18th March – Danny Murphy

Danny Murphy is now a pundit for the BBC and is doing a decent job but during his playing career he was slightly underrated and one that was usually a valuable member of any side.

Now at the age of 38 the former midfielder can look back on his career with pride after playing over 700 professional games but he will also be disappointed as he only got nine England caps even though he was one of the most consistent English midfielders during the 2000s. After being in the headlines for the wrong reasons recently but whenever he has been on Match of the Day he has been a lot better than some of the other new pundits that have been on this season.

Murphy started his career at Crewe and made his debut as a 16 year old against Preston after coming off the bench and would go on to score the winner. He spent the early years of his career as a deep lying striker rather than a midfielder and in his final season he would hit 10 goals as the club got promoted to the second tier of English football in 1997.

Murphy CA

He wouldn’t play for the club after promotion though as he joined Liverpool and made his debut on the opening day of the 1997-98 season against Wimbledon. After making 17 league appearances over the next two seasons, he rejoined Crewe on loan and played a vital role in the club avoiding relegation. On his return to Liverpool he found a new position as a wide midfielder and this proved to be a very successful change. Over the next few years he won the League Cup twice, the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup and was a key member of the side but his best season unfortunately fell on Liverpool’s worst as he scored 12 goals and was voted the supporters’ player of the year at the end of the 2002-03 season. During his time at Liverpool he also became a fan favourite because he scored the only goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford three times.

Murphy Liverpool

But in August 2004, after playing 170 league games for Liverpool, Murphy joined Charlton Athletic. After a difficult first season, he found form in his second as he was named September Player of the Month and was linked with a call up to the England squad which arguably should have happened. This form meant that he was linked away from the club and on the 31st January 2006 he joined Tottenham Hotspur. It was not a very successful spell for him there though as he struggled to break into the first team and only played 22 Premier League games in a season and a half.

On the 31st August Murphy joined Fulham and he once again showed his ability and was part of the team that successfully avoided relegation when it looked like they would be going down for large periods of the season. On the 11th May he scored the only goal against Portsmouth which guaranteed their safety. In the following season he scored some important goals too, including his 100th club goal and yet another winner against Manchester United. The 2009-10 season started badly with the midfielder missing the first two months of the season with injury but ended with him captaining the club to the Europa League final which they unfortunately lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid.

Murphy Fulham

Murphy stayed at Fulham for another two seasons, playing over 40 times in both campaigns, but was surprisingly not given a contract extension and signed for Blackburn Rovers. He would only stay one season before retiring but was named club captain and was praised by Gary Bowyer for his contributions during a time of uncertainty at the club, with many managerial changes.

The final word can go to Steve Kean. “His record is there for all to see. He is a model professional, who has a real hunger to keep playing football and we are thrilled. This is a pivotal signing for us. Being able to bring Danny on board is a massive boost for everyone.”

5th March – Matty Fryatt

Nottingham Forest are definitely outsiders to reach the playoffs this season and with Britt Assombalonga out injured they will be relying on Matty Fryatt to score the goals.

Fryatt is now 29 and has been a consistent goalscorer for a number of years and he has proven that when he’s given the chance he can find the back of the net. When he has started games in his career he has always been one of the most awake on the pitch and he has proven this by scoring Leicester City and Walsall’s quickest ever goals both after just nine seconds, surprisingly though in both games his side would go on to lose the games 2-1.

The striker started his career at Walsall and made his debut in the League Cup against Bolton Wanderers on the 24th September 2003. But he had to go out on loan to Carlisle United to get more experience in December and he played well during his 10 game spell. The following season he was a regular for Walsall and was awarded their Player of the Year after hitting 15 goals in 36 games. This led to speculation about his future but he stayed with Walsall until January when he signed for Leicester City after another good start to the season.

