26th March – Simon Kjaer

Simon Kjaer has been one of the more consistent centre backs around Europe in recent years but it seems like every time he is close to a really big move his form plummets and mistakes creep into his game.

The centre back is still only 26 but has a lot of experience and has played in some big games for both club and country so his career will more than likely get better. Over the years he has been linked with transfers to Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea to name a few and it is felt that he would be good in the Premier League and the English top flight definitely needs more top quality defenders.

Kjaer started his career at Danish club Midtjylland and even at a young age he was linked with big moves and even had a trial with Real Madrid in August 2007 but unfortunately a deal could not be agreed. Instead he signed a new five year deal with his first club and made his debut in a 2-0 win over AGF on the 30th September 2007. He would play 21 times for the club before making the move to Italian side Palermo in July 2008.

Kjaer Palermo

He would have to wait until October to make his debut as a half time substitute in a 3-1 defeat to Fiorentina. Despite the loss Kjaer played well and quickly established himself as an important member of the side and ended the season with 27 appearances and three goals. After a very successful first season he was named the 2009 Danish Talent of the Year and during the 2009-10 campaign he would go on to produce even better performances, ending with a very consistent World Cup which meant once again that many other clubs were looking at him and Palermo had to accept they were going to lose him in the summer.

On the 8th July 2010 he made the move to Wolfsburg but unfortunately Kjaer and the club got off to an indifferent start and were not achieving what they had expected to. After manager Steve McClaren was sacked, Felix Magath took over and it was much tougher for Kjaer to get a regular place in the team and was made a scapegoat by the new manager for the problems Wolfsburg were having.

Kjaer Wolfsburg

After making three appearances at the start of the 2011-12 season the centre back made the move to Roma on a season long loan. This was also not a good move for him as he struggled to show his quality and was even sent off against Lazio in a 2-1 defeat which led to the club not buying him permanently and he had to return to Wolfsburg. After burying the hatchet with Magath he would eventually get back into the team but he only lasted one more season.

His next move was to Lille in France and was very impressive in his first campaign helping the club to 21 clean sheets and was included in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season after they only conceded 26 goals in 38 league games. The defender has continued to put in good performances and has proven that when he is on form he can be a leader and one of the best in Europe.

Kjaer Lille

The final word can go to Palermo director Walter Sabatini. “I have heard that Juventus and their observers have been watching Kjaer. There is also an interest from Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. But he’ll stay, even he knows that. All is well, he wants to complete his development. Simon should be valued based on the qualities he has.”

4th March – Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan is known as America’s greatest ever soccer player and to everyone else he is known as a very talented footballer that maybe should have made the permanent move to England.

Despite only being 33 he has decided to retire as a player and many feel he could have offered more to the game on the pitch but he has done a lot already for the sport in terms of building the reputation of football in his homeland. It would have been good to have seen him get more chances abroad but it never quite happened for him when he was younger and he has accomplished everything he wanted to in America so it seems like a wise decision to retire.

Donovan first came to attention in 1999 when he was at the IMG Academy in America and after impressing in a youth tournament in Europe he was given a six year contract by German side Bayer Leverkusen. However he struggled to adapt in Germany largely because of his young age and spent a lot of time back home training with the USA under 17 team. In 2001 he did eventually move away and joined San Jose Earthquakes on loan and was an instant success, leading them to the MLS Championship in 2001 and 2003 and become one of the first recognisable football players in America. In his four years at the club, he scored 32 goals and provided 29 assists.

EARTHQUAKES DONOVAN CELEBRATES MLS TITLE WIN OVER CHICAGO FIRE.

In 2005 he returned to Leverkusen to give it another try but after just seven appearances he made it clear he wanted to return to America and he signed for LA Galaxy. His first season at the club was exceptional as he scored 12 goals and got another 10 assists as he helped his club win the MLS Cup but the following year was not as successful for the club but Donovan still performed very well.

It was difficult for Donovan in 2007 after David Beckham joined the club because he had to give up the captain’s armband and this seemed to annoy the American international. He was still producing good football but when Beckham joined AC Milan, Donovan gave an interview which was equally praised and criticised by the media as he slated Beckham. However, on Beckham’s return they patched up their differences and he went from strength to strength as a player and the two were very effective going forward.

