13th March – Edgar Davids

Going from winning the Champions League, Eredivisie and Serie A title to managing Barnet just shows how crazy Edgar Davids career was but he was certainly a very good player and one that was instantly recognisable.

Due to glaucoma Davids had to wear protective glasses and this made him stand out on the field to anyone that watched him play but for people that loved football they could see that not only was he one of the most combative and energetic midfielders he also had a lot of creativity and could see passes that attacking midfielders would have been proud of.

Davids Ajax

Davids is now 41 and started his career at Ajax, making his debut on the 6th September 1991 in a 5-1 win over RKC Waalwijk. The midfielder spent five years at the club and helped them to three league titles as well as a UEFA Cup and the Champions League in 1995. In total he played 106 league games and scored 20 times before moving to Inter Milan at the start of the 1996-97 season. Unfortunately he wasn’t very successful at the club and after just 19 games he left for Juventus in December 1997 for £5.3 million.

He quickly became an important member of the side and was known as the driving force in the midfield and had six very successful years at the club. He picked up three Serie A titles as well as two Italian Supercups but sadly for him and the club during his time there he reached the Champions League final twice but would go on to lose both games. In January 2004 his time with Juventus was over and he joined Barcelona in loan. They were nowhere near the team they are now and were struggling in midtable but recently appointed Frank Rijkaard realised they needed more of a presence in the centre of the park and Davids was the perfect man. After he joined the club soon found form and they would rise up to second in the table by the end of the season and this was seen as the catalyst for their dominance of Spanish and European football.

Davids Juve

Surprisingly in the summer of 2004 he made the move back to Inter Milan, however he once again only lasted one season and was released from his contract in August 2005. Davids then joined Tottenham Hotspur and was an instant success and quickly became a favourite. In both years he would help the club finish fifth but he only managed one goal in a 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic.

Davids TH

Davids returned to Ajax on the 28th January 2007 and helped the club win the KNVB Cup by scoring the winning penalty against AZ. But a broken leg in the following pre season meant he couldn’t have the same impact in his second spell. On the 20th August 2010 he made another surprising move, this time joining Championship side Crystal Palace. He would only stay until the 8th November but he still described the experience as one of the best of his life.

After this spell he stayed in London and wanted to get back into the game so joined Barnet as player-manager on the 11th October 2012 and would be named as man of the match on his debut in a 4-0 win over Northampton Town. However, despite his early success he could not keep Barnet in the Football League and after failing to challenge for promotion he resigned from the club on the 18th January 2014 with a 36% win rate.

The final word can go to George Burley after he left Crystal Palace. “It was a privilege to work with him, everybody at the club enjoyed it, he’s been a world class player. It was a great experience for everyone at the club and if you asked me to do it again I would.”

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9th March – Juan Sebastian Veron

Manchester United have spent a lot of money over the years and a lot of this has been on Argentinean midfielders, including Juan Sebastian Veron.

Obviously Angel Di Maria has been grabbing all the headlines lately for his somewhat average performances after a massive money move and to a lot of the Old Trafford faithful it must feel like déjà vu. Veron came to Manchester United with a reputation of being one of the best players in the world and he will forever go down as one of Alex Ferguson’s biggest flops as he struggled to adapt to life in England and failed to produce the goods while in the Premier League.

Now 40, Veron started his career in Argentina with Estudiantes, where he is currently chairman, in 1993. During his second season at the club he became a valuable member of the team and helped the club get promoted to the top flight. After 60 league games he would leave and join Argentinean giants Boca Juniors. While there he lined up alongside Diego Maradona but he would only last 17 league games before moving on to try his hand in Europe.

JSV Estudiantes

In 1996 he joined Italian side Sampdoria, who were managed by Sven Goran Eriksson at the time, and was an instant success. This convinced Parma to splash out on the midfielder after an impressive 1998 World Cup and he was once again one of the first names on the team sheet as the club won the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup. Despite this success he would only stay the one season and was signed once again by Eriksson, this time for Lazio and he would go on to even better things.

JSV Sampdoria

During the 1999-00 season he was the driving force and it was not a surprise that they were so successful as Veron was one of the best attacking midfielders in the world at that point and would create numerous chances for the strikers. Lazio ended the season winning Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Italian Super Cup as well as lifting the European Super Cup. His second season was not quite as productive as he was involved in a lot of off field matters that seemed to affect his performances.

On the 12th July 2001 Veron was signed by Manchester United for £28.1 million which was a new British transfer record. But the midfielder never lived up to this price tag and despite some impressive performances in the Champions League, he never quite showed his talents in the Premier League. Injuries also didn’t help his situation but he did manage to pick up a Premier League winners medal at the end of the 2002-03 season. After 51 fairly disappointing league games, Veron somewhat surprisingly moved to another English club, signing for Chelsea for £15 million.