Fryatt Walsall

He made his debut against Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-1 defeat and a week later he scored his first goal for the club in a 2-1 defeat against Cardiff City. Despite manager Craig Levein being sacked, Fryatt believed he made the right move and scored six goals to help the club avoid relegation from the Championship. The following two seasons were a struggle as he suffered from injury problems and only managed six goals and with the club getting relegated his future was in doubt.

However, he made a positive start to the 2008-09 season, scoring five goals in the first four games and was named the League One Player of the Month. The goals kept coming and he became the first player for 42 years to score 20 goals before Christmas for the club. During this fantastic run he also became the first player in 83 years to score consecutive hatricks. He ended the season with 32 goals and was named the League One Player of the Year after helping Leicester gain promotion.

Fryatt LC

Once again he started the next season in fantastic form, finding the back of the net three times in the opening five matches. A broken jaw towards the end of the season stopped him having as much of an impact as he would have hoped but with 13 goals he was still the top goalscorer. He only spent a further six months at Leicester as he joined Hull City on the 1st January 2011 and got off to a great start, scoring on his debut against Portsmouth and then another against Barnsley. On the 5th February he would score a hatrick against Scunthorpe United and on his 25th birthday he scored his 100th career goal in a win over Nottingham Forest. He ended the season with nine goals at Hull.

Fryatt HC

The 2011-12 season was the last time he was first choice at Hull as he played every league game and scored 16 times but in his first appearance in the 2012-13 season he picked up a serious achilles injury. So on the 27th September 2013 he joined Sheffield Wednesday on loan and made a good impact. He scored against Brighton, Barnsley and twice against Reading before returning to Hull and scored his first Premier League goal in a 6-0 win over Fulham and would later play an important role in getting the club to the FA Cup final by scoring in the semi final against Sheffield United. On the 9th June 2014 Fryatt signed for Nottingham Forest and so far has six goals for the club.

The final word can go to Nigel Pearson. “Matty’s goalscoring record is pretty good. He is a predator and he also has the ability to score goals out of nothing. He works phenomenally hard for the team and he makes himself chances because of his work rate as much as anything.”

1st March – Djimi Traore

When you think of Champions League winners, Djimi Traore is definitely not the first player that comes to mind even to Liverpool fans but he played an important role in the 2005 final.

The 2005 final will always be remembered for Liverpool coming back from 3-0 down at half time to win the trophy but what is often forgotten is that in the second half the Liverpool defence, including Traore put in some crucial blocks and tackles that stopped counter attacks and certain goals for AC Milan. The left back is now 35 and nobody can take away his Champions League winners medal but he did have some disastrous moments during his career.

Traore started his career at his hometown club Laval and after looking like a good prospect he made the move to Liverpool in 1999. The left back struggled to get into the first team and went out on loan in the 2001-02 season to Lens, making 20 appearances for the French club. On his return he started getting more chances but it looked like he was leaving during the 2003-04 season as he was very close to joining Everton. However, the move didn’t go through and when Rafael Benitez got the Liverpool job he got a new lease of life and improved defensively and offensively under the Spaniard.

UEFA Champions League: Anderlecht v Liverpool

The 2004-05 season was very mixed for Traore as he won the Champions League but he also scored one of the funniest own goals in a 1-0 defeat to Burnley in the FA Cup. He attempted a turn and a drag back inside his own six yard box but just ended getting himself mixed up and put the ball in the back of his own net. In the following season he struggled for game time as he was behind John Arne Riise in the pecking order and on the 8th August 2006 he joined Charlton Athletic for £2 million.

He got off to a terrible start after being sent off on his debut and a few months later against his former club he gave away a penalty after fouling Jermaine Pennant. After only half a season he was deemed not good enough and was allowed to join Portsmouth. He only featured 13 times at Portsmouth over the next season and a half before first going out on loan to Rennes and then Birmingham City.

