30th August – Kris Commons

Kris Commons played over 500 games and scored over 100 goals during his professional career and proudced some magic moments.

Commons started his career at Stoke City, making his debut in a 3-2 defeat against Blackpool. Shortly afterwards he picked up an injury and was out of action for year before making his comeback in a 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday and his first goal came 16 days later against Norwich City. After a promising start he was offered a new contract, however he rejected it and signed for Nottingham Forest.

Commons NF

Although his first season ended in relegation from the Championship, Commons stayed with the club to try and get them promoted. He had to wait until his final season to finally achieve this aim and following a 3-2 win over Yeovil Town they gained promotion with the midfielder being named in the PFA League One Team of the Year. At this point he had played 159 times for Forest but with his contract up he made the unthinkable move to Derby County.

He started his time at Derby on the wing under Paul Jewell but he didn’t really show his potential until he was moved into the centre and he would go on to score the only goal of the game in a victory over Manchester United in the League Cup. Later on in the season he would also score the winning goal against Forest in an FA Cup game.

Commons DC

Injuries caught up with him in the next season and he didn’t have much of an impact, however the 2010-11 season was probably his best in England as he went on a run of seven goals in nine games. This form caught the attention of Celtic who signed him on the 28th January 2011 and on the following day he scored against Aberdeen and would end the season winning the Scottish Cup. Celtic won the title in the following campaign but it was a difficult one for Commons as he only scored one goal.

But he did manage to bounce back and show his quality. During the 2013-14 season he finished as the top scorer, hitting the back of the net 32 times in all competitions. However, this wasn’t enough to convince new manager Ronny Deila to give him a starting place. He did manage to turn this round again but things got worse when Brendan Rodgers took charge as he told him he would not be part of the squad.

Commons Celtic

Commons would stay at the club until the end of his contract and after a back injury he decided it was time to retire. His last games in football came during a loan spell at Hibernian where he played five times, scoring twice.

The final word can go to Neil Lennon. “He’s intelligent, grounded and hungry. What he will do is improve us and influence the team and squad on and off the field. He will provide a goal threat from the wider areas or deeper lying areas.”

Advertisements

16th August – Jonatan Johansson

Jonatan Johansson earned over 100 caps for his country Finland and will be well remembered in England and Scotland.

The striker played for many clubs in both countries and will be hoping to have a successful coaching career as well.

Johansson was born in Sweden but moved to Finland at a young age and started his career at his hometown club Pargas. After impressing for them he made the move to Finnish top flight team TPS Turku. In his first season he scored six times and was starting to become known as one of the top young prospects in the country.

In 1997 he made the surprising move to FC Flora in Estonia, becoming the first player from Finland to play there. He did not stay for long and after nine goals in nine games he moved onto Scottish giants Rangers. To begin with he struggled for game time until Walter Smith was replaced by Dick Advocaat. He repaid the Dutchman’s faith in the 1998-99 season by scoring 18 goals in all competitions. In terms of goals to minutes ratio he continued to impress but starts were sometimes hard to come by, in total he scored 24 goals in just 37 starts but he did also make 38 substitute appearances.

Johannsen Rangers

Before leaving in the summer of 2000 he had won the domestic treble and double in his final two seasons at the club and this convinced Charlton Athletic to sign the striker for £3.25 million. He was an instant success scoring 14 times in his first campaign and helped the club avoid relegation. He stayed for another five seasons and although the goals did not come as often as he would have hoped he was still an important member of the side until he fell out of favour during the 2005-06 season.

Johannsen CA

He ended the season on loan at Norwich City, scoring three times in 12 games. On his return to Charlton he was released after 168 games and 33 goals and subsequently signed for Malmo. Once again he was an instant success, scoring 11 goals in his first 14 matches but his time in Sweden didn’t last too long as he returned to Scotland, signing for Hibernian in January 2009, making his debut against rivals Hearts.

Johannsen Malmo

Johansson didn’t score for Hibs and in the summer he signed for St Johnstone and only managed one goal for them which turned out to be a winning goal against Hearts. After his short term deal expired he returned to TPS and scored 10 goals in 19 games including two against Inter Turku in their big derby of the season, helping the club win the 2010 Finnish Cup before announcing his retirement.

The striker is also second in the all time appearance list for Finland and their third highest scorer.

The final word can go to former Hibs manager Mixu Paatelainen. “The Hibernian supporters will quickly appreciate that we have obtained an experienced international striker who has scored goals wherever he has played.”

23rd May – Stephen Glass

Stephen Glass is one of those players that if it wasn’t for injuries could have become one of the most exciting wingers in the early 2000s.

