24th October – Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney will divide opinion as he had the potential to become one of the best in the world and some say he has reached that in his career whereas others say that he has failed to live up to expectations.

The striker is 29 and if he doesn’t pick up any serious injuries he will become Manchester United’s all time top scorer and also beat Bobby Charlton’s 49 goals at international level. With 43 goals for England in 99 games it is a good record but he has largely failed in the main competitions which has left England fans more frustrated with him than any other.

He started his career at Everton and made his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in 2002. His breakthrough moment was when he scored a last minute winner against Arsenal on the 19th October and followed this up by scoring the winner against Leeds United. In December he was named BBC’s Young Personality of the Year, scored another winning goal against Blackburn Rovers and then received his first red card against Birmingham City. He ended his first season with eight goals and in the following campaign and he remained very consistent, scoring nine times throughout the season.
Rooney Everton
Rooney signed for Manchester United in August 2004 but had to wait to make his debut and he scored a hatrick in a win over Fenerbahce in the Champions League. Despite scoring 17 goals and being named the PFA Young Player of the Year, the club did not win a trophy. Rooney would go on to win his first trophy in the following season as they beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 in the League Cup final, with him grabbing two. The 2006-07 season was an interesting one for Rooney as he went 10 games without scoring but managed 14 goals and picked up his first Premier League winners medal. In June 2007 he was given the number 10 shirt and despite missing game time in the opening half of the season he recovered to help the club retain the title and also win the Champions League.
England v Ireland - International Friendly
He was never prolific until the 2009-10 season. On the 22nd August 2009 he became the 20th player to score 100 goals for the club when he scored twice in a win over Wigan. During the season he was particularly good at scoring with his head and did this in the final of the League Cup against Aston Villa to help his side win the game. An injury against Bayern Munich slowed him down but he finished the season with 34 goals. After the season there were reports that Rooney wanted to leave but he made a U-turn and signed a new deal.
Despite not hitting the same standard as the previous season he still scored his 100th Premier League goal and helped the team win the title. He returned to his brilliant best in the 2011-12 season and started fantastically, scoring consecutive hatricks in the early weeks against Arsenal and Bolton. By the end of the season he had scored 34 goals.
Rooney MU7
After the signing of Robin Van Persie, many felt that Rooney was no longer the main man and despite them combining well and helping the club win another title, Alex Ferguson revealed that Rooney had handed in a transfer request. New manager David Moyes convinced the striker to stay and he did his best for the manager, scoring 17 goals and providing 10 assists but it was a disappointing season. Under Louis Van Gaal, he was named the club captain and scored on the opening day against Swansea City but a red card against West Ham has put doubt on whether he is the right man for the job.

The final word can go to former captain Peter Schmeichel. “What I really like about Rooney is his attitude towards playing for United. Wherever the manager tells him to play he will do that with a smile on his face. He realises his importance to the team. So I think he’s the obvious choice for the captaincy.”

Advertisements

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.
Agbonlahor AV2
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.
Agbonlahor Eng
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.”

11th October – Seamus Coleman

Seamus Coleman has been one of the best full backs in the Premier League over the last few seasons but unfortunately like a lot of Everton players this year he has suffered from injuries and is one of many in their treatment room.

The 26 year old has always been good going forward but he has improved a lot defensively and although he adds a lot in attack, it is no surprise that when he is in the starting eleven Everton concede less goals and look more solid. David Moyes give him a chance but it has been Roberto Martinez that has developed his talent and now he is being linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

After initially starting out as a Gaelic Footballer, he made the move to professional football and signed for Sligo Rovers. He made his debut against Derry City in October 2006 after coming on as a substitute. He did not have an easy start as manager Rob McDonald did not rate him and thought he should move down a division but when he was sacked and replaced with Paul Cook, the new manager gave Coleman a lot of praise and the defender began to flourish.
Coleman SR
In total he made 60 appearances for the club, scoring once against Bray Wanderers in May 2008 before moving on to Everton in January 2009 for the very small fee of £60,000. Even though he had not kicked a ball for the club, his career could have been over but surgery saved it and he eventually made his debut in the Europa League against Benfica, unfortunately they went on to lose the game 5-0.