JSV MU

At Chelsea he got off to a good start by scoring a winning goal against Liverpool at Anfield but not a lot went right for him after that and he only ended up playing 15 times in total for the club. When Jose Mourinho was appointed manager he loaned Veron out to Inter Milan for two seasons and his performances were better in Italy as he helped the club win the Coppa Italia twice. He did return to Chelsea but it wasn’t for long as he was quickly loaned back out to Estudiantes until the end of his contract. He was back to his best in his homeland and played for a further six seasons and was even voted South American Footballer of the Year in 2008 and 2009 as well as best player of the 2009 Copa Libertadores as his side went on to win the competition.

The final word can go to Alex Ferguson. “He is a marvellous player. He brings a nice pace to the team. What we have done is bring in a really top player, one of the best in the world. He’s a fantastic footballer and will bring a personality to the team.”

15th February – Heurelho Gomes

Heurelho Gomes might have been ridiculed for his time at Tottenham Hotspur after some high profile mistakes ruined his reputation but he is slowly starting to rebuild that now at Watford.

At the age of 34 it could be argued that his best years are in front of him and he will be doing his best to keep Watford in the promotion race and hopefully get promoted back to the Premier League. At the weekend he was involved in one of the best games in England with his side defeating Bolton Wanderers 4-3. Despite conceding three times he pulled off some fantastic saves and is quickly becoming a fan favourite at the club.

Gomes started his career in Brazil with Cruzeiro where he played 59 times between 2001 and 2004 before being scouted by teams in Europe and in July 2004 he joined Dutch side PSV. At first there were people who doubted his abilities but after a difficult debut in which he conceded twice against RBC he became one of the most consistent goalkeepers in Europe. In his first season PSV overachieved and reached the semi finals of the Champions League and they were very unlucky not to reach the final that year. Previously PSV hadn’t even qualified for the Second Round of the competition.

Gomes Cruz

He was definitely a fan favourite and was well known for his acrobatic saves and long throws which set off a lot of attacks for his side. He spent four seasons at the club and played 129 league games but on the 27th June 2008 he left for Tottenham Hotspur. Gomes’ early form was very patchy and he conceded very soft goals against Aston Villa and Fulham leaving Tottenham in the relegation zone. But he did improve and made some important saves in the win over West Ham and the 0-0 draw with Manchester United.

Gomes PSV

In the following campaign he was more solid and played a key role in helping Tottenham finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history. But the competition wasn’t a happy one for Gomes as he was sent off in 10 minutes in the game against Inter Milan. Later in the competition he also made a mistake against Real Madrid which effectively ended their chances to progress.

Gomes TH

With more errors to follow, it seemed like the managers had lost patience with the goalkeeper and firstly they signed Brad Friedel which meant Gomes had to spend long periods on the bench. Then he slipped even further down the pecking order after Hugo Lloris was signed so in January 2013 he signed for Hoffenheim on loan. On his debut against Freiburg he made some crucial saves and helped his side to a 2-1 win. His season was ended prematurely by injury and he had to undergo hand surgery.For a full season he sat in Spurs’ reserves until his contract expired and he joined Watford on the 24th May 2014.

The final word can go to Harry Redknapp. “He is a great character, a lovely man, a fantastic fella and a top goalkeeper. He has been fine in training. Gomes is top class, when he is on his game he is a great goalkeeper.”

28th October – Obafemi Martins

Obafemi Martins is a player with a fantastic history, having been the number nine at Newcastle United and also scoring the winning goal for Birmingham City in the League Cup final.

The striker had electric pace and a brilliant shot on him that a lot of goalkeepers struggled to keep a hold of. He has had a lot of ups and downs in his career but has largely been a fan favourite at every club and is now currently scoring regularly for Seattle Sounders in the MLS and his goals have helped his side to the top of the table.