Traore Monaco

On the 18th June 2009 his contract expired at Portsmouth and he joined Monaco where he put in some decent performances but once again after just two seasons he was on the move again, joining Marseille. In his only season he played 20 games and helped the club win the Coupe de la Ligue but he left at the end of the season and after a trial at Seattle Sounders he signed for the American side on the 23rd Feburary 2013. He played 28 times for the club but while he was there he scored an amazing 40 yard volley against Mexican side Tigres.

Traore SS

The final word can go to Seattle Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson. “Djimi has a great deal of experience and has played in the top leagues in Europe. He’s a very good defender and makes smart decisions with the ball coming out the back. Djimi brings us confidence and leadership.”

16th October – David Unsworth

It is an unwritten rule in football that when a player goes back to their old club they either score or have a fantastic game but David Unsworth took this to a whole new level in 2007.

The defender is now 41 and had a good career and was always a very consistent player. Although he played left back or centre back he wasn’t afraid of going forward and did have a decent goalscoring record, scoring over 50 times in his career. In 1995 he got one England cap which must have been a great moment for him and he would have been disappointed that he didn’t add to this tally.

Unsworth started his career at the club he is probably best known for, Everton, and made his debut in the 1991-92 season. But he had to wait until the 1994-95 season to become a regular and he had instant success as a first choice player as he helped his side win the FA Cup. While at Everton he was impressive and was definitely a fan favourite which is why it was surprising that after 133 games for the club he was transferred to West Ham in the 1997-98 season.
Unsworth WH
On the 23rd August 1997 he made his debut against his former club Everton and received a warm welcome from the fans, however his new team were defeated 2-1. Although his performances were very good, after just one season and 41 games he decided to leave because he and his family failed to settle in London and wanted to move back to the North West.

This is why it was surprising that he joined Aston Villa for £3 million but he decided he could make the commute, however after just one month he realised that this was a bad decision and could not continue. Fortunately Everton came to his rescue and also signed him for £3 million. He was just as consistent as he was in his first spell and made the left back position his own for the next six seasons. This time around though he became more of a goalscorer and chipped in with some vital goals from set pieces, particularly from the penalty spot. After a further 216 games for the club he once again left at the end of the 2003-04 season.
Unsworth Everton
Portsmouth signed him on the 12th July 2004 and scored on his debut from the penalty spot in a draw with Birmingham City. Later in the season he scored a penalty against Manchester United in a famous 2-0 win but after Harry Redknapp resigned, he lost his place and spent the second half of the season on loan at Ipswich Town, where he played 16 times and scored against Sheffield United on his debut.

At the start of the next season he signed for Sheffield United and was part of the team that were promoted to the Premier League. But he fell out of favour in the Premier League and Neil Warnock placed him on the transfer list.On the 5th January 2007 Unsworth signed for Wigan Athletic to help them battle against relegation and on the last day of the season, in a twist of fate, Wigan faced Sheffield United at Bramall Lane and Unsworth would go onto score the penalty that sent his former employers back to the Championship. This would be one of his last kicks for Wigan as he was released at the end of the season.
Soccer - FA Barclays Premiership - Sheffield United v Wigan Athletic - Bramall Lane
He would sign for Burnley but after just one season he also left them and had a short spell at Huddersfield Town in the following campaign but this only lasted four games and he decided to retire.

The final word can go to Neil Warnock. “I’m delighted to have David as part of my squad. His experience will be invaluable to the squad, as will the fact that he can play in a number of different positions.”

14th October – Clarke Carlisle

Clarke Carlisle is known as the smartest footballer in Britain and he has lived up to this reputation by appearing on Question Time and Countdown but has also shown another side when working as a commentator on ITV.

Although the 35 year old has added knowledge to the matches he commentates on, he has occasionally made mistakes, including one that was picked up at the World Cup when he didn’t understand why Colombian striker Jackson Martinez couldn’t get into the Ecuador team. It was an honest mistake but it was still funny especially considering the reputation he has.