His Premier League debut was a much better experience, after coming on as a substitute he helped set up both goals in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur and was awarded the man of the match at the end of the game. Despite this he still struggled to get first team opportunities and went out on loan to Blackpool to help them in their promotion push in March 2010. In his 12 game spell, including the playoff final win over Cardiff City 3-2, he scored once in a 4-2 away win against Scunthorpe United. During his time out on loan he also signed a new four year deal with his parent club.
Coleman Blackpool
The following season he broke into the Everton side and was originally used as a right winger and scored his first Premier League goal against former club Blackpool. He finished the season with our goals but also received the first red card of his career in the final day in a 1-0 win over Chelsea. His performances meant that he was nominated for the 2011 PFA Young Player of the Year.
Coleman Everton
Coleman was a very solid player for a number of seasons but finally received all the attention that he deserves during the 2013-14 season. He scored six league goals, was named as Everton’s Player of the Year, their Players’ Player of the Year and also in the PFA Team of the Year. During the course of the season he set up 45 chances and helped them to a club record 72 Premier League points.

The final word can go to Roberto Martinez. “He just grows month by month. He is a good example of a footballer with an incredible attitude and appetite for the game. I haven’t done anything to coax that out of him. He knows his potential. He plays in a demanding position which needs you to be so good in many areas. He’s one of the best full-backs in world football.”

27th May – Paul Gascoigne

Paul Gascoigne is one of the greatest players England have ever produced and in terms of natural talent not many have even come close.

He provided so many good memories for football fans in the 90s ranging from his impressive World Cup showing at Italia 90 to that goal against Scotland at Euro 96. Although he has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons since his retirement it should not be this that he is remembered for as he was a wonderful player.

Gazza started his career at Newcastle United and was a special talent from an early age as he captained the youth team as they won the Youth Cup in 1985 with him scoring twice in the final. He was soon quickly promoted to the first team and Jack Charlton gave him his debut on the 13th April 1985 against QPR. But it was Willie McFaul that gave him his first start on the opening day of the new season. He scored his first goal a few weeks later against Oxford United and impressed for the entire season, scoring another eight goals.
Soccer - Today League Division One - Newcastle United Photocall
Newcastle struggled in the next season but Gazza still managed to score five times in 24 league games and was vital in helping the club avoid relegation. The season after though was his best personally, as he was named the PFA Young Player of the Year and was in the PFA Team of the Year and in the summer he moved to Tottenham Hotspur for a British record of £2.2 million.

In his first season he scored seven times in 37 league games and helped the club reach sixth place. They then rose to the third place the season after and he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1990 and also Tottenham’s Player of the Year. In the 1990-91 season he played a key part in helping the club win the FA Cup as he scored six times in the competition, including one against Arsenal in the semi final. However, an injury in the final meant that he would miss the entire 1991-92 season.
Gazza Spurs
Lazio had already agreed a deal to sign the midfielder and they eventually got their man for £5.5 million. He was loved by the Lazio fans because he scored an 89th minute equaliser against fierce rivals Roma but he did have a tough time in Italy and did not settle well. Despite this he helped them qualify for Europe for the first time in 16 years. Over the next two seasons he struggled with injuries and in July 1995 he joined Rangers for £4.3 million.

And he once again became a club legend by scoring in the Old Firm Derby, it was an extraordinary goal as he ran almost the full length of the pitch before scoring. Rangers won the league that season and he scored a hatrick against Aberdeen to clinch the title. They also went on to win the Scottish Cup and Gascoigne finished the season with 19 goals.
Gazza Rangers
Rangers won the title again in the 1996-97 season and Gascoigne scored hatricks against Kilmarnock and Motherwell and finished the year with an impressive 17 goals in 34 appearances. He also scored twice in the League Cup final victory over Hearts. His last season at the club was less successful as Rangers lost their title and didn’t win their single trophy which led to the player moving back to England, this time joining Middlesbrough for £3.45 million.

