22nd March – Luke Freeman

Luke Freeman has had a double celebration today after turning 23 and also helping Bristol City defeat Walsall 2-0 in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.

The midfielder is looking to have a fantastic end to a season that has already been pretty special for Bristol City and their fans as they look like they are going to get promoted to the Championship as League One champions. Freeman has always been a very good player and one that definitely has the ability to prove it at a higher level so he will be hoping that the club can secure promotion as quickly as possible so he can prepare for the second tier of English football.

Freeman started his career at Gillingham where he made his debut against Barnet in the FA Cup on the 10th November 2007 at the age of just 15 years and 233 days, therefore becoming Gillingham’s youngest ever player and also the youngest player to appear in the FA Cup. Later in the month he would also make his league debut against Hartlepool United and his performances caught the eye of several Premier League clubs and joined Arsenal on trial in December 2007.

Arsenal signed Freeman on the 30th January 2008 and after impressing for the under 18s he was given a professional contract by the club just over a year later. After progressing through the youth teams and into the reserves he needed first team opportunities and joined Yeovil Town on loan at the start of the 2010-11 season. He got off to a great start scoring in a 2-1 win over Leyton Orient on his debut and would go on to play 12 more league games for the club before his loan was ended by injury.

Freeman YT

He recovered from his injury and would impress again for Arsenal’s reserves and was eager to go back out on loan, this time joining Stevenage on the 17th November 2011. In his second loan spell away he played nine games and scored one goal in a 6-1 win over Colchester United but his performances particularly off the bench were exciting and showed he had a lot of potential. This convinced Stevenage to sign Freeman permanently on the 10th January 2012. He would help the club reach the playoffs with seven goals in 32 games but unfortunately they would lose out in the semi finals.

Freeman Stevenage

The 2012-13 wasn’t as successful for the midfielder as he struggled for consistency and spent a lot of the season featuring as a substitute. However in the following season, despite Stevenage finishing bottom of League One, he put in some fantastic performances and ended the campaign with a career best eight goals. After 128 games and 17 goals for Stevenage, Freeman would leave for Bristol City on the 26th June 2014.

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So far for Bristol City he has played 48 times in all competitions, scored seven goals and provided 15 assists which just shows how important he is to the side and is a big reason why they are challenging at the top of the table.

The final word can go to Steve Cotterill. “He’s someone we’ve been keeping tabs on for some time and I’m delighted we’ve been able to bring Luke on board. He’s a good, young, exciting player. He’s an excellent addition to the football club for the short term and long term. He can play on the left, on the right and cut in, or play in a midfield three.”

4th February – Kevin Campbell

Kevin Campbell may not be one of the biggest names to have played during the Premier League era but he was certainly a good striker that could always grab a goal for whoever he was playing for.

The 45 year old has been retired since 2007 but will be fondly remembered by Everton and West Brom in particular. During his career he did a rare thing for an English player and that was play abroad. He also scored 83 Premier League goals which puts him number 40 in the all time list.

Campbell began his career at Arsenal and was prolific for the youth team, scoring 59 goals in a single season and helping the club win the FA Youth Cup. He went on to make his debut on 7th May 1988 against Everton, unfortunately he could not find his way past Paul Merson and Alan Smith to secure a first team spot. In 1989 he joined Leyton Orient on loan and was a success scoring nine times in 16 games which led to them wanting to sign him permanently, however Arsenal refused to sell.

Campbell AFC

He went out on loan once more, this time to Leicester City and again showed that he could find the back of the net with five goals in 11 games. In the 1990-91 season he established himself in the Arsenal first team and helped the team win the First Division title after scoring eight times in ten games during the run in. After the signing of Ian Wright, Campbell got less recognition for his work but still chipped in with some important goals. Over the next few seasons he helped the team win the FA Cup, League Cup and the Cup Winners Cup. More signings were made, including John Hartson and Dennis Bergkamp, so Campbell left the club after playing 224 games and scoring 59 goals.

Nottingham Forest signed the striker for £2.5 million in the summer of 1995 but unfortunately he could not stop them from getting relegated in 1997. He stuck with the team and his 23 goals in the following season helped them to an immediate return to the Premier League. Controversy then clouded the next 12 months of his career as he was sold to Turkish side Trabzonspor for £2.5 million and this made Forest striker Pierre van Hooijdonk go on strike. But worse was still to come as after just seven months he was involved in a racist incident with the club president. Campbell was very popular with the fans and the other players so they stood behind him and accompanied him to the press conference announcing his departure and the reasons.

Campbell NF

In March 1999, Campbell joined relegation threatened Everton and was arguably one of the greatest loans ever in the Premier League. Despite only playing eight games he finished the season as the club’s top scorer with nine goals and was named April’s Player of the Month. In the summer he made the move permanent and he became even more of a legend at the club by scoring the winner against Liverpool at Anfield. Although Everton were largely disappointing in the Premier League with bottom half finishes, Campbell was a regular scorer.

