Clayton Donaldson has played a big part in Birmingham City’s revival this season under Gary Rowett and helped his side to a 1-1 draw with Fulham on his birthday but unfortunately could not add to his goal tally.
Now 31 it has been a long road for the 31 year old to reach the Championship but he has always scored goals at whatever club he has been at in England. It seemed like he made a bad decision leaving Brentford for Birmingham in the early months of the season but in recent weeks his new club have started playing much better.
The striker started his career at Hull City and scored on his debut on the 22nd October 2002 against Port Vale in the Football League Trophy. Shortly afterwards he joined Northern Premier League club Harrogate Town on loan and also scored on his debut for them against Gateshead. He spent three months at the club, scoring five times in 10 games. Back at his parent club he signed a new two year deal and made a further two appearances before the end of the season. After short loan spells at Scarborough and Halifax Town, he returned to Harrogate again on loan and had more success with the club, winning the Conference North Player of the Month in October 2004 and scored four times in 11 games before being released by his parent club.
In June 2005 Donaldson joined York City and had an impressive first season, finding the back of the net 18 times and being named Clubman of the Year. During his second season he was being linked with moves away from the club and this may have distracted for short periods and many clubs tabled bids for the striker but none were accepted. After 26 goals in the Conference he did leave York in the summer of 2007 and made the step up to the SPL and joined Hibernian. Donaldson got his first goal for the club after winning and scoring a penalty against Falkirk but was later sent off in the game. After serving his suspension he scored on his return against Motherwell and then later in the month got a hatrick against Kilmarnock.
During the second half of the season he was frozen out of the team and didn’t play leading to a transfer to Crewe Alexandra in the summer. He first season wasn’t as prolific as he hoped but he improved in his second season despite injuries and eventually in his third season he showed his true potential. He ended the campaign as League Two’s top scorer with 28 goals.
Once again his talents were seen by teams in higher leagues and on the 1st July 2011 he joined League One side Brentford. In each of his three seasons he hit double figures and was a constant threat to the opposition, ending his time there with over 50 goals but even though he helped them to promotion at the end of the 2013-14 season he declined their new contract offer and joined Birmingham. He is already in double figures so he has proved he can make the step up to the level and it will be interesting to see how far he can go.
The final word can go to Birmingham manager Gary Rowett. “He deserves his purple patch because he works so hard for the team. His role is pivotal to the way we play and he plays it brilliantly. He occupies defenders and all the players appreciate the role he does. He’s picking up goals as well and for me they’re bonuses.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Shaun Wright-Phillips was a player that was very highly rated as a youngster but as the years have gone by he has become less effective and is now in the footballing wilderness, however if given the chance he could still help QPR avoid relegation.
The club are really struggling to create chances and if they could get the winger back on form they would have a real player on their hands. The 33 year old has made some big money moves in his career but he has largely failed to live up to his potential, despite six goals in 36 games for England and some fantastic performances for club and country. With him being on such a high wage it is difficult for QPR to get rid of him so they have will have to try and work something out.
Wright-Phillips started his career at Manchester City and made his debut in 1999 as a substitute in a League Cup match against Burnley. He made his league debut against Port Vale a few months later and helped his side turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win, with the winger having the shot that resulted in his team’s first goal, unfortunately it was given as an own goal. City were promoted to the Premier League at the end of the season but their stay only lasted one season with Wright-Phillips, playing in a number of positions in his 19 appearances.
After Kevin Keegan replaced Joe Royle as manager and the winger benefitted hugely from this as he became an automatic first choice in Keegan’s more attacking team. He was used as a right wing back and helped the club gain promotion once more, scoring eight times in 35 league games. From 2000-2003 Wright-Phillips won the club’s Young Player of the Year award and was quickly developing into one of the best young players in the country. In his final season at the club he scored 10 Premier League goals in 34 games and was being linked with moves away.
On the 18th July 2005 the winger completed a £21 million move to Chelsea. In his first season he struggled to make his mark on the team and only started 15 games all season. Wright-Phillips would have to wait 52 games and 17 months before scoring his first goal for the club on the 5th December 2006 in a 2-0 win over Levski Sofia in the Champions League. Afterwards he gained confidence and got a lot more game time, including the FA Cup final which Chelsea went on to win.
At the beginning of the 2006-07 season it seemed as though he was going to be a regular but this did not last and after 65 starts and 60 substitute appearances he returned to Manchester City on the 28th August 2008. On his second debut he scored twice in a 3-0 win over Sunderland and then just over a month after joining the club he equalled the same amount of goals in his entire time at Chelsea but his form slowed towards the end of the season.
The 2009-10 season started well and he scored in three consecutive games against Burnley, Hull City and Arsenal but after Roberto Mancini became the new manager, he did spent the rest of his time on the bench and in the following season he only played seven times. On the 31st August 2011 Wright-Phillips signed for QPR and made his full debut against Newcastle United on the 12th September. His time at QPR has been disappointing and failed to score for almost a year before scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over former club Chelsea. QPR were relegated at the end of the season and last season the winger only featured 13 times in their promotion campaign.
