Ryan Shawcross may have been disappointed in Stoke City’s 3-1 defeat away to Sunderland but he has quickly became one of the most consistent centre backs in the Premier League.
The 27 year old is Stoke’s captain and the one time England international could count himself unlucky that he doesn’t get into Roy Hodgson’s squad on a regular basis as he is at least the same standard than those that do play for the country. Shawcross has helped the club become a solid Premier League side and one that are usually very difficult to beat and although their form has been patchy this season, they should not battle against relegation and be aiming for the top half.
Shawcross started his career at Manchester United and made his first team debut as a substitute against Crewe in the third round of the League Cup on the 25th October 2006. To gain first team experience, the centre back was sent out on loan to Belgian side Antwerp in January 2007, where in his 22 appearances he scored three times and helped them reach the Second Division playoffs.
In the summer he returned to Old Trafford but he wouldn’t stay for long as he was loaned out once again, this time to Stoke City and made a fantastic start to his time at the club by scoring the only goal against Cardiff City on his debut. He continued to impress everyone and was named the Championship Player of the Month in October 2007.
With Stoke looking like one of the teams that would be challenging for promotion they moved quickly to sign Shawcross permanently and on the 18th January 2008, Stoke paid £1 million for the centre back with the fee eventually rising to £2 million after they were promoted. In his first season at the club he played 41 league games and scored seven goals.
After starting in Stoke’s first Premier League game he soon lost his place to new signing Ibrahima Sonko but would go onto regain his place in the side and help the team avoid relegation. He scored against Aston Villa, Everton and Middlesbrough and was soon being linked to other Premier League clubs but manager Tony Pulis laughed off the speculation that he would leave.
In the 2009-10 season he scored on the opening day against Burnley in a 2-0 win and he would continue to be very consistent. However, he had a very mixed day on the 27th February 2010 as he was called up to the England squad for the first time but unfortunately he had been involved in an incident against Arsenal that would see him being sent off and Aaron Ramsey suffering a broken leg after a tackle from the centre back. The defender was clearly upset by the incident as he was seen crying as he left the pitch.
He recovered from this and was handed the captain’s armband at the start of the 2010-11 season and led his team to the FA Cup final which they lost 1-0 against Manchester City but qualified for the Europa League in the process. This meant he had a much busier season in the next campaign and played 49 out of the club’s 56 games.
Since being given the captaincy he has barely missed a game and on the 12th April 2014 he became the first Stoke player to ever play 200 games in the Premier League and last season he only missed one game as Stoke finished 9th and he was awarded the Player of the Year award.
The final word can go to Mark Hughes. “Ryan’s had an exceptional season. There are very few centre halves I’ve seen who are head and shoulders above him. I find it difficult to comprehend that he doesn’t get a mention for England. If he was picked, he wouldn’t let anyone down.”