Campbell Everton

West Brom then signed Campbell on a free transfer in January 2005 and many had written them off after being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas. But after making Campbell captain there was an upturn in form and he led them to survival, the first time a team had achieved this. Unfortunately he could not repeat the trick in the following season and the club were relegated and was released. He then joined Cardiff City but he could not have as much of an influence as he hoped and played his last professional game on the 20th February 2007 against former club West Brom.

The final word can go to Bryan Robson. “He’s got vast experience and Premier League know-how. I think he’ll be a success. He’s up for trying to keep us in the Premier League. The way he leads the line is a good example to everybody but the way he gets on with players has been excellent.”

17th October – Kevin Lisbie

Kevin Lisbie might be 36 but he has just got better as his career has gone on and last season he was a massive part of Leyton Orient’s promotion challenge.

Leyton Orient surprised everyone last season and were unlucky to not get promoted after losing to Rotherham United on penalties in the League One playoff final. Lisbie has been a consistent goal scorer for the club and although this season has started slowly for the club, they will be hoping to pick up some better results and recover from losing manager Russell Slade. The striker is just as important off the field as he is on it and his experience will be vital now.

The Jamaican international started his career at Charlton Athletic and made his professional debut during the 1996-97 season and helped them gain promotion to the Premier League in his second season. He did not get much of a chance in the top flight and had to go out on loan. He joined Gillingham and played seven times for the club, scoring four times. With Charlton getting relegated he was expected to play a part in the first team but this did not happen and he had to go out on loan during the 1999-00 season, joining Reading, however he only played twice.

Charlton once again gained promotion but this time Lisbie got more of a chance after a loan spell at QPR in December 2000, he went on to play 18 Premier League games. He had his best goalscoring season in the following campaign for the club, hitting the back of the net five times but in February 2002 he was placed on the transfer list. He eventually signed a new contract in May.
Lisbie CA
His best moment in a Charlton shirt came in September 2003 when he scored a hatrick in a 3-2 win over Liverpool but unfortunately he could not build on this as he suffered from injuries and ended it with five goals in just 10 games. After he returned he became a regular in the side during the 2004-05 campaign but after suffering from nosebleeds it was discovered that he had a benign tumour in the back of his nose which had to be treated.

In the 2005-06 season he was loaned out a few times, firstly to Norwich City and then Derby County and this signalled that his time at Charlton was over. After 176 games for the club he was released and after a successful trial at Colchester United he joined the club in August 2007. Despite the club getting relegated from the Championship, Lisbie was in fantastic form and in just one season he surpassed his league goals for Charlton after scoring 17 times and finished as the club’s top scorer.
Lisbie CU
This meant that clubs were interested in him and he joined Ipswich Town for £600,000 in July 2008. He started off quite well at the club but struggled to hold down a first team place, with him failing to play a single game in the last two years. During this time he had to go out on loan again, and rejoined Colchester in August 2009 and scored twice on his second debut on the opening day in a 7-1 win over Norwich. He once again became a fan favourite as he finished as their top scorer with 13 goals but with the club failing to get promoted he decided not to sign for the club permanently.

He then spent the 2010-11 season on loan to Millwall in the Championship but injury problems meant he could not play to his full potential and he only managed four goals in 20 appearances. After being released by Ipswich he joined Leyton Orient on the 9th September 2011 and has become a hero for the club, scoring 46 times in his three full seasons at the club so far, with a best of 18 coming last season.
Lisbie LO
The final word can go to Russell Slade. “Kevin is a huge player for us. He’s a class act and an excellent professional, who offers us valuable experience and quality, both on and off the pitch.”

5th October – Kevin Mirallas

Kevin Mirallas will be a big loss for Everton and they seemed to miss him in their defeat to Manchester United as he adds something extra to their attack and would have caused the defence more problems.

The 27 year old has been a big success since coming to England and has shown that he can play in a lot of different positions and in various formations which has made him one of the manager’s favourite players. He had started the season well, scoring twice in the opening six Premier League games before suffering an injury in the Merseyside derby which could keep him out until December.

Mirallas started his youth career in his native Belgium and was a part of Standard Liege’s squad but before he could make a first team appearance he moved to France and signed for Lille. He got his chance to show his talents during the 2004-05 season and started getting more and more game time before becoming a first team regular in the 2007-08 season where he played 37 times and scored seven goals.
Mirallas Lille
This proved to be his last season at the club as he joined Saint Etienne after 89 appearances and 11 goals for Lille. Mirallas got off to a great start at his new club by scoring in the Rhone-Loire derby against Lyon on his debut. However, he struggled to make much of an impact and in his two seasons he played 69 times and only found the back of the net five times.
Mirallas SE
In June 2010 he joined Greek side Olympiakos initially on loan and after finishing as the club’s top scorer this move was made permanent. In his first campaign he scored 14 goals and only Djibril Cisse outscored him in the league but his goals were enough to secure the title for Olympiakos. In the following season he scored the first hatrick of his career in a 4-0 win over Levadiakos and then went one better by scoring four times in a 7-2 win over Asteras Tripolis. His form was beginning to attract attention from other clubs around Europe as he finished with a second league winners medal and also finished as the top scorer in the division with 20 goals.