It started well for him as he helped them get promotion back to the Premier League and was then even more impressive in helping them finish sixth in their first season back but unfortunately his form did not last and he eventually left the club and joined Everton.

He started well but only played 32 league games for the club, scoring one goal which turned out to be his last in England away to Bolton Wanderers. He left the club in March 2002 and ended the season at Burnley where he made six appearances but they narrowly missed out on the playoffs and he left after just two months. Gascoigne then had a short spell in China playing for Gansu Tianma and started off well by scoring twice in his first four games but troubles off the pitch meant he had to leave. His last club was League Two Boston United but after only playing five times in three months he decided to retire.

The final word can go to Sir Alex Ferguson who has admitted he wished he signed the player. “He was a fantastic footballer. He was the best player England produced since the days of Bobby Charlton. He was the best player of his era, a breath of fresh air because he played with a smile.”

2nd May – David Beckham

One of the most recognisable footballers ever has not only had a good career on the pitch but off it too with his name known all round the world.

David Beckham turns 39 today and to some people he is more known for what he has done off the pitch due to him becoming a fashion icon and being married to Victoria Adams a member of the girl band Spice Girls. But his playing career has sometimes been overlooked and a lot of people have missed how good he was on the pitch.

Beckham started his career at Manchester United and after playing a few games for the club he was ready to play more first team football and had an impressive five game spell at Preston North End where he scored two goals including one directly from a corner. But he had to wait until the opening day of the 1996-97 season to become centre stage as he scored from the halfway line in a victory over Wimbledon and from there his season just got better as the club won the title and he won the PFA Young Player of the Year.
Soccer - David Beckham Retires
The following season after Eric Cantona retired, Beckham was given the famous number 7 shirt and in 1998-99 he had arguably his greatest season ever in terms of trophies as he won the treble and sent in both the corners in which they scored from in the Champions League final. He went on to win another three Premier League titles before the famous boot kicking incident with Sir Alex Ferguson led to speculation that he was going to leave the club.

In the summer of 2003 he was transferred to Real Madrid in a move that seemed to fit all parties involved. It wasn’t as easy as the player had hoped at Madrid with the club unable to win any trophies until his final season at the club when he had already announced that he was leaving for America. They ended up piping Barcelona to the title on the final game of the season but it was Beckham being taken off that changed the game, they were losing 1-0 and his replacement Jose Antonio Reyes scored twice to win them the game and La Liga.
Beckham madrid
Beckham signed a huge contract for LA Galaxy and some would argue that he was too good to go there and should have continued to play at a higher level but others argue that he was trying to grow the name of ‘soccer’ in America and surely this was a good thing. With the MLS running at different times to European competitions it did allow him to join other teams on loan. He decided to join Italian side AC Milan and he fit into their team pretty well with them having a slower pace and he played 20 games scoring 2 goals for the club in his first spell there.

Upon returning to LA Galaxy he was disliked by a section of the supporters telling him to go home and that he was only a part time player. However he played a key role in helping the club win the Western Conference final. This did not stop him signing for AC Milan for a second time, this time however it ended badly as he suffered an injury which would keep him out for around six months.
Beckham LA
When he did return playing for Galaxy he scored in 2-1 win over Dallas which secured them their second successive Western Conference title. At the end of his contract he signed for PSG on a five month deal and decided to donate all his wages during this period to a local children’s charity. At the end of the season he became the first English player to win titles in four different countries as he helped them clinch the Ligue 1 championship. On the 16th May he announced that he was retiring from football.

The final word can go to his manager at Real Madrid and England Fabio Capello. “At Madrid I left him out of the squad because he had signed a contract with Los Angeles but he continued to come on the field and train and I put him back in the team. He is a very serious lad, very sensible, a professional. People think he is a playboy off the field, it’s not true at all.”