Focusing on his playing career, he started at Blackpool and made his debut in a 4-3 win over Wrexham on the 2nd September 1997. In the following match he scored his first goal to give his side a 2-1 win over Carlisle United. In his 93rd and final appearance for the club he scored in a 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic and despite not being able to keep them in Division Two, his performances had attracted the attention of other clubs.
Carlisle Blackpool
On the 25th May 2000 Carlisle signed for QPR. He made 32 appearances for the club but his season was cut short on the 31st January 2001. After missing the entire 2001-02 season he returned on the 7th September 2002 in a 4-0 win over Mansfield Town. He returned to good form and helped the team reach the playoffs but they lost in the final. His career once again took a turn for the worse as he developed an alcohol addiction and missed a month of the season to have treatment. He returned to action in October 2003 and was in fantastic form winning the Division Two Player of the Month in November. Carlisle scored one goal in 39 games as QPR were promoted to the Championship. But after rejecting a new contract he joined Leeds United.
Carlisle QPR
During the early months of the season he was a regular starter but an injury on the 29th November 2004 kept him out of action and he found it difficult to break back into the first team. After just one season and 38 games he left for Watford. He was a key player in Watford’s promotion, but missed the playoffs and the injury forced him to miss eight months of the Premier League season. To gain fitness he joined Luton Town on loan on the 2nd March 2007 and played five games for the club.

He finally made his Premier League debut on the 9th April in a 4-2 victory over Portsmouth but could not stop them getting relegated. In the summer he joined Burnley and had a solid season but ended it with two red cards in the final four games. In the 2008-09 campaign he had a lot more success and in the Playoff final win over Sheffield United he picked up the Man of the Match award. Unfortunately they, like Watford, only spent one season in the top flight.

He was regular in the side during the 2010-11 season but when Eddie Howe was appointed he decided to send him out on loan to Preston for the entire 2011-12 season. He played 27 times for the club before the deal was terminated by mutual consent and on the same day he signed for Northampton Town on loan. He was appointed captain and played 18 times for the club.
Carlisle NT
When his contract at Burnley expired he joined York City on a short term deal, playing 14 times before rejoining Northampton Town. He helped the club reach the League Two playoffs but they were beaten 3-0 by Bradford City and on the 23rd May 2013 Carlisle announced his retirement.

The final word can go to Aidy Boothroyd. “I’ve known Clarke a long time. He’s a leader in every sense. I’m hoping he will be someone to lay down a lot of foundations off the pitch as regards to culture.”

18th September – Sol Campbell

A quiz question that will be asked a lot was who was the first England player to play in six consecutive international tournaments? And that man is Sol Campbell.

The 40 year old was a phenomenal centre back and represented England at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 European Championships as well as the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups. Campbell also had an intriguing club career that led to him winning many trophies but also being involved in some strange situations, including being branded a Judas.

Campbell started his career as a striker at Tottenham Hotspur and made his debut as a substitute against Chelsea in December 1992, going on to score in the game. Over the course of the next two years he played in many different positions before eventually becoming a centre half. His greatest moment in a Spurs shirt was lifting the League Cup as captain during the 1998-99 season.
Campbell TH
With his contract coming to an end in 2001, the club were desperate to keep him, offering him a fantastic contract. However he decided to move on after wanting to play Champions League football and remain a key part of the England squad. He signed for Arsenal which caused a lot of anger among Spurs fans. They would never forgive him for moving to their biggest rivals on a free transfer. His move to Arsenal proved to be the right decision as in his first season he won the Premier League and FA Cup.

The 2003-04 season will always be remembered for ‘The Invincibles’ and the defender was a massive part of this achievement, forming a brilliant partnership with Kolo Toure. The 2005-06 season took a turn for the worse during a 3-2 defeat against West Ham. He had been at fault for the first two goals and requested to be substituted and didn’t return to the club for several days and did not play again for 10 weeks.
Campbell Arsenal
When he returned his performances were back to their usual high standards and was rewarded with a start in the Champions League final against Barcelona. In this final Campbell became one of just six Englishmen to have scored in a final, however it would be in a losing effort.

