in relegation for Wednesday but Tudgay initially stayed with the team to help them gain promotion until he went on loan to Nottingham Forest on the 25th November 2011.

Tudgay NF

Tudgay then quickly became a fan favourite at the City Ground as he scored on his debut in a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace and then followed this up with two in a fantastic 5-2 win over local rivals and former club Derby. He then joined the club permanently in January but unfortunately he fell out of favour and made loan moves away from the club to Barnsley and Charlton Athletic before leaving the club and joining Coventry City on the 29th July 2014.

The final word can go to Brian Laws. “Marcus epitomises what I want from all of my players in that he is a committed and dedicated professional who never gives anything less than his all on matchdays or on the training pitch. He’s a top quality who can play in a number of positions.”

8th November – Morgan Schneiderlin

Southampton have been fantastic this season and have certainly been one of the surprise packages of the season, especially as they were considered relegation favourites by many after losing so many important players in the summer but hanging on to Morgan Schneiderlin has arguably been their best bit of business.

The midfielder has played a crucial role in getting the club back to where they belong and has now even pushed them on to the next level which has meant that he has been linked with moves away. It looked as though he was going to leave during the summer but nobody can doubt his commitment to the club every time he steps onto the pitch. With the club in second place they will have realistic ambitions of qualifying for Europe and that will definitely convince the Frenchman to stay at the club.
Schneiderlin Saints
The 25 year old started his career at Strasbourg and would sign his first contract with the club in 2005 and go on to make his debut in the B-team later in the year. After 37 league games and five goals for the second string he was promoted to the first team but after just five appearances over two seasons he would be sold after the club were relegated from Ligue 1 at the end of the 2007-08 season.
Schneiderlin Strasbourg
On the 27th June 2008 Schneiderlin signed for Southampton and made his debut on the 9th August 2008 in a 2-1 defeat against Cardiff City. His first season ended badly as the club were relegated from the Championship but the Frenchman decided to stay with the club and help them gain promotion from League One. He would go on to score his first goal for the club in a 5-1 win over Bristol Rovers on the 13th April 2010 in a 5-1 win. Despite only playing 27 league games during the 2010-11 season he proved what a good player he was as the team clinched promotion back to the Championship.

During the summer he was rewarded with a new contract and Southampton gained back to back promotions and returned to the Premier League with Schneiderlin scoring goals against Burnley and Nottingham Forest. After promotion to the top flight like a lot of players, he kept his spot in the side and was in fantastic form in the early part of the season, scoring against Manchester United and Swansea City. He would then go on to captain the side on the 16th January 2013 in a thrilling comeback against Chelsea and then would soon after score his third Premier League goal against Wigan Athletic to rescue his side a point.
Schneiderlin Soton
Once again he was rewarded with a new contract and was quickly becoming known as one of the best holding midfielders in the country. At the end of the season he was credited with the most tackles, interceptions and the highest work rate in the league and was named the Players’ Player and Fans’ Player of the Year awards at Southampton. Last season he was equally impressive but this year he has gone on to another level and has already scored three goals, two against West Ham and another superb effort against Newcastle United.

The final word can go to Southampton manager Ronald Koeman. “Him staying has been the best part of the window for us. He’s a fantastic player and an important player for the team. That gives the rest of the lads confidence and ambition. His behaviour has been professional and the one answer he gave was on the pitch, and that’s always the best answer that you can give.”

6th November – Andre Schurrle

Andre Schurrle might be a World Cup winner with Germany and have a lot of ability but it seems like he has yet to convince Jose Mourinho that he deserves to be in his starting eleven despite scoring some important goals for the club.

The winger isn’t always fully switched on when it comes to defending and this is largely why Mourinho might not see his future at Chelsea. However, there is no doubting that going forward there are few wingers who can get into as many goalscoring positions, he times his runs from the wing into the middle of the box very well and has got a lot of goals from this.

Schurrle is still only 24 so he still has a lot of time to learn different parts of the game and will keep on improving over the next few years. The German international started his career at Mainz, making his Bundesliga debut on the opening day of the 2009-10 season against Bayer Leverkusen in a 2-2 draw. He had to wait a month to score his first goals in 3-2 win over Bochum. He had a decent first season and in September 2010 the club agreed a fee with Leverkusen and he would join the club at the start of the next season. This obviously gave Shurrle a lot of confidence and he would score 15 goals in 33 games.
Schurrle Mainz
After joining Leverkusen he scored on his debut in the German Cup against Dynamo Dresden but had to wait until the 15th October 2011 to score his first Bundesliga club, rescuing a point with a late goal in a 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach. A few days later he would score his first Champions League goal in a win over Valencia. He ended his first season with nine goals in all competitions and was putting in some great performances. Yet again he would have an even better second season and was a vital part of Leverkusen’s first away win against Bayern Munich since October 1989, setting up a goal for Stefan Kiebling. He finished his second at the club with 14 goals and nine assists.
Schurrle BL
On the 25th June 2013 Schurrle joined Chelsea and made his debut as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Hull City in the Premier League. His first goal would come in a 2-1 win over title rivals Manchester City and he would also go on to score twice against Stoke City a few weeks later. But his best moment of the season came when he scored a hatrick against Fulham in a 3-1 win and then later in the month was named the Man of the Match after the 6-0 win over Arsenal where he was a constant threat, setting up the first goal and scoring the second.
Schurrle Chelsea
This season he scored a fantastic goal on the opening day of the season against Burnley and scored once again against Manchester City to help his side get a point away to the defending champions. But it has been struggle for him to remain a first choice player this season as Mourinho has preferred other options.

