26th August – Nicky Summerbee

Nicky Summerbee comes from a long line of professional footballers and just like his dad, Mike, will be loving how Manchester City are getting on at the moment.

The midfielder now does a lot of radio work and is regularly a pundit for Manchester City games and will be forever liked by those at the club as his dad is a cult hero there.

Summerbee didn’t have the easiest starts to his career and had trials at clubs like Manchester United, Leicester City and Norwich City before finally convincing Swindon Town that he was good enough. After signing for them in 1989 he would go on to make 112 league appearances for the club, scoring six goals and being an important member of the squad that got promoted to the Premier League in 1993.

Summerbee ST

His form convinced Manchester City to pay £1.3 million for his services and he proudly followed in his father’s footsteps. In his first season at the club they were struggling and even with Alan Ball replacing Brian Horton as manager nothing could change their fortunes. Unfortunately this ended in the club getting relegated from the Premier League and led to rumours of Summerbee leaving the club. In the summer of 1997 it looked as though he would be moving on after a trial with French side Bordeaux, however a move never materialised.

Summerbee MC

After 131 games for City, Summerbee did leave for Sunderland in November 1997. He made an instant impact on his debut against Portsmouth by scoring the final goal in a 4-1 win after coming on as a substitute. He continued his good form and was a regular in the side as he once again helped his side gain promotion from Division One and into the Premier League.

However, injuries and some argue things in his personal life contributed to him not having as much of an impact as he would have liked in the next few seasons for Sunderland. Summerbee was left in the wilderness by manager Peter Reid as the club began to thrive and an incident in a reserve match against Newcastle United put an end to his career at Sunderland.

Summerbee Sunderland

Upon leaving Sunderland, he joined Bolton Wanderers, however this only lasted nine games, with him managing to score one goal against Crystal Palace. But he struggled to settle and more short term spells at Leicester City and Nottingham Forest followed. He finally found a place to call home again when he joined Bradford City in 2003.

He stayed with the club for two and a half years but towards the end his playing time was becoming limited and he had loan spells at Swindon Town and Tranmere Rovers. His final move was to Tamworth where he played four league games before retiring.

The final word can go to former Swindon Town manager Andy King. “I spoke about players performing well. Nicky Summerbee gave us much greater shape, and put some good balls into the box. The shape was the key thing.”

Advertisements

29th July – Andy Reid

Andy Reid was a midfielder that wanted to play for clubs that could guarantee him games rather than playing for big clubs.

This was evident at the start of his career when he turned down Arsenal and Manchester United as he believed that they did not spend enough time with their youngsters during the early 2000s and waited for a different opportunity to move from his native Ireland.

So Reid started his career at Nottingham Forest and made his debut on the 29th November 2000 against Sheffield United and from then started to play regular football. He spent five years at Forest and finished as their top scorer at the end of the 2003-04 season with 13 goals and was named in the PFA Division One Team of the Year. This would be his final full season at the club as he handed a transfer request in August 2005.

Reid NF

On the last day of the January transfer window Reid and Michael Dawson joined Tottenham Hotspur. He made his debut shortly after in a 3-1 win over Portsmouth and started off brightly but unfortunately this wouldn’t last and he only played 27 times for the club, scoring once in a 5-1 win over Aston Villa.

Due to lack of game time Reid joined Charlton Athletic in August 2006. Once again he started off well and gained a lot of praise, however the club were on a downward spiral at the time and were relegated from the Premier League. Reid stayed at the club to help them get promoted but after seven goals in 23 games he was linked with moves away and joined Premier League side Sunderland in January 2008.

Reid CA

He was a regular in the side for his first three seasons at the club but during the 2010-11 season he had lost his place in the side and joined Sheffield United on a two month loan, playing nine times and scoring twice. After struggling to get his place back in the Sunderland side he joined Blackpool but he only played five times and after their relegation he didn’t do enough to convince them to sign him permanently.

