Nigel Martyn was one of the most underrated goalkeepers in Premier League history and was the first £1 million goalkeeper in British football.
Although he made his England debut in 1992 he only went on to play 23 times for his country and this was very unfortunate as if he had came along a few years later he would have definitely been an automatic first choice. Martyn was a fantastic keeper, pulling off some fantastic saves and was always a fan favourite at his various clubs.
The beginning of his career is somewhat unbelievable as Ian Holloway said in his autobiography that the goalkeeper was spotted by Bristol Rovers tea lady while on holiday and invited Martyn to the club for a trial. He obviously impressed the coaching staff as he was given a professional contract in 1987. Over the next two seasons he became first choice and played over 100 league games for the club before moving onto Crystal Palace in 1989 for £1 million.
Once again Martyn was first choice for a long time and proved his ability by helping the team reach the FA Cup final in 1990 and although they lost against Manchester United after a replay, it was a fantastic effort and the goalkeeper received a lot of praise for his performances. He remained at Palace for seven years and made 349 appearances for the club before once again setting a record fee for a goalkeeper.
In the summer of 1996 Leeds United signed him for £2.25 million. While at Leeds he never let the club down and his performances were outstanding both in domestic competitions and also on the European stage. His display against Roma at the Olympic Stadium will be remembered for a long time by the Leeds fans as it helped them progress to the UEFA Cup semi finals in the 1999/00 season. Again in Europe Martyn was in inspirational form as he was part of the squad that defeated Barcelona, Lazio and Deportivo as they reached the semi finals of the Champions League under David O’Leary.
Martyn was first choice at Leeds for six seasons and he was named officially as Leeds United’s greatest ever goalkeeper which was a huge honour as the club have had some other magnificent keepers in the past such as Gary Sprake and John Lukic. His time at the club came to an end after the 2002-03 season with Paul Robinson being the number one for that year and him failing to play a league game.
Everton signed the goalkeeper on a free transfer and after an injury to their first choice Richard Wright, he took over from him and his consistent performances meant that he kept his place in the team.
Despite coming towards the end of his career he arguably had his best year in the 2003-04 season as he helped Everton finish fourth in the table with many fans believing that he kept them in that lofty position almost singlehandedly. In his final season in the professional game he was picking up more injuries and on his final and 100th appearance for Everton he produced one more fantastic display in an FA Cup fifth round tie against Chelsea. He was then later described by manager David Moyes as his ‘greatest ever signing’.
The final word can go to David Moyes. “You are always planning for who is the next Nigel Martyn. When Nigel was leaving, he was reliable, consistent and a great man to work with. To try and find a goalkeeper like that who you can trust was not easy.”