The Scottish international showed a lot of talent in his early years, starting his career at Aberdeen and was regarded as one of Scotland’s hottest prospects. He was an instant success in a difficult season for Aberdeen during the 1994-95 campaign, scoring important goals in their final league fixture and also in both legs of their relegation playoff which helped secure their place in the top flight. He was also influential in the League Cup final against Dundee setting up both goals in a 2-0 win and earning himself the Man of the Match award.

In 1998, for a fee of £650,000, Glass signed for Newcastle United and despite making 29 appearances in his first season his injuries started to hamper his progress. His second season was blighted with injuries and new manager Bobby Robson saw him as a solid squad player. In the following two campaigns he only made six starts but his best moment came in December 2000 when he scored an equaliser against Manchester United.

Glass Newcastle

After his contract expired, he joined Watford and was seen to be a key player in Gianluca Vialli’s side. Unfortunately, the club had financial issues and, despite the club being keen to keep the midfielder, he was released after just two seasons.

F-FF8G30C

He returned to Scotland and joined Hibernian on a three year deal. After a promising start, once again, injuries took their toll and during the first campaign he missed the final of the 2004 League Cup. During the 2004-05 season Glass would only miss two league games and this would be one of his most successful as he helped the club finish third and qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

Glass Hibs

The 2006-07 season was a difficult one as he found himself playing out of position and after Tony Mowbray left the club, he was further down the pecking order under new manager John Collins. After just two starts in the following season, Glass joined Dunfermline in January on loan until the end of the season and in the summer he was given a permanent deal.

He showed his influence on the younger players in the squad and would go on to be named club captain but injuries struck and after an early knee injury he was released at the end of the 2009-10 season. After an unsuccessful trial at St Mirren, North American Soccer League side Carolina Seahawks offered him a deal but a hip injury limited him to just seven appearances and would soon announce his retirement.

The final word can go to former Newcastle great, Bob Moncur. “What I really like about him is that he goes either side to take on his full-back. And he doesn’t drift across the park. He goes straight at his man. He gets the ball in early too, which is going to benefit Alan Shearer so much.”

7th February – Clayton Donaldson

Clayton Donaldson has played a big part in Birmingham City’s revival this season under Gary Rowett and helped his side to a 1-1 draw with Fulham on his birthday but unfortunately could not add to his goal tally.

Now 31 it has been a long road for the 31 year old to reach the Championship but he has always scored goals at whatever club he has been at in England. It seemed like he made a bad decision leaving Brentford for Birmingham in the early months of the season but in recent weeks his new club have started playing much better.

The striker started his career at Hull City and scored on his debut on the 22nd October 2002 against Port Vale in the Football League Trophy. Shortly afterwards he joined Northern Premier League club Harrogate Town on loan and also scored on his debut for them against Gateshead. He spent three months at the club, scoring five times in 10 games. Back at his parent club he signed a new two year deal and made a further two appearances before the end of the season. After short loan spells at Scarborough and Halifax Town, he returned to Harrogate again on loan and had more success with the club, winning the Conference North Player of the Month in October 2004 and scored four times in 11 games before being released by his parent club.

In June 2005 Donaldson joined York City and had an impressive first season, finding the back of the net 18 times and being named Clubman of the Year. During his second season he was being linked with moves away from the club and this may have distracted for short periods and many clubs tabled bids for the striker but none were accepted. After 26 goals in the Conference he did leave York in the summer of 2007 and made the step up to the SPL and joined Hibernian. Donaldson got his first goal for the club after winning and scoring a penalty against Falkirk but was later sent off in the game. After serving his suspension he scored on his return against Motherwell and then later in the month got a hatrick against Kilmarnock.

Donaldson York

During the second half of the season he was frozen out of the team and didn’t play leading to a transfer to Crewe Alexandra in the summer. He first season wasn’t as prolific as he hoped but he improved in his second season despite injuries and eventually in his third season he showed his true potential. He ended the campaign as League Two’s top scorer with 28 goals.

Donaldson CA

Once again his talents were seen by teams in higher leagues and on the 1st July 2011 he joined League One side Brentford. In each of his three seasons he hit double figures and was a constant threat to the opposition, ending his time there with over 50 goals but even though he helped them to promotion at the end of the 2013-14 season he declined their new contract offer and joined Birmingham. He is already in double figures so he has proved he can make the step up to the level and it will be interesting to see how far he can go.

Donaldson Brentford

The final word can go to Birmingham manager Gary Rowett. “He deserves his purple patch because he works so hard for the team. His role is pivotal to the way we play and he plays it brilliantly. He occupies defenders and all the players appreciate the role he does. He’s picking up goals as well and for me they’re bonuses.”

