22nd July – Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt will go down in history as one of those players that put his teams needs before his own as he played in many different positions and performed admirably.

Kuyt started his career at Dutch side Quick Boys and after some impressive performances he was signed by Utrecht at the age of 18. He started his time there on the wing but during the 2002-03 season he was used a striker and scored 20 league goals and also scored in the KNVB Cup final.

Kuyt Utrecht

This convinced Feyenoord to sign Kuyt and he was an instant success, scoring 20 goals in his first season and in the opening game of the 2004-05 season he scored his first hatrick against De Graafschap. He would continue his good form and 29 goals meant he finished as the Eredivisie top scorer. More goals followed but even more remarkably during his seven seasons at the club he only missed five games. But on 18th August 2006 he joined Liverpool.

Kuyt Feyenoord

The fans quickly took to him and would score his first goal for the club against Newcastle United. He played a key role in helping the team reach the Champions League final and scored in it but unfortunately they were defeated by Milan. The second season was a little more difficult but he did score twice against Everton. It was during this time that he was more often than not played on the right wing.

He had also started to become known as a big game player and would pop up with some very important goals. During the 2008-09 season he had his best return of 15 goals as the team finished second. By the end of the next season, Everton fans were getting sick of Kuyt as he scored in both fixtures and in the second game his goal was his 50th for the club.

Once again he showed why the Liverpool fans loved him by scoring a hatrick against Manchester United in a 3-1 win and would later become the first player since John Aldridge to score in five consecutive games. He would finish the season as the club’s top scorer but the following campaign saw him have less of an impact but he did become only the fifth player to score 50 goals for Liverpool in the Premier League.

Kuyt Liverpool

After 208 league games and 51 goals he joined Fenerbahce in 2012. He managed to score on his league debut and had three successful years at the club, scoring 37 times but it was time for him to return home and he rejoined Feyenoord. He continued to score goals but even more remarkably he led them to their first Eredivise title since 1999 and he scored a hatrick to clinch the title.

The final word can go to Kenny Dalglish. “Dirk is the Liverpool player of choice. He never gives up, fights with everything and he is simply a good footballer. He scores goals and often in major competitions or at crucial moments.”

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10th July – Ludovic Giuly

Ludovic Giuly was a key part in Barcelona’s rise to dominance and maybe doesn’t quite get the credit he undoubtedly deserves.

The winger will never be put in the same category as other Barcelona stars such as Ronaldinho or Lionel Messi but he certainly helped the club reach the very top of European football.

Giuly started his career at Lyon, at the age of 18, against Cannes in 1995 and quickly became a fan favourite and was lovingly known as ‘the magic elf’ due to his height. His best season for the club was the 1996-97 season when he scored 17 times but he didn’t quite keep up these stats and moved on to Monaco in January 1998.

Giuly Monaco

It took him till the final day of the season to score his first goal but in the following campaign he was a key figure in helping the club win Ligue 1. However, the club had a terrible time defending the title and eventually finished 11th but Giuly did manage to score seven times.

An injury kept him out of most of the 2001-02 season as well as the World Cup but he returned to help the club win the Coupe De la Ligue and also reach the final of the Champions League which he unfortunately suffered an injury and many believe that this cost them. His performances though had caught the attention of others and in June 2004 Barcelona signed him.

Giuly Barca

He would score on his debut and end the campaign as the club’s second top scorer as well as lifting the La Liga trophy. The following season they also won the league title and also the Champions League with Giuly’s big moment coming in the semi final as he scored the only goal against Milan. Despite this he could not hold a place in the team in the 2006-07 season and it was time to move.

Italian side Roma picked him up but this move only lasted one season and he would move on to PSG on the 18th July 2008. The club were not in a good place and they really struggled during his three year spell at the club with disappointing league finishing positions but he did help them win the Coupe de France.

Giuly PSG.jpg

After this he returned to Monaco, who at the time were in Ligue 2, he was expected to help the club return to the top flight but it was another tough spell for him and after one season he was frozen out of the starting 11 so he was allowed to join Lorient on a free transfer. This would be his last season and after 727 career appearances Giuly announced his retirement.

The final word can go to former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard. “I don’t have a lot of things to teach Ludo. He can be a provider, but one of his great qualities is that he can score goals. It would be a shame to condemn him to play only on the flank.”

23rd June – Patrick Vieira

With three Premier League winners medals and another four Serie A title to his name, Patrick Vieira has certainly had a career to remember and now at the age of 38 he is happy leading Manchester City’s reserve team.

The midfielder dominated most players that came up against him and he had some of the best battles ever seen in the Premier League whenever he stepped on the pitch against Roy Keane and is considered one of the greatest rivalries of the last 20 years.

Vieira was always destined for greatness it seemed and had leadership qualities from a young age after he began his career at French club Cannes, making his debut at the age of just 17 and then captaining the side just two years later. After 49 league appearances for the club, a lot of the bigger European teams were looking to sign him and he eventually went to Milan. However, it was not easy for him and he only played twice in the league before joining Arsenal in August 1996.
Vieira Cannnes
He made his debut as a substitute against Sheffield Wednesday and then made his full debut three days later against Middlesbrough. His performances quickly made him a favourite among the fans and also his own players who could see the quality that he was bringing to the side and something different that they were previously lacking. He finished his first season with 38 appearances in all competitions but it would be the next year that really kick started his career.

Alongside Emmanuel Petit there was arguably no better central midfield partnership in the league as they were both instrumental in winning both the Premier League and the FA Cup. Vieira scored his first goal of the season in an important victory over Manchester United and although he started picking up a lot of bookings and red cards in the middle part of the season, when he was really needed he was there and towards the end of the season he only picked up one more booking.