On the 12th August 2012, Mirallas joined Everton for £6 million which is a bargain for a player of his quality. He made his debut as a substitute against Aston Villa and thought he’d got off to a great start but his headed goal was disallowed for offside. In his first start for the club he scored twice and set up another two goals in a 5-0 win over Leyton Orient in the League Cup. A number of injuries slowed his progress but he ended the season very well and scored twice in David Moyes’ final home game against West Ham.
Mirallas Everton
Under Roberto Martinez he has further developed his game and although the goals are not as easy to come by as his time in Greece, he is showing other qualities of his game. In the 2013-14 season he created 61 chances for his teammates which was more than any other Everton player and managed to score eight times from 32 games.

The final word can go to Roberto Martinez. “His game has gone from strength to strength and the way he had started the season had been really positive. Last season he had a very important role. He was scoring goals and being a real threat in everything we do going forward. We have plenty games for him to be as influential.”

27th September – Lloyd Sam

A lot of high profile players have gone over to America in recent years but there are others that have went over from England and made a big impression, like Lloyd Sam.

The 30 year old plays alongside world superstars such as Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill as well as others that have played in England such as Bobby Convey, Richard Eckersley and Bradley Wright-Phillips. So Sam will certainly feel at home at the New York Red Bulls and is known as someone that can use his pace and direct running to create chances for his teammates and it is no surprise to see him setting up a lot of goals.

Sam started his career at Charlton Athletic and became a professional in 2003 at the age of 18. He began to impress in the youth team and was called up to the first team squad for a game against Arsenal but unfortunately did not get on the pitch. He then went out on loan to get some more first team experience and joined Leyton Orient in 2004 and played 10 times for the club before returning to Charlton and making his debut for them on the final day of the 2004-05 season against Crystal Palace.
Sam CA
His opportunities were still limited and after playing just twice in the following season, he went out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday and Southend United during the 2006-07 season. Sam did also play seven times in the Premier League that season but unfortunately Charlton were relegated but this meant that the winger was now going to get a chance in the first team on a regular basis.

At the start of the season he was a bright spot for Charlton and scored his first professional goal against Stockport County in the League Cup. After this the club began to struggle and after missing out on promotion they started to fall down the table and were relegated once more at the end of the 2008-09 season. They narrowly missed out on a return to the Championship with Sam playing 43 league games as they lost in the playoff semi finals against Swindon Town.

After not being offered a new contract he joined Leeds United on a free transfer on the 9th July 2010 but he did not make a great start as he gave away a penalty on his debut against Derby County in a 2-1 defeat. However, in the next league game he scored against Nottingham Forest and also received the man of the match for his performance. He then went on to score against Millwall on 21st August but this positive start did not last as Sam suffered several niggling injuries which kept him out of action for long periods.
LEEDS UNITED V LINCOLN CITY CARLING CUP  10/8/2010
He only featured in 18 league games for Leeds in his first season and did extra work in preseason to get himself fit for the new season and in the friendly matches he provided a lot of assists and topped it off by scoring in a 3-1 win over Newcastle United. This was still not good enough to get him a regular place in the side and on the 14th March 2012 joined Notts County on loan for the rest of the season and scored five goals in 10 games, including a hatrick against Yeovil Town in a 3-1 win.

When his contract came to an end at Leeds he signed for New York Red Bulls on the 16th August 2012 and impressed in his first five games before and injury ruled him out for the rest of the season. He has now recovered from this and helped the club win its first ever Supporters’ Shield in 2013, scoring the third goal in a 5-2 win over Chicago Fire.
Lloyd Sam
The final word can go to the Notts County manager that brought him in on loan Keith Curle. “I like Lloyd. It took him a bit of time to settle at first, but in the end he was enjoying it and was playing free flowing, entertaining, attacking football. Lloyd just keeps getting better and better.”

4th September – Richard Garcia

Hull City have had a very good summer transfer window but it wasn’t long ago that they had to rely on free transfers and not big name players.

Richard Garcia is 33 today and is one of the players that helped get Hull back into the top divisions and get the fans excited about the club once again. Garcia may not have been the best player in the world but he definitely worked hard for the side. The fans may have a lot to look forward to now but it is only because of the hard work of the players that came before that allowed this to happen.