1st October – Ricardo Vaz Te

Ricardo Vaz Te may not be getting much game time at West Ham at the moment but the club definitely owe a lot to him and may not even be in the Premier League if it wasn’t for him.

The forward scored a late winner in the Championship playoff final against Blackpool just a few months after signing for the club and the fans, board and manager should not forget his achievements. This season West Ham are definitely a more attacking team and have certainly played a lot better football and maybe the fans would have seen more of Vaz Te’s talents had he been in a side that played this style of football. Now 28 he should be in the best years of his career but he is sat on the bench probably getting more frustrated.

Vaz Te started his career at Bolton Wanderers in 2003 when Sam Allardyce was in charge and quickly rose through the youth teams and made his debut in an FA Cup tie against Tranmere Rovers in January 2004. Two months later he made his Premier League debut in a 2-0 defeat against Middlesbrough and started his first ever game away to Manchester United later in the year.
Vaz Te Bolton
Over the next few seasons he was involved regularly but most of his appearances were from the bench and injuries ruined his time at the club. On the 11th May 2010 he was released by Bolton after playing 78 times and scoring seven goals, while at the club he also had a loan spell at Hull City.

On the 30th June 2010 Vaz Te joined Greek side Panionios on a three year deal, however the club suffered financial problems and after just six months agreed to cancel his contract. He feature eight times for the club, scoring one goal but it must have been difficult for a young player to continue playing when he had not received any pay for four of the six months he was at the club.

His next move was to Scotland after a trial with Hibernian, they signed him on the 28th February 2011 and made his debut in a 1-1 draw with St Johnstone. Although his time at the club was short, he did become a fan favourite after scoring in the Edinburgh derby against Hearts, however this turned out to be his only goal. At the end of the season he joined Championship side Barnsley in July 2011 on trial and impressed enough to earn a contract with the club.

He had to wait a while to score his first goal but will go down as one of the club’s best strikers in recent years after hitting a fantastic run of form. His first goal did not come until a 2-0 win over Burnley on the 18th October and afterwards he scored some important goals that will make the Barnsley fans never forget him. On the 6th December he scored the fastest goal in Barnsley’s history after scoring only 8.5 seconds into a match against Crystal Palace and then scored a hatrick against Leeds United in a 4-1 win on the 31st December.
Vaz Te Barnsley
After 10 goals in 22 games he was being linked with moves away from the club and joined promotion chasing West Ham on the 31st January 2012. Over the course of the 2011-12 season Vaz Te scored 24 goals, including 12 in just 18 games for his new club, including the winning goal in the Championship playoff final.
Vaz Te WH
Since promotion to the Premier League, he has suffered from injuries and has never really been given a run in the side.

The final word can go to Sam Allardyce. “Ricardo Vaz Te: what a signing. He’s one of my best signings ever and I’ve had some bargain buys in my time, he deserves a lot of credit. He was down and out in his career, and I brought him back.”

20th September – Henrik Larsson

Henrik Larsson is loved by Celtic fans because of everything he did for the club but he will also be fondly remembered by fans of Barcelona, Manchester United and Helsignborg.

The striker is now 43 and is currently the manager of Swedish side Falkenberg. It will always be difficult for his managerial career to match up to his playing career as he won honours all throughout his career and scored goals at every level.

Larsson started his career at Hogaborg and after leaving school he combined a semi professional career at the club with work as a fruit packer. He was a regular goal scorer, hitting the back of the net 23 times in 74 games. This convinced Swedish second division side Helsingborg to sign him in 1992. In his first year he scored 34 goals which helped his side gain promotion to the top flight and his career continued to grow after scoring 16 in the following season to help them finish in a respectable mid table position. In November 1993 Larsson signed for Dutch side Feyenoord.
Larsson Feyenoord
He never really settled but he still managed to play over 100 times for the club and score 26 league goals. During his time at the club he also won two KNVB Cups and was also a consistent goal scorer in Europe, particularly the 1994-95 season where he scored seven times.

He left Feyenoord in 1997 but had to go through a legal battle with the club before signing for Celtic. On his debut he inadvertently set up the winner for Hibernian in a 2-1 loss and then scored an own goal on his European debut against Tirol Innsbruck. But he recovered from this and finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 18 in all competitions, including goals in the final of the League Cup and also on the final day of the season, clinching the title for Celtic.