The final word can go to Kevin Keegan. “He’s a very special player. I haven’t seen a player like him in all my time in the game. He’s got terrific balance and courage. He may be small but he can win the ball in the air and he never stops running.”
Stuart Tomlinson retired from football in July 2013 and then embarked on a very unique career change and one that surely has never been done before.
In July 2013 he retired from football because of scar tissue damage and a tear in his anterior cruciate ligament meaning that his left knee was in poor shape and he was advised to retire by surgeons. After injuries it can be tough for footballers and the man that was nicknamed ‘The Tank’ decided to go for something new and in December 2013 he travelled to America to sign a developmental contract with the WWE and become a wrestler.
This is something that he probably didn’t expect to happen when he graduated through Crewe Alexandra’s famous youth team. His football career was good and he was a talented keeper which began on the 25th January 2003 when he came on as a substitute for Danny Milosevic in a 3-1 win over Oldham Athletic. At the end of the season he signed his first professional contract and the club were promoted to the First Division so it was a very good start for him personally.
After a few more substitute appearances it was in January 2006 when he finally made his first start against Preston North End in an FA Cup Third Round game which they went on to win 2-1. Tomlinson then got his first start in the league in a 4-2 win over Millwall in April. But it was not until the 2008-09 season that he finally got a decent run in the first team. On the 25th November he was given a start away to Leicester City which they won 2-1 and then played six games over the next month and kept four clean sheets. However his performances were not good enough to convince new manager Gudjon Thordarson to give him a new contract and he left the club.
He dropped out of the Football League to join Barrow even though there were clubs interested in him that were playing in higher divisions. But it gave him the opportunity to play first team football and also win a trophy at Wembley as they won the FA Trophy. In total he played 27 times in his one season at the club but he chose not extend his contract.
Tomlinson signed for Port Vale and manager Micky Adams was very pleased with his new signing. “Signing Stuart means we have real competition for the number one jersey. He is a good shot stopper and is a physically imposing keeper. He’s a good age too, and has time on his side.” Tomlinson started the season in fantastic form keeping five clean sheets in the first 10 games and was linked with moves away from the club because of his good form.
After playing 81 times over two seasons he decided once again to not sign a new contract with Port Vale and joined Burton Albion. He kept a clean sheet on his debut in a 1-0 win over Rochdale. Unfortunately he suffered a knee injury that kept him out for several months and this was the start of his injury problems that would eventually lead to his retirement.
The final word can go to his last manager Gary Rowett who when saying this probably didn’t expect him to go on to be a wrestler. “His retirement is naturally sad news, however I have no doubt that he will succeed in whatever he decides to do next and we wish him all the very best.”
With a record of six goals in 15 games for the England under 21s you would expect this player to be a striker or at least an attacking midfielder but in fact he is a central defender.
Craig Dawson, 24 today, has came a long way since playing for Radcliffe Borough as he lined up in an unfamiliar position of right back against Arsenal for West Brom. The Northern Premier League side Radcliffe played the defender 95 times and he scored 15 league goals which shows that he has always had an eye for goal. His impressive performances meant that he was being watched by Football League clubs and it was Rochdale that signed him.
On his debut for the reserves he scored a header against Manchester City but unfortunately an injury stopped him progressing to the first team quicker.
At the start of the 2009-10 season he made his debut on the 8th August against Port Vale and was a consistent player throughout earning him a place in the PFA League Two Team of the Year. He also scored 9 goals in 42 league games which once again meant teams in higher division were looking at him.
On 31st August 2010 West Brom signed Dawson on a three year deal for an undisclosed fee but as part of the transfer agreement he was loaned back to Rochdale for the remainder of the season. Once again he proved how dangerous he can be in the oppositions box by getting into double figures and scoring 10 times.
On his return to West Brom he made his debut in a League Cup win over Bournemouth which was watched by England under 21 manager Stuart Pearce and he earned a call up to his next squad. In July 2011 he was rewarded by the club with a new and improved contract and made his first Premier League start on the 17th September against Swansea City, however it was a disappointing performance from the whole team as they lost 3-0.
Due to him not getting many first team opportunities he was once again going out on loan in January 2013 and it was Bolton Wanderers who won the race to sign him. It did not take him long to open his goalscoring account with two goals in a 4-1 win over Hull City on the 23rd February. Three days later he scored the only goal against Peterborough United and then made it three games in a row by scoring the winning goal against Barnsley in a 3-2 win.
The only surprising thing about his career so far is that he has played 15 Premier League games and he hasn’t managed to get on the scoresheet. The final word can go to West Brom Sporting Director Dan Ashworth. “He is an exciting young prospect who we have thoroughly scouted and he is an imposing lad with bags of potential.”