23rd August – Carlos Cuellar

Carlos Cuellar is looking to reach over 500 appearances in the next few months in a career that has took him to many different countries.

The defender, who played a lot in the centre of defence but could also operate in either full back position was a solid and dependable player, who was well liked at most of his clubs.

Cuellar started his career at Numancia, but got his first taste of first team football on loan at CD Calahorra in Spain, playing 27 times and scoring one goal. On his return to his parent club he made his debut against Xerez on the 23rd September 2001. Later in the campaign he scored his first goal against Racing.

He became first choice during the next season and afterwards signed for La Liga side Osasuna on the 29th August 2003. In his first two seasons he didn’t play as much as he would have liked but during the 2005-06 season he played 31 times as the club reached the Copa Del Rey final and finished fourth in the table, helping them qualify for the Champions League. After they dropped out of the competition into the UEFA Cup, Cuellar played seven times as they reached the semi final and during the tournament scored twice against Bayer Leverkusen.

Cuellar Osasuna

This turned out to be his last season at the club as he joined Rangers on the 5th July 2007. He was an instant success and was even named the Scottish Premier League Player of the Month in August and would score his first goal on the 1st September against Gretna. At the end of the season he was named the Scottish Premier League Player of the Year and played in a club record 65 games in a single season.

Cuellar Rangers

However, this would be his only one at Rangers as he signed for Aston Villa and had to wait until October to make his first start at right back, where he spent most of his time at the club. The 2009-10 season was his only campaign as a first choice player and in his four seasons he played 120 times. At the end of his contract he was released and signed for former Villa manager Martin O’Neill at Sunderland.

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He made his debut in a 0-0 draw against Arsenal and would go on to play a further 27 times, scoring once against Fulham. After his contracte expired, he signed for Norwich City and helped them get promoted back to the Premier League, however he was released a few days later and returned to Spain signing for Almeria.

Since then he has not stayed anywhere for long turning out for Maccabi Petah Tikva, Ironi Kiyat Shmona and has just recently signed for Beitar Jerusalem.

The final word can go to Martin O’Neill. “Carlos is brave and he is aggressive. I like his qualities and I always have done. He has a big heart. Sometimes Carlos doesn’t mind playing out of position if it means he plays.”

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19th July – Luke Young

Luke Young was one of the most consistent right backs during the early to mid 2000s and many believe he should have won more England caps.

The right back did play seven times for England and had it not been for Gary Neville and the fact that he played for teams that weren’t challenging for the title then he would have surely gained more. He broke through at a time when a lot of players were overlooked not because of their quality but the team they played for.

Young started his career at Tottenham Hotspur and made his debut on the 28th November 1998 against West Ham at centre back. He featured a lot in the cup competitions that season, helping his side win the League Cup and reach the semi final of the FA Cup. He featured fairly regularly in his three years at the club, playing 76 games in all competitions but it was time to move on.

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Charlton Athletic signed Young on the 25th July 2001 for £3million and made his debut on the opening day in a 2-1 defeat to Everton. In his first season at the club, funnily he played alongside Mark Fish, Jonathan Fortune and Jorge Costa meaning it came up on the starting lineups as Young Fish Costa Fortune. He stayed as first choice through his time at the club and helped them defy expectations and stay in the Premier League for five years until relegation at the end of the 2006-07 season.

Young CA

While at Charlton, Young scored his first professional goal in August 2004 in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa and followed it up soon after with another against Birmingham City. At the end of this campaign he was named their Player of the Year. But after relegation he moved on to Middlesbrough. His spell at the club only lasted one season but he did manage one goal against Tottenham Hotspur.

On the 7th August 2008 Young transferred to Aston Villa. He quickly became a favourite at Villa Park due to his solid performances, playing at both right and left back. Despite this he found himself out of favour under Martin O’Neill and it looked as though he would be leaving for Liverpool as the two clubs agreed a fee, however Young turned them down as he didn’t want to be a backup.

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He stayed at Villa until 2011 when he joined QPR and was first choice in his first season but was frozen out of the squad by manager Mark Hughes. Then he suffered injuries and wasn’t even included in their 25 man squad. The last appearance of his career would be his only one outside the top flight as he played against Blackburn Rovers in the Championship.

The final word can go to former Charlton chairman Richard Money. “He is an international and his performances over the last few seasons, including last term when he was club captain, have been excellent. Luke is a key member of our squad.”

13th October – Gabriel Agbonlahor

Gabriel Agbonlahor has made a good start to the new season and will be hoping to recapture the goalscoring form he had in his first few years after breaking through.