Reid Sunderland

Reid rejoined Nottingham Forest on a two year deal. His form returned and his quality was there for all to see. During the 2013-14 season he surpassed all expectations and rolled back the years by scoring 10 goals in 36 games and was named the club’s Player of the Year and was also named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year. An injury in the following campaign pretty much put his career to an end but did manage to play a few more games to take his number of appearances to over 450.

The final word can go to former Tottenham sporting director Frank Arnesen. “Andy can play as a left winger, down the right side or just behind the striker so his arrival compliments the squad. He’s a technical footballer with a nice left foot, who can read the game well.”

3rd July – Lee Bradbury

Lee Bradbury found his way into professional football after being an army recruit so understands about the other side of life.

Many footballers these days get criticised for not having worked a day in their life and getting too much money. But Bradbury is someone that will surely make the players of whatever clubs he manages to appreciate what they have. He currently manages Havant & Waterlooville and has just led them to promotion to the National League.

Bradbury started his playing career at Portsmouth but he first made an impact on loan at Exeter City, where he scored five league goals in 14 games in 1995. On his return to his parent club he did start getting more opportunities and really showed his potential during the 1996-97 season which led to him being linked with big money moves away. In July 1997, after 54 games for Portsmouth, Bradbury joined Manchester City for £3 million.

Bradbury Portsmouth

However, it was a tough time for the club as they suffered relegation at the end of the 1997-98 season but the striker did manage to score six times. Just three months into the following campaign he was on the move again, this time to Crystal Palace for £1.5 million. He only lasted 32 league games and was on the move once more, returning to first club Portsmouth.

His career started to recover and he played over 100 times in his second spell but as the team pushed for the First Division title in the 2002-03 season he was finding game time harder to come by and was sent out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. During this spell he scored three times in 11 games showing that he can still have an impact. But he couldn’t force his way back in to the Portsmouth side and another loan spell to Derby County followed. He didn’t manage to score for Derby.

In 2004, Bradbury joined Walsall and scored just one goal for them, coming against the team he failed to score for Derby. He never really settled at Walsall and was on the move again. Oxford United was his next destination, where he scored nine times in 63 league games. He stayed until January 2006 and moved onto Southend United.

Bradbury OU

He only stayed for one full season before making the final move of his career, joining Bournemouth. As he was now coming towards the end of his career he started having different roles, not only off the pitch but on it too, and switched position from striker to right back to cover for injuries. His performances were that good that he became first choice in that position until the club signed Stephen Purches. After playing over 100 times for the club he decided to retire in 2011 after being named caretaker manager of Bournemouth after the departure of Eddie Howe.

Bradbury Bournemouth

Bournemouth reached the playoffs in his first season but they were unfortunately beaten by Huddersfield and after a poor run of form in the following campaign, Bradbury was sacked. He has since been manager of Havant & Waterlooville since October 2012.

The final word can go to Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell. “For me it was a no brainer. Lee has progressed well, signed good players and brought in an experienced assistant. It helps bring stability to the club and that’s what we want to do.”

29th June – Andy O’Brien

Andrew O’Brien like his namesake Liam will go down in Newcastle United history for scoring a goal in the Tyne-Wear Derby.

The centre back, might not be the first name that springs to mind when thinking of goalscorers in a derby but was a fan favourite for a while, not just at Newcastle but at many of his other teams.

O’Brien started his career at Bradford City and made his debut in 1996 against QPR and quickly became a first team regular. During the 1998-99 season he played 34 times, helping the club gain promotion to the Premier League. The team struggled in the Premier League and barely survived relegation in the first season but as the club were facing relegation and a lot of financial difficulties they had to sell their best assets. After 133 league appearances for Bradford, O’Brien joined Newcastle United for £2 million.

Francis Jeffers and Andy O''Brien

In one of his first games for the club he scored an equaliser against Sunderland and he followed this up by being a dependable defender in the next season as the club qualified for the Champions League. Despite the arrival of Titus Bramble and Jonathan Woodgate during the 2002-03 season, O’Brien managed to stay first choice.