On the 8th July 2006 he announced he was leaving Arsenal and moved to Portsmouth. His time at the club started very well as him and Linvoy Primus formed a solid partnership and helped the team keep five consecutive clean sheets. At the start of the 2007-08 season he was named captain and led the team to an FA Cup final victory over Cardiff City.
Campbell Pompey
Then he made another surprising move when he joined League Two Notts County. Campbell made his debut against Morecambe in a 2-1 defeat and this turned out to be his only appearance as his five year contract was cancelled by mutual consent.

As he could not join another club until January so he started training with Arsenal and rejoined them on the 15th January 2010. In his second spell he played a lot more than expected because of injuries and was very consistent but he left at the end of the season. On the 28th July 2010 he signed for Newcastle United. His time at the club was not very successful and after just seven league appearances he was released at the end of the season.

The final word can go to Arsene Wenger after re-signing him. “He brings experience, good advice, and physically he has worked hard. He has a fantastic attitude and good fitness. He can still play in the Premier League, I’ve said that many times. He is important in the dressing room as well.”

30th August – Svetoslav Todorov

Not many football fans will care about Bulgarian side Dobrudzha Dobrich but their manager is someone that a lot of English football fans will know, particularly Portsmouth.

Svetoslav Todorov is the manager and he turns 36 today and will most likely be remembered by those that visited Fratton Park in the early 2000s as he was a vital part of the team for a number of years and scored some very important goals. Unfortunately injuries played a big part in his career and he was not able to reach the heights he could have.

The striker started his career at the club he is now managing and scored twice in 12 appearances for them in the 1996-97 season. His performances started to attract attention from other clubs and in 1997 he joined Litex Lovech where he stayed for four seasons and scored 34 times in just 70 games. This led to him being offered a trial at West Ham.
Todorov Lovech
He made his debut in a 3-0 defeat against Liverpool and only had to wait until his third game to score his first goal for the club in a 3-2 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. He only scored one league goal for the club against Middlesbrough and after Harry Redknapp was replaced by Glenn Roeder he did not get much game time.

This prompted Redknapp to sign the player for a second time and he joined Portsmouth in March 2002. He did not have the best of starts at Portsmouth as he was sent off in his second game and only made one more appearance in the 2001-02 season. However, the following season Todorov showed his true potential and helped Portsmouth gain promotion to the Premier League by finishing as the league’s top scorer with 26 goals, including a hatrick on the final day against Bradford City. In the summer he signed a new three year deal with Portsmouth.

Injuries stopped him becoming even more of a Portsmouth legend as he damaged a cruciate knee ligament just days before the start of the new season and he only played once in the 2003-04 campaign. Another surgery in May 2004 once again kept him out for the entire season but despite his injuries he was given a new contract in August 2005. He played 24 times in the 2004-05 season and scored four goals in the league which was an ok record seen as though most of these were from the substitutes bench. He was an important member of Portsmouth’s escape from relegation that season as he scored crucial goals against West Ham, Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland.
Todorov Pompey
After scoring twice in the opening three games of the season for Portsmouth, he was surprisingly loaned out to Wigan Athletic where he only played five times and did not score before returning to his parent club. Having fallen down the pecking order he joined Charlton Athletic in the Championship but in his two seasons he only played 20 times and scored three goals.
Todorov Charlton
On the 16th July 2009 he rejoined Litex Lovech and scored on his debut after coming on as a substitute in a 5-0 win against Lokomotiv Mezdra. He spent three seasons at the club and in his final year he scored six times in just 11 games but left the club in the summer of 2012 and joined Ukrainian Premier League club Hoverla Uzhhorod and after not scoring in nine league games he announced his retirement on the 24th November.

The final word can go to Harry Redknapp. “He is a very intelligent footballer and will bring good competition in the striking department. We wouldn’t bring in a second division striker for that mony these days so I think it’s a real sniff.”