However, over the next few seasons Arsenal struggled to win trophies and this was not helped by Vieira’s poor disciplinary problems and at the start of the 2000-01 season he was sent off twice in the space of 72 hours. Although he scored twice against Charlton Athletic in his next match, there was a lot of speculation he was about to leave the club, however he decided to stay.
Vieira Arsenal
Success finally returned for both club and player in the 2001-02 season after they once again won the League and FA Cup double and at the end of the season Vieira was named the new Arsenal captain after Tony Adams left the club. After being handed the armband his performances got even better and was one of the key players in the ‘Invincible’ team of the 2003-04. His next taste of success would be the FA Cup in 2005 where with his final touch for the club he scored the winning penalty against Manchester United after the game had finished 0-0.

In July 2005 Vieira signed for Juventus and made his debut against Chievo. Although he helped the club win Serie A, it was later stripped from them because of the match fixing scandal but the defining moment of his time was when he came up against Arsenal and a young Cesc Fabregas who had replaced him in the team in the Champions League. Arsenal went on to win the tie and send Juventus out and this must have been tough for Vieira to take.

After Juventus were relegated to Serie B, Vieira left to join Inter Milan and helped the club to win the next three Serie A titles. However, towards the end of his time at the club he began to feature less and was on the move in the January transfer window of 2010.
Vieira Inter
The French man returned to England and joined up with his former Inter manager Roberto Mancini at Manchester City. He didn’t get off to a great start though as on his debut they lost to Hull City. Three days later he made his full debut in a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers and set up the first goal for Emmanuel Adebayor and went on to score his first goal later in the season against Burnley in a 6-1 win and his performances convinced the manager enough to give him a new one year contract. In his final season he was very influential in the club’s FA Cup success as he scored three times in the competition. He retired soon after and ended his career with 651 club appearances and 58 goals.

The final word can go to Roberto Mancini. “Patrick is a world class midfielder with a winner’s mentality and will fit into this group very well. Patrick is one of the great players of his era with almost every honour in the game against his name.”

18th June – Fabio Capello

Fabio Capello is statistically the best manager England have ever had but his time in charge was seen as a failure by most as he made some interesting decisions and was not too keen to learn the language either.

There is no doubting that he is a manager of great quality and gained a lot of respect but he did not perform well at the 2010 World Cup and it was one of the worst times to be an England fan. He is now at his second World Cup as a manager with Russia and he must have had the feeling of déjà vu as his keeper made a terrible mistake in the first game just as Rob Green did against USA in 2010.

As a player Capello turned out for SPAL, Roma, Juventus and Milan and won the Serie A title four times and was capped 32 times by Italy between the years of 1972 and 1978. He ended his playing career after 341 league games and 45 goals which was a decent record for a holding midfielder.
After retiring as a player he became a youth coach at Milan throughout the 1980s and helped develop two of the best defenders the country has ever seen in Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta. His first taste of management also came at Milan when he led the club for the last six games of the 1986-87 season but he was not giving the job permanently despite qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
Capello Juve
He did eventually get given the job in June 1991 and he played a slightly more attacking game than the previous manager that worked well and they went on to win the title at the end of his first season in charge. They were once again the best team in Italy in the following season and also had success on the European stage as they reached the Champions League final, however they lost 1-0 against Marseille. During this period they went 58 league games unbeaten from the 19th May 1991 to 21st March 1993.

The following season he did lead the club to Champions League glory as they beat Barcelona 4-0 in the final. He went on to reach another Champions League final and win another Serie A title before leaving for Real Madrid in 1996. In Spain it was strange for Capello as he won the league title but he was not a favourite of the fans who did not like his style and after a falling out with chairman Lorenzo Sanz he left the club after just one season.

Capello then returned to Milan but this spell was nowhere near as successful as the team struggled and they finished in 10th place as they only won 11 league games all season and had to endure big defeats to rivals Juventus and Roma. After being sacked by Milan he took some time away from the game but returned in 1999 to manage Roma where he had been a player.

He had a slightly disappointing start to his time there but in 2001 he rediscovered the golden touch as he led the club to the title even though earlier in the season the fans had called for him to resign and he had fallen out with a number of players at the club. But Roma won their first major honour in a decade and only the third title of their history. Unfortunately they had to settle for second place in the following season and they would not win another trophy under Capello.
Capello Roma
Despite being highly critical of the way the club had been run in the past, the Italian joined Juventus and he helped them win the Serie A title in both 2005 and 2006 however the club were later stripped of these because of the match fixing scandals. During the investigations of these scandals Capello left for a second spell at Real Madrid and once again the fans were not happy with his style of play and had more fallings out with high profile players and in March they were knocked out of the Champions League and were struggling in fourth place, six points behind Barcelona. However, on the last day of the season Madrid beat Mallorca 3-1 at home which meant that Real won the league. Despite winning the league Capello was sacked.

On the 14th December the Italian was appointed England manager and he qualified comfortably for both the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012. However he would not be in charge during the European Championships as he resigned after the FA removed the captaincy from John Terry.
Capello Eng
He is now in charge of Russia and will most likely stay there until after the 2018 World Cup which is being held in their country.

The final word can go to the FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick. “Fabio is a winner. His record over the last decades speaks for itself. At every club he has managed, Fabio has won the league title. Sir Trevor Brooking and I were left in no doubt of his passion and commitment to bring that success to the England team.”