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.”

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2nd July – Marc-Antoine Fortune

Marc-Antoine Fortune is currently stuck on 98 professional career goals and will be hoping that one more team gives him a chance to reach 100..

The forward started his career at French lower league side Angouleme where he broke into the side during the 1999-00 season, scoring three times in 10 appearances. He helped the club reach the third tier of French football and he was linked with moves to Ligue 1 sides. In 2002, Lille took a chance on Fortune.

While at the club he found himself playing out of position on the left wing and struggled with injuries to make a real impact. After just one season, Fortune joined Ligue 2 side Rouen on loan. He ended the season with 10 goals and for a third summer in a row he was on the move.

Stade Brest had a decent season with Fortune scoring 10 goals in 33 games and finishing 9th in Ligue 2. It looked as though he had settled, however when Eredivisie side Utrecht showed interest, Fortune could not turn down the opportunity. While in Holland, Fortune struggled to settle and the death of David Di Tommaso meant he could not show his talent.

Before his teammate died he had been looking quite impressive but after 13 goals in 56 appearances, he felt he needed to return to France. In January 2007, Nancy signed the striker and began really well, scoring six goals in 17 league games. After this he was largely used as an impact substitute and began to feel frustrated so in January 2009 he joined West Brom.

MAF Nancy

He became a fan favourite and scored on his debut in a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough and despite only playing half a season he was named the Supporters Player of the Year. He finished his loan spell with five goals and convinced Celtic to buy him.

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After a good start with goals against St Johnstone and Rapid Vienna in the Europa League it turned sour, especially after Tony Mowbray was replaced by Neil Lennon so at the start of the 2010-11 season he returned to West Brom. He spent a further three seasons at West Brom, scoring nine goals as the club battled to stay in the Premier League. During this time, he also had a loan spell at Doncaster Rovers.

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His next move was to Wigan Athletic and he featured heavily during their Europa League campaign and ended the season with 49 appearances. He lasted one more season and signed a one year deal for Coventry City. After four goals in 25 games he was on the move again to Southend United following a successful trial. Last season he scored four goals.

The final word can go to former Celtic and West Brom manager Tony Mowbray. “Marc is a quality player and he was a privilege to work with. Some of his play in the second half of the season was phenomenal, you can see the impact he made. He is a team player.”

6th February – Per Frandsen

Per Frandsen is a player that will be very familiar to fans of Bolton Wanderers because he put in some brilliant performances for the club and scored some sublime goals.

The midfielder is now 45 and will go down as one of the most important players in Bolton’s recent history as he helped them gain promotion to the Premier League and also produced some solid performances to keep them in the top flight. He was a midfielder that could create a lot from the centre of the pitch and could certainly score some cracking goals, including one against Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2002-03 season which just highlighted everything about his game.

Frandsen started his career in his native Denmark with B 1903 and made an instant impact with the club. He would go on to finish as the third best goalscorer of the 1990 Danish First Division and ended his time at the club with 15 goals in just 25 league games which is a very good record for any player. In November 1990 he made the move to France and joined Lille for a club record fee. He spent four years with Lille and he was very consistent despite still being quite young and inexperienced and took to a new style of football very quickly. During his time at the club he scored 19 league goals in 109 games but they could not keep hold of their promising midfielder because of financial difficulties and he returned to Denmark, signing for Copenhagen.

Frandsen Lille

He acknowledged this would only be a temporary move and after helping the club lift the Danish Cup in 1995, he moved to Bolton Wanderers for £1.25 million in August 1996. He made his debut in a 1-1 draw against Port Vale and went on to score his first goal for the club in the next game against Manchester City. It was during this time that he was being linked with moves to the Premier League as he was considered one of the best to play outside of the top flight. But instead he stayed with Bolton and helped them win promotion to the Premier League. Despite this being followed by relegation he was one of the bright spots in the team.

Frandsen Copenhagen

In September 1999 he made the move to Blackburn Rovers for £1.75 million and the Bolton manager Colin Todd resigned because he was against the decision to sell the midfielder. Unfortunately for Frandsen it didn’t work out for him at Ewood Park and after just one season he returned to Bolton for £1.6 million. His second spell was also very good and he was very good with the younger players in the squad, particularly Kevin Nolan who has stated how important he has been in his career.

