3rd September – Scott Carson

Whenever England play at Wembley it must bring back bad memories for goalkeeper Scott Carson as his chances of being England’s number one was ruined in one night.

The game against Croatia will be remembered for England not qualifying for Euro 2008. Carson was at fault for at least one of the goals, however this has not had an effect on his club career as he has always been a very consistent goalkeeper. Now at the age of 29 he will be hoping that he can be a Premier League keeper once again.
Carson WA
Carson started his career at Leeds United and progressed quickly through their youth ranks and the reserves, making his first team debut in January 2004 after Paul Robinson was sent off against Middlesbrough and he had to come on. Two weeks later he made his full debut against Manchester United and helped them get a 1-1 draw. The goalkeeper played once more against Chelsea.

Despite being offered a new contract at Leeds he decided he wanted to leave the club and Liverpool signed him in January 2005. He signed for the club in the right season as it meant that he picked up a Champions League winners medal even though he only played in one game, the quarter final victory over Juventus.

After only playing nine times for the club in a season and a half he was loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday in March 2006. Carson played a key role in helping Wednesday avoid relegation from the Championship as he kept five clean sheets in his nine appearances. At the end of the season he returned to Liverpool and signed a new contract with the club but was loaned out for the entire 2006-07 season to Charlton Athletic.

On a personal level he had a very good season there as he played in 36 league games (only missing the games against Liverpool) and being voted the Supporters’ Club Player of the Year. However, he could not prevent them from being relegated. Once again he was told he would not be first choice at Liverpool and was loaned out to Aston Villa and only missed three league games in the next season. During the 2007-08 season he managed 11 clean sheets but did also receive the first red card of his career.

After years of being loaned out, Carson left the club permanently in 2008 when he joined West Brom. He had some ups and downs during his time there with him suffering another relegation to the Championship but did help them gain promotion with 15 clean sheets in 43 games. He briefly lost his place during the 2010-11 season but after Roy Hodgson became their new manager he was quickly reinstated as the number one.
Carson WB
On the 1st July 2011 Carson left West Brom and joined Turkish side Bursapsor for £2 million and was very impressive in his first season, helping them to 8th place and only conceding 35 goals and in his second and final campaign at the club he helped them qualify for the Europa League by finishing in fourth place.
Carson Bursaspor
Wigan Athletic brought him back to England to help them return to the Premier League and in his first year he played 18 times.

The final word can go to Martin O’Neill. “Carson has been doing very well for us. We are very pleased with him. He has shown a bit of strength of character, and that is always encouraging. He is a very strong person and he is staying very focused.”

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3rd May – Steve McClaren

Not many England managers have took on jobs abroad but this particular one has had a lot of success and is now in with a good chance of gaining promotion to the Premier League.

Steve McClaren is 53 today and is currently in charge of Derby County where he has led them to a third place finish and will compete in the playoffs for a place in the top flight. It has been a long journey since the last time he managed in the Premier League which has seen him be the national team manager, manage in Holland and Germany and then have a spell at local rivals Nottingham Forest.

He spent most of his playing career in the lower leagues playing for Hull City, Derby County, Lincoln City, Bristol City and Oxford United until an injury in 1992 forced him to retire. He became a coach at Oxford until 1995 when he joined Jim Smith at Derby to help them gain promotion in their first season and helped them consolidate their position. He was gaining a very good reputation and in 1999 he moved to Manchester United and in his first half a season he helped the club win the treble. The success continued as every year he spent at the club they won the league title but at the end of the 2000-01 season he was actively looking for a managerial position and he had three clubs chasing him. Ultimately he decided to join Middlesbrough.

Every season there was slight improvement and in 2004 he led the team to victory in the League Cup final against Bolton Wanderers, meaning he was the first Middlesbrough manager to win a major honour and take them into Europe. Middlesbrough’s games in Europe against Steaua Bucharest and FC Basel will live long in the memory as the club recovered from positions that never seemed possible and meant they got to the final of the UEFA Cup. Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson said of his manager: “What he has achieved in his time here is highly impressive, and yet I don’t feel he has had anything like the praise his achievements deserve.”
Mcclaren England
However he was being recognised by some and on the 4th May 2006 McClaren became England manager. Taking over from Sven Goran Eriksson who said: “I have worked closely with Steve ever since I came to England and know how good of a coach he is. He is well liked and well respected by all the players and staff.” Unfortunately he only lasted 18 games and failed to qualify for Euro 2008 but he did win nine of his games in charge.

In June 2008 he returned to football and took over Dutch club FC Twente. In his first season at the club they finished in second place and many predicted they would struggle the next season after losing key players but this did not happen as they were crowned champions in 2010 for the first time in their history. Twente won 16 of their 17 home matches and had to withstand some serious pressure from Ajax who won their last 14 games which shows how impressive McClaren had to be.
Mcclaren Twente
Even after this achievement he decided to move on and join German side Wolfsburg. However he did not do as well as he hoped and was only in charge for 24 games and was sacked in February 2011. McClaren then decided to return to England but success did not return as he only won three games out of 13 with Nottingham Forest and resigned.

He then returned to Twente but once again he could not rediscover the golden touch and after a disappointing 6th place finish and tough time in the next season he resigned from his post. After a brief spell as coach at QPR he joined Derby County and in his 37 games in charge so far he was won 22 games and it is hard to argue against them winning the playoffs and he will be quietly confident that he will be a Premier League manager once again next season.
Mcclaren Derby
The final word can go to Jim Smith who made him his assistant at Derby. “He’s a very talented coach and very good at man management. He’s up there with the best in coaching terms.”

5th April – Thomas Hitzlsperger

Earlier this year Thomas Hitzlsperger came out as gay and is the most high profile player to do so and today he turns 32.

Firstly it should not really matter what the sexuality of a footballer is but it did create a lot of news headlines and it is something that cannot be avoided and it is easy to see why the player decided to wait till he retired till he made the announcement.

It is quite sad that he may now be more known because of this rather than his very good football career which saw him win the Bundesliga, be part of the Germany squad to come runner up at Euro 2008 and third at the 2006 World Cup.

He started his career at Bayern Munich but unfortunately could not break into their squad and left for his first spell in England. It took him a short while to settle in England and a loan spell at Chesterfield was just what he needed to get used to physical side of the game. When he came back to Villa, manager Graham Taylor gave him a chance in the first team and he impressed the fans and became one of their favourites, earning him the nickname Der Hammer because of his long range shooting and the fact that nearly all of his goals were very powerful strikes.
Hitz Villa
After falling out of favour he joined Stuttgart and in his second season at the club he won the Bundesliga playing in 30 of their 34 league games and scoring seven times. He was then given the captain’s armband however this did not last as new manager Markus Babbel decided to take the team in a different direction and therefore Hitzlsperger had to leave the club to get more first team opportunities.
Hitz Stuttgart
He only spent six months at his next club Lazio but scored once against Udinese in a 3-1 win. After this he came back to England and joined West Ham but injuries were catching up with the midfielder and he spent a lot of time on the sidelines but whenever he did play he produced some good performances, however they were not good enough to keep the team in the Premier League.

His career came to an end pretty soon after with short spells at Wolfsburg and Everton not leading to contract renewals and he decided to retire after, in his own words, “many transfers and some injuries”.
Hitz Everton
It would be easy to give the last word to the many people that commented on his decision to come out as gay because they were all very supportive however this has mostly focused on his career so the last word can go to his former Wolfsburg manager and the current Fulham manager Felix Magath after signing the German. “I am pleased he is now with us because he is a player that can lead the team and a player who will help us with his professional approach and international experience.”