O'Brien NU

His form was solid for Newcastle up until the end of the 2004-05 season when his performances took a dip and along with the club’s disappointing 14th place finish it was time for the defender to leave. Portsmouth signed him for £2 million and after a disappointing start under manager Alain Perrin, his form picked up throughout the season and was once again seen as a solid player.

In his second season he found opportunities limited and on the 13th August 2007 he signed for Bolton Wanderers. He quickly settled in at the club and impressed the fans so much that he was voted their Player of the Season. He captained the side on many occasions and on the 11th April 2009 he scored his first goal for over four years in a game against Chelsea. But after Owen Coyle took charge, O’Brien was left on the bench. Despite many clubs being interested the manager didn’t want to let him go as he still saw him as an asset.

O'Brien BW

The next move of his career was to Leeds United, initially on loan and then permanently on the 1st January 2011. Just days after signing he put in one of the performances of his career in an FA Cup game against Arsenal. But things turned sour afterwards with a few mistakes in the opening few games of the following season and the defender wanted to leave after the fans gave him a tough time. The final move of his career was to the MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps where he played 50 league games.

The final word can go to former Portsmouth Chief Executive Peter Storrie. “We have signed a first-class player who has played at the top for both club and country and has a very prominent record.”

20th June – Juliano Belletti

Juliano Belletti was a World Cup winner in 2002 and will be hoping that Brazil improve this time around after a disappointing opening draw against Switzerland.

The right back was unfortunate that he played at the same time as Cafu as he would have gained a lot more than 23 caps. But he should still be proud of his international career and how influential he was for the clubs he played for.

Belletti started his career at Cruzeiro in Brazil and was given his debut in 1994 but after failing to break into the team, he was involved in a swap deal, joining Sao Paulo. Once again, he wasn’t first choice and was loaned out to Atletico Mineiro and this is where his career started. The club finished second in the table with Belletti scoring five times.

Soccer - FIFA Confederations Cup 2003 - Group B - Brazil v USA

On his return to Sao Paulo he was finally seen as their first choice right back and stayed at the club until 2002 when his performances had been spotted by clubs in Europe. It was Spanish side Villarreal that took a chance on him. He stayed with them for two years, playing 59 La Liga games, scoring six times before moving to Barcelona.

In his first season he helped the club win the league title but his second was slightly harder as he was in and out of the side. However, he did manage to score his one and only goal for Barcelona in this season. After coming on as a substitute in the Champions League final against Arsenal, Belletti scored the winning goal. This would be his greatest moment but he didn’t get much luck with injuries in the following campaign.

Belletti Barca

With limited opportunities the right back joined English side Chelsea on the 23rd August 2007 and made his debut two days later in a 4-0 win over Portsmouth. In his first season he made the right back position his own and scored against Wigan Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur.

Chelsea would reach the Champions League final and despite Belletti scoring in the penalty shootout, the team would go on to lose against Manchester United. With the arrival of Jose Bosingwa at the start of the next season, the defender struggled to keep hold of his place and was seen as more of a utility player.

Belletti Chelsea

After three seasons, 94 appearances, five goals, a Premier League title and two FA Cup medals, Belletti had gained cult hero status but his time was up and he returned to Brazil to join Fluminense. Just one year into his new contract he was released due to injuries but he did give it one more try signing for Ceara. However, 12 days later he decided to retire.

The final word can go to former Chelsea and Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. “I know him very well. I know Belletti from when he started to play at Sao Paulo. I know his potential. He helps us in whatever position we put him in; midfield, right back, any position.”

31st May – Antti Niemi

Antti Niemi may not be the first name that springs to mind when thinking of the best goalkeepers but he proved to be one of the most consistent in the United Kingdom.

The Finnish international proved himself as a great shot stopper and consistent performer throughout his whole career, beginning it professionally in Finland with HJK Helsinki, where he made 101 league appearances for the club before making the move to Copenhagen. At the Danish giants he played 47 league games and after impressing over the next two years, he was once again linked with moves to bigger clubs and it was Glasgow Rangers that signed him in 1997.