The 28 year old has played as both a striker and a winger during his time at Villa Park but this has not stopped him becoming the club’s all time leading Premier League goalscorer and has the record of scoring in 10 consecutive seasons. He has three England caps and some would argue that he should have been given more opportunities.

Agbonlahor came through the ranks at Aston Villa but went out on loan to gain first team experience in 2005 playing for Watford and Sheffield Wednesday before returning to his parent club and making his debut as a 19 year old on the 18th March 2006 against Everton. Villa went on to lose the match 4-1 but Agbonlahor did get his team’s only goal.
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Under new manager Martin O’Neill the striker found himself playing on the wing but played every minute of the campaign until the 10th February 2007. He ended the season with nine Premier League goals. In the following season he started superbly scoring six goals in the first 13 games and became a hero after scoring the winning goal against Birmingham City in the 86th minute. In December 2007 he was named the Player of the Month but he could not keep his goalscoring run going, and finished the season with eleven goals.

On the 15th August 2008 he signed a new four year deal with the club and two days later scored a perfect hatrick against Manchester City. During the season he formed a good partnership with John Carew. But after hitting his 10th goal of the season against Blackburn Rovers, he hit a barren spell where he scored only once in 12 games. At the end of the season he was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Agbonlahor AV
The 2009-10 season was his best in terms of goalscoring as he hit 16 goals. He scored yet another winner against Birmingham on the opening day of the season and also against Manchester United which gave Villa their first win at Old Trafford since 1983. After the resignation of O’Neill, Agbonlahor had to play in different roles and help the team in other ways. His level of performances didn’t drop but his opportunities to score did.

After a fantastic start to the 2011-12 season, where he scored three goals in three games and was named the Player of the Month for August, his form tailed off. Some say it was the pressure of being made the club captain after Stiliyan Petrov had been diagnosed with acute leukaemia but he still wore the armband with pride and it was a tough for everyone at the club and it mustn’t have been easy for him to take on the role in them circumstances.
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When Paul Lambert took over he did not make Agbonlahor permanent captain and the striker had a slow start under the new manager. After 29 games without a goal he finally broke his duck with a strike against Sunderland on the 3rd November 2012. Against the same opposition he scored his record breaking 61st Premier League goal for the club to make him their highest ever goalscorer. Last season though he once again struggled to find the back of the net but he has two goals so far this season and will be hoping he can make it to double figures.

The final word can go to Paul Lambert. “When you have that speed and power then anything is possible, and he is a strong lad, he really is a powerful boy. If he gets a run then you need to bring him down because I don’t think he can be caught.”

3rd September – Scott Carson

Whenever England play at Wembley it must bring back bad memories for goalkeeper Scott Carson as his chances of being England’s number one was ruined in one night.

The game against Croatia will be remembered for England not qualifying for Euro 2008. Carson was at fault for at least one of the goals, however this has not had an effect on his club career as he has always been a very consistent goalkeeper. Now at the age of 29 he will be hoping that he can be a Premier League keeper once again.
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Carson started his career at Leeds United and progressed quickly through their youth ranks and the reserves, making his first team debut in January 2004 after Paul Robinson was sent off against Middlesbrough and he had to come on. Two weeks later he made his full debut against Manchester United and helped them get a 1-1 draw. The goalkeeper played once more against Chelsea.

Despite being offered a new contract at Leeds he decided he wanted to leave the club and Liverpool signed him in January 2005. He signed for the club in the right season as it meant that he picked up a Champions League winners medal even though he only played in one game, the quarter final victory over Juventus.

After only playing nine times for the club in a season and a half he was loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday in March 2006. Carson played a key role in helping Wednesday avoid relegation from the Championship as he kept five clean sheets in his nine appearances. At the end of the season he returned to Liverpool and signed a new contract with the club but was loaned out for the entire 2006-07 season to Charlton Athletic.

On a personal level he had a very good season there as he played in 36 league games (only missing the games against Liverpool) and being voted the Supporters’ Club Player of the Year. However, he could not prevent them from being relegated. Once again he was told he would not be first choice at Liverpool and was loaned out to Aston Villa and only missed three league games in the next season. During the 2007-08 season he managed 11 clean sheets but did also receive the first red card of his career.