The 30 year old started his career in Nigeria before getting a trial at Serie C side Reggiana in Italy and signed a youth contract with the club in 2000. After just two appearanceshe joined Inter Milan and would go on to make his debut against Parma in December 2002. Martins began to make an impact during the 2002-03 season where he showed his quality in the Champions League, scoring against Bayer Leverkusen and AC Milan. His best season for the club was in the 2004-05 season, where he scored 22 goals in 45 games, unfortunately for him, Inter decided to sign other strikers soon after.
Martins IM
In total he scored 49 goals for the Italian side before signing for Newcastle United on the 24th August 2006 and was handed the number nine shirt, taking over from Alan Shearer. After a difficult start, in which he suffered a few injuries, he would go on to score his first goal for the club on the 17th September against West Ham in a 2-0 win and he became a regular scorer hitting one of the goals of the season when he scored from 20 yards against Tottenham Hotspur at a speed of 84mph. Martins ended his first season with 17 goals in all competitions. His second season at the club was mixed as he had to settle for a place on the bench under Sam Allardyce, as he preferred Michael Owen and Mark Viduka upfront. But after Kevin Keegan became manager he found a system that allowed all three players to be on the field and combine well. He finished the season with 10 goals in 33 games.
Soccer - FA Barclays Premiership - Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Villa Park
Martins then started the 2008-09 season in fantastic form, scoring six goals in 12 games before tearing his hamstring and later in the season needing an operation on a hernia, meaning he could not continue this form. After being out since January he returned to the side in a relegation six pointer against Middlesbrough and scored twice. However, this would not be good enough to keep them in the Premier League.

On the 31st July 2009 Martins joined Wolfsburg for £9 million and went on to score on his debut against FC Koln. He only stayed at the club for one season but scored six times in 16 Bundesliga games. He then moved on to Russian side Rubin Kazan and helped them win the Russian Cup but it was not the greatest time for the striker and on the 31st January 2011 he joined Birmingham City on loan. Although his time at the club was ruined by injuries, he still managed to write himself into their history books as he scored the winning goal in the League Cup final against Arsenal.

With the club getting relegated from the Premier League a permanent move was no longer on the cards and Martins joined Levante. On his league debut he scored twice in a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad and was a decent goalscorer, hitting the back of the net in a third of his league games. But on the 15th March 2013 he joined MLS side Seattle Sounders and last season finished with 17 goals, as well as 13 assists for the club, a joint club record with Mauro Rosales.
Martins SS
The final word can go to Kevin Keegan. “He excites me very much as a player. He is very, very different to not only anything we have got at this football club, but probably in the Premier League. It sends up all sorts of ideas in your mind what this player can bring to the football club.”

21st October – Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United have been inconsistent so far this season and major reason for this is because they have struggled at the back and many believe that they should have kept Nemanja Vidic.

The central defender was a huge success at Old Trafford and formed an impressive partnership with Rio Ferdinand that helped the club win a lot of trophies. He turns 33 today and that is still young for a centre back, especially when pace was never one of his greatest attributes. Vidic felt it was time to leave after last season but he will still be considered a Manchester United legend.

Vidic started his career at Red Star Belgrade but had his first taste of professional football on loan at Serbian side Spartak Subotica in 2000 and had a very good goalscoring record for a defender, scoring six league goals in 26 games. This form convinced Red Star manager Zoran Filipovic to put him into the team for the 2001-02 season. In his first season he won the Yugoslav Cup and was named club captain and would help the club onto better things, winning the domestic double in 2004. After 16 goals in 95 games, the defender joined Russian side Spartak Moscow in July 2004.
Vidic RSB
He spent two years at the Russian side and his reputation grew and was being watched by other clubs and on the 5th January 2006 he joined Manchester United. He had to wait until the 26th January to make his debut in the semi final of the League Cup against Blackburn Rovers. They would go onto win the competition and Vidic came on as a substitute in the final, which meant he received a winners medal, however he gave it to Giuseppe Rossi in recognition of the Italian’s contribution.
Vidic SM
During the 2006-07 season he finally became a first team regular and played 25 times in the Premier League as the club went on to lift the title and was rewarded with a five year contract in the following campaign. The club would go onto retain the title and also won the Champions League after beating Chelsea. The 2008-09 season was arguably his best as he was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award as well as winning the fans and players’ Player of the Year awards. This is an even better achievement considering that the club the defence was never settled. He would also start every match in their record breaking 14 consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League.

The next important moment during his career at Manchester United was in the 2010-11 season when he was named club captain. On the 30th October 2010, Vidic scored against Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-0 win and he has the honour of scoring the 1000th Premier League goal at Old Trafford. At the end of the season he would lift another Premier League trophy and Manchester United’s record breaking 19th.
Vidic MU
The 2011-12 season was frustrating for the defender as he suffered injuries and it was ended on the 7th December after he twisted his knee in a Champions League game against Basel. He finally returned in a 1-0 defeat against Everton on the 20th August 2012 but after suffering more injuries he would only play 22 games, however he did pick up his final Premier League winners medal at the end of the season. His final year at the club was very disappointing and he announced that he would be leaving the club and after 300 appearances he joined Inter Milan. He has not had the greatest of starts as he gave away a penalty on his debut and was sent off against Torino. Then against Palermo he made an error which allowed Franco Vazquez to score in a 1-1 draw.

The final word can go to Alex Ferguson. “Nemanja is a warrior, he’s a natural defender and he loves defending. There have been few defenders like him over the years. Nemanja is so powerful and positive in everything. He has been a great signing.”