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In 2004 he was released by Bolton after 304 first team games and 38 goals. Before he retired from the game because of a cruciate ligament injury he went on to help Wigan Athletic gain promotion to the Premier League, grabbing a goal against Brighton.

The final word can go to Sam Allardyce. “I have ultimate respect for him. Per will go down in Bolton folklore. Everyone at the club has appreciated what he has done for us. Eight years is a long time in any career and Per has had eight great years at the club.”

1st February – Darren Fletcher

Darren Fletcher is celebrating his birthday today but he must have lots on mind as his long career at Manchester United seems to be over and he will have some tough decisions to make over the next few days.

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The 31 year old should be in the best years of his career but unfortunately injuries and other problems have stopped him from getting on the pitch in recent seasons. Fletcher has been linked with West Ham and West Brom as well as many other teams in the last few weeks so it will be interesting to see where he ends up but he could definitely add something to a lot of teams.

Fletcher joined Manchester United as an 11 year old and would sign his first professional contract with the club on his 17th birthday and helped the reserve team win the Manchester Senior Cup during the 1999-00 season. However, his progress was halted by injuries and he had to wait until the 12th March 2003 to make his first team debut in a Champions League game against Basel. During the following campaign he began to get more opportunities and even started in the FA Cup final win over Millwall in May 2004. But he was still in and out of the team and just couldn’t make the central midfield position his own, and had to wait until the 1st January 2005 to score his professional goal in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.

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After allegedly being criticised by Roy Keane in a TV interview in October 2005, Fletcher began to put in more commanding performances from then on and was always on the team sheet for the important games. On the 6th November he scored the only goal in a win over Chelsea which put to an end their 40 game unbeaten run.

Over the next two seasons he struggled to break into the team again after further signings were made but he did manage to pick up a Champions League winners medal at the end of the 2007-08 season. In the opening months of the following season he was given more chances in the team and scored three times. Arguably the biggest moment of his career came in the semi final of the Champions League against Arsenal where he was sent off and would miss the final. This made many realise how important he was to the team. Inter manager at the time Jose Mourinho said. “Fletcher is more important than people think. His work in midfield, especially in the midfield ‘wars’, in crucial matches is very important. Man United will miss his pace and aggression in defensive actions: he ‘eats’ opponents in defensive transition”

The 2009-10 saw Fletcher consolidate his place in the team and was very influential in one of the most dramatic Manchester Derbies as he scored twice in 4-3 win over City. During the campaign he was also named as the club’s vice captain and for his performances he was even named in the PFA Team of the Year.

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After this ulcerative colitis kept him out of action for long spells and it is good to see him starting to get his career back on track and if he can join a club where he will play regular football then he will definitely be a consistent player and someone that will pass on a lot of experience to the younger players. He has played 342 times for Manchester United during some of their most successful years which just shows how good of a player he is.

The final word can go to Sir Alex Ferguson. “There isn’t a nicer boy at the club and he’s a star professional. He’s a fantastic character, a brilliant boy, and he’ll does his best as he always does. He has started sitting in the front of the back four and that could be his role in the future.”

3rd November – Stevie May

Sheffield Wednesday have made a good start to the season but they have struggled to put the ball in net and they will be hoping that Stevie May can find his feet in the Championship soon.

They have the joint best defensive record in the division and if only they could have scored more goals then they would have been closer to the top of the league than they currently are. May will need time to adapt to the English game but if the chances fall his way then he will surely hit the back of the net on a regular basis.

The 22 year old started his career at St Johnstone and made his debut as a 16 year old on the 11th May 2009 against Airdrie United and even managed to score. This convinced the club to give him a new contract but did not make an appearance in the following season as he needed extra time to develop. He had to wait until a game against Hearts on the 13th November 2010 to make his next appearance and would then start his first game against Motherwell on the 26th January 2011. In total he played 22 games over the course of the season and scored twice in a 2-0 win over Hamilton.
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At the start of the 2011-12 season he could not break into the first team and joined Alloa Athletic on loan and was instrumental in the club winning the Scottish Third Division. He scored a hatrick against East Stirlingshire in January 2012 and was in fantastic form for the rest of the season. Later in the season he would score four times against Elgin City to secure the title for Alloa and was then named the SFL Third Division Player of the Season after 19 goals in 22 games. This also led to him being given an extended contract at his parent club.