After years of being loaned out, Carson left the club permanently in 2008 when he joined West Brom. He had some ups and downs during his time there with him suffering another relegation to the Championship but did help them gain promotion with 15 clean sheets in 43 games. He briefly lost his place during the 2010-11 season but after Roy Hodgson became their new manager he was quickly reinstated as the number one.
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On the 1st July 2011 Carson left West Brom and joined Turkish side Bursapsor for £2 million and was very impressive in his first season, helping them to 8th place and only conceding 35 goals and in his second and final campaign at the club he helped them qualify for the Europa League by finishing in fourth place.
Carson Bursaspor
Wigan Athletic brought him back to England to help them return to the Premier League and in his first year he played 18 times.

The final word can go to Martin O’Neill. “Carson has been doing very well for us. We are very pleased with him. He has shown a bit of strength of character, and that is always encouraging. He is a very strong person and he is staying very focused.”

25th August – Marlon Harewood

Marlon Harewood has been a consistent goalscorer all through his career and now coming towards the end of it the 35 year old is trying to help Hartlepool United achieve their aims.

Although Hartlepool have had a slightly disappointing start to the season they secured their first win of the campaign away to Wimbledon with Harewood scoring the winning goal. If the team are to be successful then it may come down to how effective Harewood can be and that is not just in scoring goals, it will be his experience helping some of the younger players develop.

Harewood started his career at Nottingham Forest and made his debut in 1998 but to gain further first team experience he joined Finnish side Haka on loan and his three goals in 18 games helped them win the league and the Finnish Cup. In the following year he joined Ipswich Town on loan and scored once against Bury in his six appearances before going to become one of the most lethal goalscorers in the Championship with Forest. His best season for the club was 2002-03 as he scored 21 goals and formed a brilliant partnership with David Johnson which helped the club reach the playoffs. After 51 league goals he left for West Ham in November 2003.
Harewood Forest
They paid £500,000 for his services and repaid them in his first full season at the club as he was the top scorer as the team got promoted to the Premier League with 23 goals in all competitions. And he also then played a huge part in keeping them in the top flight with 14 goals in the Premier League, including a hatrick against Aston Villa. He was also a big player in their run to the final of the FA Cup that season and scored the winning goal in the semi final against Middlesbrough.
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His next season was difficult and it was clear that he would be leaving at the end of the season as he was no longer first choice. On the 17th July 2007 he joined Aston Villa for £4 million. His time at Villa was interesting because he was very influential when he was on the pitch but was largely used as a super sub. Despite only playing 23 times he scored five goals in his first season. But he played even less in the following season and joined Wolves on loan. He played five times for the club and failed to score.

His next loan spell was much more successful at Newcastle United as he scored five times in 15 games and helped them secure their place at the top of the table in the early months of the season. At the end of the season he was released by Villa and signed for newly promoted Blackpool. He scored on his debut in a 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic and had a fantastic record in the Premier League scoring five times in just 11 appearances, and strangely he was loaned out to Barnsley for the second half of the season and scored four goals in 10 games.
Harewood Barnsley
On the 8th July 2011 he joined Chinese side Guangzhou R&F and stayed there for half a season, playing 10 games and scoring four goals. The next few seasons were difficult for Harewood as he returned to Nottingham Forest but could not recapture his earlier form and then also to Barnsley where he struggled again and after just one league goal at Bristol City it seemed like his career was coming to an end.

Now at Hartlepool he seems to be enjoying his football again and with him being one of the key members of the squad he will be hoping for a much more successful season than his previous few.

The final word can go to Martin O’Neill. “I couldn’t be more pleased with him. I think he has been really excellent. The crowd have taken to him. Some people come on as a substitute and never get a kick. He has been able to force his way into the game, and make a big impact.”

10th August – Roy Keane

Roy Keane never wanted to be second best on the pitch but now he is second in charge at both Aston Villa and Republic of Ireland.

He may just be using these positions to get himself back into coaching before becoming a manager at another club in the future but he will definitely get the respect of the players that are working under him and this can only be beneficial to Paul Lambert and Martin O’Neill.

Keane’s career started in 1989 with Cobh Ramblers and quickly progressed to the first team and was soon being scouted by teams in England. It was Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest that took a chance and signed him in the summer of 1990 for £47,000.
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Over the next two years he visited Wembley twice but left both times as a loser and with Forest struggling in the league other clubs were interested in his services. Although he was voted the Player of the Season by the Forest fans he could not keep them up and in 1993 he signed for Manchester United for a British record fee of £3.75 million.
Keane NF
He enjoyed a great start to his career there by scoring twice on his home debut and then later scored the winning goal against Manchester City. By the end of the year he helped the club to the Premier League title and broke his Wembley losing streak by winning the FA Cup. The following season was less successful as they lost the title and Keane picked up his first red card for stamping on Gareth Southgate.