His second season was better on a personal level as he hit 38 goals but Celtic could not retain their title. After a bright start in the 1999-00 season, he suffered a broken leg in two places and it was feared that his career was over, but after eight months out he returned as a substitute on the last day of the season. He then had his best season, scoring 35 goals in 38 games and winning the treble in Scotland. He would go on to win the Golden Boot in the next two seasons as well.
Larsson Celtic
After seven years at Celtic he left with four SPL titles, two Scottish League Cups and two Scottish Cups. In 2002 he was voted in Celtic’s greatest ever team, finishing with 242 goals in 315 matches. At the end of the 2003-04 season he joined Barcelona. He played his part in helping them win the title and earned a contract extension despite missing a lot of the season through injury. He announced he would be returning to Sweden at the end of the 2004-05 season and in his final game for the club he came on as a substitute in the Champions League final, setting up both goals in a 2-1 win over Arsenal.

Larsson then re-signed for Helsingborg and scored eight goals in 15 league games and helped them win the Swedish Cup. With it being the off season in Sweden, Larsson joined Manchester United on loan and scored on his debut against Aston Villa. Larsson went back to his parent club after 13 games and three goals. On the 20th October 2009 he announced his retirement from playing but was still scoring goals and ended his second spell at Helsingborg with 54 goals in just 104 games.
Larsson MUFC
The final word can go to Alex Ferguson speaking after his final game for the club. “The players took to him very well. That’s the thing I’ll remember. He was all over the place, tackling, running and sprinting forward. When we walked into the dressing room, all of the players stood up and applauded him because it was his last game. It was a really touching moment.”

7th June – Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson is 33 today and is the youngest manager in England and has been in charge of Oldham Athletic since the 18th March 2013.

It is remarkable that a club would give the manager’s job to a 31 year old but he has achieved all his expectations and has proved to be a very good appointment. His dad, Gary, is also a football manager so he has obviously had a lot of help and always has someone to call when he needs someone to talk to about tactics and other areas of management.

Johnson had an interesting start to his football career as he left Arsenal after a falling out with one of the coaches at the club and was then signed by Watford but he could not break into their team and ended up at Brighton. While at Brighton he only played once in the Football League Trophy but he did manage to score a goal in the game against Cardiff City. In 2001 he joined his father’s team Yeovil Town in the Conference and while at the club he helped them gain promotion twice as they rose to League One. The player also began to have a growing reputation as he was getting better and better as the club got higher up the leagues and he won their Player of the Year award three years in a row.

After 191 league appearances for Yeovil he left in January 2006 to join Scottish Premier League side Hearts for £50,000 and manager Graham Rix was delighted with his signing. “He will bring enthusiasm, ability, he wants to play and he wants to get better. He is dynamic. He wants to get on the ball and make passes. He is full of energy and he is competitive.” His debut was memorable as it came in a 4-1 victory over Edinburgh rivals Hibernian. However Graham Rix was sacked soon after and Johnson only made one substitute appearance after he left.
Soccer - Coca-Cola Football League Championship - West Bromwich Albion v Bristol City - The Hawthorns
In August 2006 he was reunited with his dad as he joined Bristol City and had a very good first season by helping them win promotion to the Championship. Johnson was a key figure in Bristol City’s run to the playoff final in the Championship, unfortunately they lost the game against Hull City but the player’s reputation had grown and he was one of standout players in the division.

He remained a key member of the squad for many years but in 2010 he was loaned out to Derby County for a month and played four times for the club before returning to his parent club. He also had a brief loan spell at Chesterfield before leaving the club permanently in January 2012.
Johnson Kilmarnock
Johnson signed a two and half year deal with Kilmarnock in the SPL and he played a crucial part in the Scottish League Cup final as he set up the only goal of the game against Celtic and picked up a winners medal just a little over a month after signing for the club. Less than a year later though he decided to leave the club and was soon appointed the manager of Oldham.

His first game in charge was a 3-0 win over Hartlepool United which lifted the club out of the relegation zone and they successfully avoided relegation. His most important victory was over his dad as his team beat promotion chasing Yeovil Town towards the end of the season which must have been a great moment for the younger Johnson.
Johnson Yeovil
In the summer he had time to change the style of the club and the fans took to it warmly as they were playing fast attacking football and they received many plaudits for the way they played. However, a lot of the time they were seen as admirable losers after not getting the results they deserved but they did finish the season with a 10 match unbeaten run and finished the season in 15th place. Johnson was rewarded with a new three year contract by the board.

The final word can go to his dad Gary. “Over the years, he has been on all the courses. He’s gone out and met a lot of coaches, he’s been to Barcelona all off his own back and at his own expense. He just wants to learn, he’s like a sponge as far as wanting to take things in.”