He didn’t get a lot of opportunities to show his true abilities, only making 13 league appearances, at the club but he had settled well in Scotland and wanted to stay in the country. In December 1999, Hearts signed him and he became a fans favourite very quickly with his impressive performances. After three seasons though it was once again time to move on and this time to England, where he joined Southampton in 2002.

Niemi Hearts

There were many ups and downs while at Southampton, including helping the club reach the FA Cup final in 2003 but he made history by becoming the first goalkeeper to be substituted in a final after he suffered a calf injury. The team would ultimately go on to lose the game 1-0 against Arsenal. His ability was never in doubt in England and over the next few seasons there was a lot of speculation about him leaving for one of the teams challenging for the title. In 2005, however, Southampton were relegated from the Premier League and despite staying on, they never looked likely to return so Niemi felt it was time to leave and test himself once more in a top league. The player, himself, described this experience as his first bad one in British football.

Niemi Soton

Niemi returned to the Premier League in January 2006, signing for Fulham. And was their first choice keeper until March 2008 when an injury led to him losing his place to Kasey Keller. After 62 league games for the club, Niemi announced his retirement from the game. However, he did sign a one year contract with Portsmouth to provide backup to David James. He left the club without making a single appearance for the club and once again announced his retirement.

Niemi Fulham

On the international scene he was first choice for almost a decade, being capped 67 times by Finland and he kept his place ahead of fellow Premier League goalkeepers Jussi Jaaskelainen and Peter Enckleman, which just shows how much quality he had.

The final word can go to former Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe when signing the stopper. “He has a good character. He is the Finnish number one and he played an absolute blinder to keep out Germany so that England qualified for the World Cup. We are confident he will be a tremendous addition to our squad.”

29th May – Claudio Cacapa

Claudio Cacapa is one of the most decorated players of the 2000s in France but his reputation in England is not as positive.

The central defender was never the tallest and some felt this is why he didn’t succeed in the Premier League and looked better in other leagues. Cacapa started his career in Brazil with Atletico Mineiro where he established himself quickly as first team regular after making his debut in 1996. In 1999 he was voted the best defender in the league receiving the Bola de Ouro award.

Cacapa AM

In 2001, he was linked with moves to Europe and eventually moved to Lyon, making his debut on the 17th February. His success was instantaneous as he scored in the Coupe de la Ligue final which Lyon won and this helped him earn a full time contract. Lyon awarded him with a five year deal and was given the captain’s armband. Over the next five years he lifted the Ligue 1 title each season and played a part in their Champions League campaigns.

Cacapa Lyon

When his contract came to an end there was a lot of interest and on the 3rd August 2007 he signed for Newcastle United. He made his debut as a substitute against Aston Villa and in doing so he became the 1000th player to play for the club in a competitive fixture. Later in the month he would make his full debut in a 2-0 win against Barnsley and followed this up three days later with his full Premier League debut, helping his team to a 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic.

After a goal in a 3-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur, his career at Newcastle went downhill. In a game against Portsmouth, Cacapa was withdrawn after just 18 minutes after a few horrendous errors and his reputation was ruined. It was announced that he had an injury leading up to the game but he was heavily criticised.

Cacapa Newcastle

Despite being at the club until the end of the 2008-09 season, which ended in relegation, he only managed 25 league games and was released at the end of the campaign. Cacapa returned to Brazil and in a surprising move he joined Cruzeiro, big rivals to first club Mineiro. He played 22 times for the club, scoring one goal.

On the 25th January 2011, the defender joined French side Evian on a six month deal and helped the club win the Ligue 2 title and promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history. However, he wasn’t given a new contract and he joined Avai, where he stayed until his retirement on the 20th March 2012.

The final word can go to the manager that signed him for Newcastle, Sam Allardyce. “He is a top player. Our fans should not be put off by the fact they may not have heard of Cacapa. He has been captain of Lyon for the past five years and for every one of those five years they won the French title.”