The final word can go to Jose Mourinho. “Andre Schurrle is still so young but he already has great history because he plays in his national team. So he is a player who is absolutely ready and he gives us more than one position in attack and adds quality. He will be important for us.”

4th November – Enner Valencia

West Ham have made a fantastic start to the season and have been one of the surprise packages with birthday boy Enner Valencia playing a key part in their new attacking style.

It is an unwritten rule not to sign a player after a World Cup as they can sometimes be hit and miss but Sam Allardyce took a chance on the Ecuadorian and it has certainly worked out for him. The striker from Ecuador has 11 goals in 17 international appearances and that is a very good record and with three goals at the World Cup it was a surprise to see him not being linked with more clubs.

The 25 year old started his career in Ecuador with Emelec in 2008 but he had to wait until 2010 and the arrival of Argentinean coach Jorge Sampaoli to get a chance in the first team. He would go on to score his first professional goal in a crucial game against LDU Quito on the 10th March to gain an important win against their title rivals. In the following season he became more of a regular starter and rewarded his managers confidence by scoring nine goals and helping his side finish second in the table. For a third season in a row Emelec would finish runners up in 2012 but Valencia was getting better and scoring more goals, this time grabbing 13 goals.
Valencia Emelec
Finally in 2013 Emelec would win the title but surprisingly the striker didn’t have his goalscoring boots on and in terms of goals had a poor season. However, he did manage to hit his first career hatrick on the 7th August 2013 in the Copa Sudamericana. This proved to be his last season at the club as he joined Mexican side Pachuca in 2014 and would score his first goal for the club in a 2-1 win over Tijuana on the 18th January. The following week he scored twice against defending champions Club Leon and would end the season as the top scorer in Liga MX with 12 goals. In the playoffs he would also score a hatrick in a 4-2 win over UNAM.
Valencia Pachuca
After a total of 18 goals in 23 league games and an impressive World Cup, West Ham signed the striker on the 29th July 2014. His time at West Ham did not start well as he came on as a substitute in the defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the season and then had a penalty saved in the League Cup tie against Sheffield United. But on his full league debut he put in an impressive performance away to Hull City, where he also scored his first goal for the club with a strike from 25 yards that reached 61 miles per hour. He has scored two more goals for West Ham, in a 3-1 win over Burnley and in the 2-2 draw with Stoke City.
Valencia WH
The final word can go to teammate Stewart Downing who has benefited from playing alongside Valencia. “From what I’ve seen, he looks a very good player. He can nick a goal and it’s what we’ve needed as we didn’t have that last season. It will help the manager that he has options and he can bring people in who can perform straight away.”

31st October – Denis Irwin

Denis Irwin may not spring to mind when thinking of Manchester United greats but there is no denying that he is one of the club’s most dependable and consistent full backs ever.

The 49 year old had a very good career and has been called Alex Ferguson’s pound for pound greatest ever signing which is a huge honour and just shows how important he was to the side during the 1990s. Irwin also got the honour of being named in the first Premier League Overall Team of the Decade and represented his country, Republic of Ireland, 56 times and was part of the World Cup 1994 squad.

Irwin started his career at Leeds United in 1983 and went on to make 72 appearances in the Second Division for the club, including 41 games in the 1984-85 season. But in 1986 he moved to Oldham Athletic on a free transfer and barely missed a league match over the next four seasons, featuring in 167 games and scoring four goals.

In his final season at the club he helped the club reach the semi final of the FA Cup and the final of the League Cup before moving to Manchester United in 1990 for a fee of £625,000. He would spend the next 12 years at Old Trafford and would win seven Premier League title along the way, which is an incredible achievement. He can also add three FA Cup, a League Cup, a Cup Winners’ Cup and a Champions League winners medal to his collection before he left the club.
Sport.Football. pic: 24th February 1990. Denis Irwin, Oldham Athletic defender, who won 56 Republic of Ireland international caps 1991-2000, while playing at Manchester United.
During his time at the club he also became a reliable goalscorer from the penalty spot and also was a real asset from free kicks, delivering great balls into the box. He would score 22 goals in the league all together for the club with his first coming on the 7th September 1991 in a 3-0 home win over Norwich City. Irwin’s best goalscoring season came in the 1992-93 season, as the team went on to lift the first ever Premier League trophy, hitting the back of the net five times.

He continued to be Manchester United’s first choice until his mid thirties and was rewarded with a testimonial against Manchester City on the 16th August 2000 but this was the beginning of the end of his time at the club as he was no longer an automatic first choice. Irwin made his last appearance for the club in a 0-0 draw against Charlton Athletic on the 12th May 2002 and was given the captain’s armband by Alex Ferguson on his 529th appearance for the club.
Irwin MU
After the 2001-02 season the Irishman joined Wolves and was a crucial part of their promotion to the Premier League, playing in 43 of the 46 league games and scoring goals against Burnley and Grimsby. Wolves then struggled in the top flight but on Irwin’s return to Old Trafford he received a warm reception but this was a personal high point in a poor season as the club were relegated. Irwin announced his retirement from the game at the end of the season.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur
The final word can go to the former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson. “We called him the quiet assassin. He was a left back and he was taking penalties in a team full of Man United players. He’d take all of the free kicks – it just shows what a class player he was. He was tough and quick.”