2010 LA Galaxy Headshot

Donovan also spent time away from LA Galaxy during the off season like Beckham, firstly having an unsuccessful spell at Bayern Munich in 2008 but becoming somewhat of a cult hero at Everton after joining them in January 2010. Straight away he showed his talents in the Premier League by being named the club’s Player of the Month in January but after 13 games and two goals he returned to America. On his return he would go on to score his 100th goal for Galaxy and become their all time leading scorer.

He wasn’t to stay away from Everton for long as in December 2011 it was announced he would be signing for them on loan again. Once again he was equally successful and in his nine games this time he managed to set up seven goals and produce some excellent performances and the Everton fans and players were once again sad to see him leave.

Britain Soccer Premier League

On the 25th May 2014 he became the highest ever goal scorer in MLS history, hitting his 136th goal against Philadelphia Union but on the 7th August he announced he would be retiring from the game.

The final word can go to Everton teammate Phil Neville. “He’s a hero at Goodison Park, and he’s played less than 20 games for us. I’ve played with some world class right sided players in my time, and he’s up there with them. I’m telling the truth here when I say the last two times he’s been over he’s totally transformed our season.”

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.”

11th October – Seamus Coleman

Seamus Coleman has been one of the best full backs in the Premier League over the last few seasons but unfortunately like a lot of Everton players this year he has suffered from injuries and is one of many in their treatment room.

The 26 year old has always been good going forward but he has improved a lot defensively and although he adds a lot in attack, it is no surprise that when he is in the starting eleven Everton concede less goals and look more solid. David Moyes give him a chance but it has been Roberto Martinez that has developed his talent and now he is being linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

After initially starting out as a Gaelic Footballer, he made the move to professional football and signed for Sligo Rovers. He made his debut against Derry City in October 2006 after coming on as a substitute. He did not have an easy start as manager Rob McDonald did not rate him and thought he should move down a division but when he was sacked and replaced with Paul Cook, the new manager gave Coleman a lot of praise and the defender began to flourish.
Coleman SR
In total he made 60 appearances for the club, scoring once against Bray Wanderers in May 2008 before moving on to Everton in January 2009 for the very small fee of £60,000. Even though he had not kicked a ball for the club, his career could have been over but surgery saved it and he eventually made his debut in the Europa League against Benfica, unfortunately they went on to lose the game 5-0.

His Premier League debut was a much better experience, after coming on as a substitute he helped set up both goals in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur and was awarded the man of the match at the end of the game. Despite this he still struggled to get first team opportunities and went out on loan to Blackpool to help them in their promotion push in March 2010. In his 12 game spell, including the playoff final win over Cardiff City 3-2, he scored once in a 4-2 away win against Scunthorpe United. During his time out on loan he also signed a new four year deal with his parent club.
Coleman Blackpool
The following season he broke into the Everton side and was originally used as a right winger and scored his first Premier League goal against former club Blackpool. He finished the season with our goals but also received the first red card of his career in the final day in a 1-0 win over Chelsea. His performances meant that he was nominated for the 2011 PFA Young Player of the Year.
Coleman Everton
Coleman was a very solid player for a number of seasons but finally received all the attention that he deserves during the 2013-14 season. He scored six league goals, was named as Everton’s Player of the Year, their Players’ Player of the Year and also in the PFA Team of the Year. During the course of the season he set up 45 chances and helped them to a club record 72 Premier League points.

The final word can go to Roberto Martinez. “He just grows month by month. He is a good example of a footballer with an incredible attitude and appetite for the game. I haven’t done anything to coax that out of him. He knows his potential. He plays in a demanding position which needs you to be so good in many areas. He’s one of the best full-backs in world football.”

8th September – Gary Speed

Gary Speed would have been 45 today and is someone that the footballing world has missed because of how likeable he was and how much effort he put in every time he was on the pitch.

The midfielder was a fan favourite at every club he played for and his death shocked everyone as it was so unexpected and he had begun to change Wales’ fortune on the international stage and there were many people that believed he would be the man that took them to a major tournament. The 27th November will be a tough day for all his friends and family but today is one to celebrate his life and his career achievements.