In the summer a lot of senior players left the club and Keane was seen as one of the more experienced players and this led to better performances as the club once again won the league and FA Cup double and despite injuries in the following campaign he picked up his third Premier League medal.

At the start of the 1997-98 season he took over as club captain but he missed most of the season because of an incident with Alf-Inge Haaland which led to the Leeds United midfielder accusing him of feigning injury. Keane did not play again that season but returned the following year to captain the side in the treble winning season. Although he missed the final of the Champions League he was inspirational in the semi final against Juventus.

In 1999-2000 Manchester United won the title again and Keane won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award and the Football Writers award. However, things would take a turn in 2001 when he met Haaland on the field once again and got sent off for a blatant knee high foul with Keane later admitting to doing it on purpose and wanting to hurt his opponent.
Keane MU
After coming back from his ban and a hip operation many believed that Keane had come back a different player however he still managed to pick up another Premier League and FA Cup trophy before his unexpected departure in 2005. After 480 appearances and 50 goals in all competitions Keane left for Celtic.

His time at Celtic only lasted six months but he did still help the club win the SPL and the Scottish League Cup. After his retirement he became manager of Sunderland in August 2006 with the club second bottom of the Championship. It was not long before results picked up and at the end of the season Sunderland were champions and Keane was named the Championship Manager of the Year.

After keeping Sunderland in the Premier League, the second season proved tougher and on the 4th December he decided to step down as manager. Keane’s final managerial job to date was at Ipswich Town where he had minimal success and didn’t come close to reaching the playoffs and after just 28 wins in 81 games he was sacked in 2011.

The final word can go to Lambert. “Roy has a great knowledge of football and he’ll be a great asset. As a player, he was one of the most accomplished in the history of the Premier League. I’m really looking forward to working with him and I’m delighted that he’s here.”

1st June – Moustapha Salifou

Moustapha Salifou is a player that not many football fans will remember from his time in the Premier League but he gained cult hero status at Aston Villa and turns 31 today.

Before he even played a game for the first team, the fans already had a song for him and were sang while he sat on the bench. They sang his name to the tune of Daddy Cool by Boney M but it was not just the fans that loved him, it seemed like everyone connected to the club had positive things to say about him. He was constantly praised by staff for helping the younger players in the squad and giving them advice, helping them break into the first team and become better players.
Salifou Togo
The midfielder started his career in his home country of Togo and was labelled the ‘Togolese Zidane’ while he was at AC Merlan and was being linked with moves away from an early age and it was not long before he was an important part of the Togo National team. He eventually left in 2002 for Europe and signed for German side Rot-Weib Oberhausen and played 33 league games for them in a four year spell. While at the club he also went out on loan to French side Stade Brestois who he hoped would sign him permanently. However, this never happened and he ended up in Switzerland at FC Wil.

He only spent one season there but was in good form and scored twice in 23 games and in August 2007 he joined Aston Villa for a small fee. Manager at the time Martin O’Neill was happy with his signing. “He has great determination to succeed at this level and he may well prove to be an excellent asset. There’s a real hunger from him to play, he was really dead keen to come.”

Despite the positive words it was a difficult start for the midfielder because of work permit problems but he eventually made his debut for the reserve team in a 6-0 win over Chelsea in which he created two of his team’s goals. But he had to wait even longer for his first team debut. On the 12th January 2008 he came on as a 90th minute substitute against Reading with the whole of the Holte End chanting his song. He had to wait until March for his next appearance where he also came on as a late substitute against Portsmouth and then made his third appearance in a 4-0 loss against Manchester United.
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Although he hadn’t played much he signed a new one year contract and was given a start in the UEFA Cup against Slavia Prague on the 6th November. He rarely played for the next two seasons and at one point his number was taken off him to be given to new signing Jean Makoun and he was switched from 17 to 37. On the 27th May 2011 he was released by the club after playing just four Premier League games in four seasons.
Salifou Saarbrucken
His next move was back to Germany as he signed for FC Saarbrucken where he played 11 times and scored once against his former club Rot-Weib Oberhausen. After being released he signed for the German side Rosenheim who play in the fourth tier of German football. Last season he played 11 times and provided three assists as well as scoring once.

The final word can go to Gary McAllister who coached him at Aston Villa. “The way its gone he’s not had a great deal of chances, to be perfectly honest. We’ll do everything we can to help him to move on with his career. We’ll do anything he needs with a CV because we can’t fault his effort and the type of person he is. So anything we can do for him, we’ll gladly do it.”