12th August – Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli is loved by a lot of football fans but this is not always because of what he does on the pitch and has gained a lot of attention for his antics off the pitch.

While he does do some extraordinary things off the field, he certainly has proved over the years that he is a phenomenal footballer and a lot of people forget. At the age of just 24 he has the potential to become one of the best goal scorers in the game and one of the most feared strikers in the world. One thing that can always be said about Balotelli is that he turns up on the big occasion.

Balotelli began his career at Lumezzane and made his debut in Serie C1 at the age of just 15 against Padova on the 2nd April 2006. He was linked with big clubs in Europe and joined Inter Milan. He made his Serie A debut against Cagliari on the 16th December 2007 and three days later he scored twice in a Coppa Italia game against Reggina and then gained even more attention after scoring twice against Juventus in the same competition.
Balotelli Inter
In the following season he became Inter’s youngest ever scorer in the Champions League after netting against Anorthosis Famagusta. However, his second year was more difficult as him and then manager Jose Mourinho did not get along and he was frozen out of the squad. Despite this and him having to make a lot of appearances as a substitute he still managed to score 20 league goals in just 59 games before leaving.

Manchester City signed the striker and he made his Premier League debut against Arsenal on the 24th October but he had to wait until the 7th November before scoring his first goals for the club in a 2-0 win over West Brom. However, in the same game he was sent off. But he recovered from this and scored a hatrick against Aston Villa in December and was then later named man of the match in the final of the FA Cup which they won 1-0.
Balotelli MC
The striker then started the new season brilliantly with three goals early on and then the opening two goals in the 6-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. After the first goal he also revealed a t-shirt that said ‘why always me’. Despite a very good season in which he scored 17 times in 32 games in all competitions he also picked up his four red cards during the season and it looked like manager Roberto Mancini had lost patience with his striker. However, when he was most needed he turned up for City and provided the assist for the Sergio Aguero goal that won them the Premier League title in the 94th minute against QPR.

His final season at City was much tougher after only scoring one Premier League goal in 14 games before leaving in January 2013 for AC Milan. He was sensational for the club straight away and proved his quality by scoring twice on his debut and then went on to finish the season with 12 goals in just 13 games.
Balotelli AC
Last season Balotelli kept up a good goalscoring record by hitting the back of the 14 times in Serie A and was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible season for the Italian club.

The final word can go to Roberto Mancini. “I think that Mario is one of the best players of his age in Europe. His style of play will suit the Premier League, and because he is still so young there is a big chance to improve. He is strong and exciting player, and City fans will enjoy watching him.”

2nd August – Nacer Chadli

Nacer Chadli had an indifferent first season in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur but he will be hoping to make his mark in the upcoming year.

The winger was also part of Belgium’s World Cup squad and although they did not quite live up to their potential they did still get some good results and were involved in arguably the game of the tournament against USA. Now that Chadli has had a season to settle in he will be hoping to show his true potential and is still only 25 so he could develop into a truly great player for Spurs.

Chadli started his career in the second division of Dutch football at AGOVV Apeldoorn and was considered one of the best young players in the division and one that would go onto bigger things in his career. He spent three years at the club and scored 28 goals in 90 games but it was his final season that where he really showed his potential and scored 20 times in all competitions and in the summer of 2010 he signed for the reigning champions of Holland FC Twente.
Chadli Apeldoorn
His first goal for the club was a very important one as he scored the winning goal away to title rivals PSV. Shortly afterwards he made his European debut in the Champions League against Inter Milan on the 14th September and then two weeks later he scored his first Champions League against Tottenham. At the end of his first season at the club he ended with 13 goals in all competitions. He stayed at the club for the next two years and was definitely catching the eye and once again in his final season he had a fantastic year and it was no wonder other teams were looking to sign him after scoring 18 times in 38 games.
Chadli Twente
On the 21st July 2013 Chadli signed for Tottenham for £7 million and made his debut in a 5-2 friendly defeat to Monaco just before the start of the new season. He then made his official debut in the first game of the season against Crystal Palace in a 1-0 win. He was in and out of the squad for a lot of the season particularly under Andre Villas Boas but after Tim Sherwood took over he found a new role in the team and started playing as a central attacking midfielder. He proved his worth to the team in an impressive 4-0 win over Newcastle United and maybe this is the position where he will be most successful but he has to once again prove his worth to new manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Chadli TH
The final word can go to his former manager Tim Sherwood who believes next year he will be even better. “We all know what Nacer can do. It’s all about the settling in period. We know he possesses that ability, he would not play for the Belgian national team if he didn’t. We see him do it every day in training.”