Speed began his career at Leeds United and signed his first professional contract on the 13th June 1988 and was quickly recognised as a player with huge potential by the manager at the time Howard Wilkinson. He made his debut as a 19 year old in the Second Division against Oldham Athletic, this was his only appearance that season but in the following campaign he played 25 times and scored three goals, helping Leeds gain promotion.

He was quickly becoming the first name on the team sheet and played a key role in the 1991-92 season as Leeds won the First Division title. He played alongside Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty in the midfield and they are considered one of the greatest line-ups in the modern game. In the first two years of the newly formed Premier League, Speed hit double figures and was also named in the PFA Team of the Year at the end of the 1992-93 season.
Speed LU
He stayed at Leeds for eight seasons and because of his consistency and the fact he rarely picked up any injuries, he played 312 games before moving to Everton before the 1996-97 season for £3.5 million. He made his debut on the 17th August 1996 and scored against Newcastle United. He finished as the club’s joint top scorer with 11 goals, including a hatrick against Southampton in a 7-1 win. Despite being named the new club captain by Howard Kendall, their relationship turned sour and the midfielder was sold for £5.5 million to Newcastle on the 6th February 1998.
Speed NU
While at Newcastle, he helped them to two FA Cup finals in 1998 and 1999 but unfortunately they lost both. His performances at the club were exceptional and were a main reason why they rose up the table and started being considered as Premier League contenders and regulars in Europe. He stayed at Newcastle until July 2004 and many were surprised that the club were willing to let him go but after 285 appearances and 40 goals he joined Bolton Wanderers.

In December 2006 he became the first player in history to play 500 games in the Premier League after featuring in a 4-0 win over West Ham. He once again barely missed a game for the club and in his first three seasons he played 40 times or more and in the 2006-07 season he even managed to score eight Premier League goals.
Speed BW
Speed ended his playing career at Sheffield United but injuries stopped him being as influential for them as he had been for his previous clubs. So he ended his career having played 841 times and hitting the back of the net 136 times.

The final word can go to his former teammate and friend Craig Bellamy. “Gary Speed was a leader. He was the person I admired most. I looked up to him and I always took it as a great compliment he, in turn, looked out for me and valued me as a player. He was a mentor to me, someone whose advice I sought, someone I listened to. I was a little in awe of him. I adored him and looked up to him.”

21st August – Scott McDonald

Scott McDonald was a prolifc scorer in Scotland but since coming to England he has modified his game slightly and became a different threat to the opposition.

The Australian international has been involved in every Millwall game so far this season and despite not scoring he has played a big part in helping them to third in the Championship table after two wins and a draw in the early weeks of the season. Many expected Millwall to struggle but under Ian Holloway anything is possible as has been proven in the past and if he can get the 31 year old to start scoring regularly they will be in with a chance of reaching the playoffs.

McDonald started his career in Australia and became the youngest ever player to play in the National Soccer after he made his debut at the age of just 15. He soon made the move to Europe and signed for Southampton and stayed for two years and had loan spells at Huddersfield Town and Bournemouth in 2002. After being released by Southampton he signed for Wimbledon on a rolling contract, however after just two league games he moved to Motherwell in January 2004.

Despite some impressive performances he only managed one goal in his first half a season at the club but he followed this up with 15 goals in the next campaign, including two late goals against Celtic which denied them the title. Over the next few seasons he continued to be a regular goalscorer for Motherwell, hitting 11 in 35 and then 15 in 32 and also went down as the man that scored the 5000th goal in SPL history when he scored against Falkirk on the 25th November 2006.
McDonald Motherwell
After 45 goals in 108 appearances, Celtic signed the striker for £700,000 and he moved to the club at the start of the 2007-08 season. He made his debut in the third round Champions League qualifier against Spartak Moscow and scored his first goal in the return leg and a few days later he scored his first league goal against St Mirren. In his first season he scored 25 goals in 36 league appearances but his best moment was when he scored the winner against AC Milan in the final minute.