Garcia started his career at West Ham signing his first professional contract in 1998. He scored in every round of West Ham’s run to the Youth Cup final as they won the trophy. In August 2000 he was ready for first team football and was loaned out to Leyton Orient where he played 21 times and scored four goals. After an injury to his knee ligaments he returned to his parent club and made his debut for them in a League Cup match away to Reading in September 2001.

After West Ham were relegated from the Premier League, Garcia was expecting more game time but this didn’t happen and after just 22 games for the club he joined Colchester United in 2004. In his first season he scored six goals in 30 appearances but it was in the following campaign that he showed his true potential, helping Colchester gain promotion to the Championship and also reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup. A knee injury ended his season in March but he scored Colchester’s first goal in the 2006-07 season against Birmingham City on the opening day of the new Championship season.
Garcia CU
Colchester were the surprise package and pushed for a place in the playoffs but Garcia’s seven goals in 36 games was just not good enough to secure them a place in the top six. At the end of the season Garcia had played 96 games in all competitions and scored 21 goals and despite being offered a new contract decided to join Hull City.

He made his league debut for Hull against Plymouth Argyle and scored his first goal in the following game against Crewe. In his first season Garcia played a leading role in the club’s promotion push and they secured their place in the Premier League after defeating Bristol City in the Playoff final. He was also awarded the goal of the season award after hitting a 35 yard screamer against Burnley in March 2008.
Hull City v Stoke 08 November 2009
In the Premier League Garcia only took two games to score his first goal of the season, securing a point away to Blackburn Rovers, however this would turn out to be his only goal in the top flight in two seasons and had to wait until the 12th November to score again, when he scored against Preston in a 2-0 win back in the Championship. After injuries disrupted the rest of his time at the club he left after 128 games and returned to his homeland of Australia.
Garcia MH
On the 23rd August 2012 Garcia joined Melbourne Heart and stayed for one season, scoring six times in just 24 games but decided to move to Sydney FC in the next summer where he had a similar record, 6 goals in 23 games. But once again he only spent one season at the club and joined Minnesota United on the 5th May 2014 but after just two appearances he left and recently joined Perth Glory on a two year contract.

The final word can go to Melbourne Heart head coach John Aloisi. “Richard can play a number of roles. The experience he possesses isn’t something you encounter too often. He will assume a leadership role on the pitch and will be an important guide for our younger players.”

18th July – Lee Barnard

Lee Barnard has been a good goalscorer in the Football League over the years and he will be hoping to rediscover that form next season to help Southend United get promoted.

It is his second spell at Southend and if it can be anywhere near as good as his first spell then the club will certainly go close to achieving their targets under Phil Brown. Barnard started his career at Tottenham Hotspur but made his first league appearances while out on loan at Exeter City but he had to wait until a loan spell at Stevenage Borough where he would score his first goal against Shrewsbury Town. Further loan spells at Leyton Orient and Northampton Town followed but he was still only young and making his way in the game.

He eventually made his debut for Spurs on the 17th April 2006 in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United after coming on as a substitute in the 77th minute and also came on the following week against Bolton Wanderers. At the start of the next season he joined Crewe Alexandra for five months and scored on his debut against Huddersfield Town. However, he suffered an injury in late October and returned to his parent club after 10 league games and three goals.

On the 25th January 2008 Barnard joined Southend on a permanent deal and he made his debut that night against Barnsley in the FA Cup after coming on as a substitute. He made his full debut a few days later against Leeds United and scored the only goal of the game after a free kick had hit the post. Before the end of the season he managed to score another nine goals, including an injury time winner against Carlisle United.
Barnard Southend
The 2008-09 season was not quite as good as the striker would have hoped, however he did still manage to get to double figures but he could have got a lot more had it not been for injuries. The next season started much better with him getting four goals in the first three games and this included his first professional hatrick against Leyton Orient. Over the next few months he scored last minute winners against Gillingham and MK Dons and also scored a brace against Hartlepool United which helped his team win 3-2 after they had been 2-0 down. He scored once more for the club in his first spell which took him to 37 goals in 85 games.

Barnard signed for Southampton in January 2010 and he scored his first two goals for the club in a 2-0 win over Norwich City and a week later he scored another two goals against Walsall and then three days later he scored in a 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town. The 2010-11 was also successful as he scored 16 goals for the club but missed the last few weeks of the season through injury.
Barnard Soton
Unfortunately he didn’t get many more chances at Southampton but enjoyed loan spells at Bournemouth, Oldham Athletic and Southend. After his contract expired at Southampton he rejoined Southend on a permanent deal.
Barnard Bournemouth
The final word can go to Southend manager Phil Brown. “Hopefully we can get him back playing how he was during his first spell with the club. He’s an out and out striker who knows where the goal is, so I’m sure he can rediscover that sort of form.”