But it did not secure him a first team place at St Johnstone and he once again went out on loan. This time to First Division side Hamilton. After a slightly slow start he found his feet in the higher division and began to score goals for fun, including hatricks in consecutive games in April 2013 against Airdrieonians and Livingston. At the end of the season he won more personal awards after scoring 26 goals in just 35 games. This form finally convinced his parent club to give him a chance in their first team.
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May started the season well with four goals in the first nine league games and a winner over Rosenborg in the Europa League. The following month, May won the October SPL Player of the Month after scoring five times in four games. His goalscoring did not slow as he hit two hatricks in the space of three weeks against Dundee United and then Hearts. May’s 19th and 20th goals of the season were arguably his most important as they were in the Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen which secured the club’s place in their first ever final. They would go on to lift the trophy with May providing the assist for former Sheffield Wednesday favourite Steven MacLean. May finished the season with 27 goals in all competitions and he was linked with moves away from the club all summer, however he played in the early rounds of the Europa League, scoring against Luzern and Spartak Trnava.

On the 9th August 2014, the striker signed for Sheffield Wednesday and scored his first goal for the club against Middlesbrough on the 23rd August. He would go on to also score against Birmingham City and Reading in the following weeks but now he has to push on and grab more goals for the side.
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The final word can go to Sheffield Wednesday manager Stuart Gray. “We’ve got to create chances for him. He’s got a calmness in the 18 yard box where he can pick out the corners. I’ve got every confidence he will convert them. He’s very keen to get into the full Scotland squad.”

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.
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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.
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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.”

27th October – Rhys Weston

Rhys Weston may not be the most recognisable name but he has had a very interesting career and if it wasn’t for injuries he may have played at a higher level for a prolonged period of time.

The defender will be fondly remembered by Cardiff City fans as he helped them climb from the bottom division of the Football League to the Championship and even took a pay cut in 2005 to help the club. The 34 year old can also say that he played at the highest level as he featured seven times for Wales between the years of 2000 and 2005.

Now 34 he doesn’t have a club but has played in a few different countries and experienced some different cultures so he can at least take that from his career. Weston started his career at Arsenal and made his debut on the 30th November 1999 in a League Cup game against Middlesbrough after coming on as a substitute. Later in the season he would go on to make his only top flight appearance as he started the final game against Newcastle United on the 14th May 2000.

In total he played three times for Arsenal before joining Cardiff in November 2000 for £300,000. He made his debut in a 3-2 win over Lincoln City and would go on to play another 31 times as the club gained promotion to Division Two after finishing 2nd. In the following season Weston was a more important member of the team and showed his quality in the 43 games he played, unfortunately the club missed out on back to back promotions after being beaten in the playoffs by Stoke City. The 2002-03 season was successful for the player and the club as they managed to gain promotion after beating QPR 1-0 in the playoff final. During the season Weston also scored his first professional goal after scoring in a 4-0 win over Tranmere Rovers on the 26th October.
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Despite adapting well to the First Division, Weston struggled with injuries and would only play 24 times after suffering a knee injury and then damaging cartilage in his other knee in March 2004. In the following campaign he returned to his consistent self but again his season was ended by injury. At the end of the season he accepted a substantial reduction in his wages and was placed on the transfer list by new manager Dave Jones but still managed to play 30 times during the 2005-06 season. However, he was left out of the club’s pre-season tour and was released.

Weston then joined Norwegian side Viking but his only match for the club lasted 12 minutes as he dislocated his shoulder. Four days later the manager was sacked and the incoming manager could not speak English so Weston returned to the UK. In February 2007 Weston signed for Port Vale. He would go onto play 15 games for the club before being released. On the 16th July 2007 Weston signed for Walsall and went on to play 50 games for the club during the 2007-08 season earning himself a new deal. He would continue to be a consistent player but at the end of the 2009-10 manager Chris Hutchings decided not to give him a contract and after 111 games he joined Dundee.
Weston Walsall
He spent two seasons at the Scottish side and in both seasons they finished 2nd in Division One but at the end of his contract he decided to join Icelandic side KR Reykjavik. Due to financial problems he left the club after just 16 appearances and made the move to Malaysia to sign for Sabah FA. He only played six times and joined AFC Wimbledon on the 7th August 2013. Once again he did not get much game time and after a loan spell at Sutton United he was not offered a new contract.
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The final word can go to Richard Money. “Rhys has become an important member of the team. His performances have become more and more consistent as the season has progressed and we hope that he will continue to be an important player for Walsall.”