After changing his number at Celtic he got off to a slow start the next season but did manage to score in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United and he also scored the only goal in a 1-0 win in the Old Firm Derby against Rangers. On the 2nd May he scored his 49th and 50th Celtic goals against Aberdeen to cap off two extraordinary seasons.
McDonald Celtic
After an impressive start to the 2009-10 season he was being linked with moves to England and eventually on the 1st February 2010 he joined Middlesbrough and scored his first goal against Newcastle United and finished the campaign with four goals in 13 games. The next season started better but tailed off slightly but towards the end of the season he did manage to score a hatrick against Hull City in a 4-2 win. For the rest of his time at Boro he had a decent goal return but he seemed to spend a lot of time on the bench. His time at the club ended with 40 goals in 124 appearances which is not a bad return and was the reason why Millwall signed the player.
McDonald Boro
He had a tough first season at the club only getting three goals in 30 games but his performances so far this season suggest that he will play a big part in helping the team reach their objectives.

The final word can go to the manager that signed him at Millwall Steve Lomas. “I’ve watched Scott throughout his career and he has a proven track record, scoring at better than one in three games over a long period. He works hard for the team, links play well and can operate in different formations.”

24th June – Kevin Nolan

Kevin Nolan will go down as one of the best players to never get an England cap and will also fall into the very small category of things Newcastle United fans can thank Joe Kinnear for.

The midfielder has scored goals all through his career and has always provided a threat from the centre of the pitch with his late runs into the box and a lot of opposition fans, particularly Sunderland, are sick of seeing his ‘chicken’ celebration. It is very surprising that he never got picked for an England squad as he was always been an influential member of every squad he has been in.

Nolan signed his first professional contract at Bolton Wanderers and made his debut in the 1999-2000 season but it was in his second season when he really started to show the fans his quality as he played 31 times in the league and also played the full 90 minutes of their playoff final win over Preston North End which got them to the Premier League.
Nolan Bolton
He settled quickly into the Premier League and scored twice on the opening day against Leicester City and finished the season with eight goals, including one at Old Trafford in a 2-1 win. Proving this was not a fluke result in the next season Bolton beat Manchester United again at Old Trafford 1-0 with Nolan getting the goal. However, it was a much more difficult season as the club just stayed in the top flight and that goal was Nolan’s only one all season.

The 2003-04 season was much better for everyone as the club finished in eighth place and reached the final of the League Cup. Nolan finished the season with 12 goals and then in the following season helped the club qualify for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history. He scored twice in that European run against Lokomotiv Plovdiv and Zenit St Petersburg.

After Jay-Jay Okocha left the club Nolan took over the captaincy as they once again qualified for Europe. It was in Europe that the club had one of their finest moments in recent history – a 2-2 draw away to German side Bayern Munich with Nolan setting up one of the goals with a long throw. Despite their good run in Europe they started to struggle in the league and they barely stayed in the league once again.

In January 2009 Nolan left Bolton after 323 league appearances and joined Joe Kinnear’s Newcastle United. It was a tough start to his career on Tyneside as the club were relegated and he was sent off for a horror tackle on Everton’s Victor Anichebe. But he vowed to stay at the club and get them back where they belong and he definitely played his part. He scored his first goal against Crystal Palace and followed this up shortly after with a hatrick against Ipswich Town. Throughout the season Nolan was made captain and finished it by being named the Championship Player of the Year. His 17 goals from midfield were crucial in winning the title and was now firmly a fan favourite.
Nolan Newcastle
At the start of the next season he was named the new club captain and scored a brace against Aston Villa in their first home game back in the Premier League. On the 31st October came one of the greatest moments ever for him and every Newcastle fan as he scored a hatrick against Sunderland in a 5-1 win. He ended the season with 12 league goals, including another in the return game with Sunderland.

Although he was very impressive for Newcastle he was sold to West Ham in the summer and was immediately made captain. He was tasked with helping get the club promoted and he delivered by scoring 12 times and helped them win the playoff final against Blackpool. Back in the Premier League once more his form did not drop and he scored his first goal of the season in an opening day win over Aston Villa. He hit double figures for the fourth season in a row and this included his 100th career goal and a hatrick against Reading.
Nolan WH
Last season was a bit more difficult as his disciplinary record was not the greatest but he did still finish it as West Ham’s top scorer and a lot of their fans seem to forget that when talking about his contributions.

The final word can go to Joe Kinnear who signed him at Newcastle. “When I heard there was a chance of getting Kevin I was determined we would pull out all the stops to bring him here. He’s a player I think our fans will love. He’s a real inspirational player and a great character. He’s the sort of lad who never knows when he is beaten.”