30th August – Kris Commons

Kris Commons played over 500 games and scored over 100 goals during his professional career and proudced some magic moments.

Commons started his career at Stoke City, making his debut in a 3-2 defeat against Blackpool. Shortly afterwards he picked up an injury and was out of action for year before making his comeback in a 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday and his first goal came 16 days later against Norwich City. After a promising start he was offered a new contract, however he rejected it and signed for Nottingham Forest.

Commons NF

Although his first season ended in relegation from the Championship, Commons stayed with the club to try and get them promoted. He had to wait until his final season to finally achieve this aim and following a 3-2 win over Yeovil Town they gained promotion with the midfielder being named in the PFA League One Team of the Year. At this point he had played 159 times for Forest but with his contract up he made the unthinkable move to Derby County.

He started his time at Derby on the wing under Paul Jewell but he didn’t really show his potential until he was moved into the centre and he would go on to score the only goal of the game in a victory over Manchester United in the League Cup. Later on in the season he would also score the winning goal against Forest in an FA Cup game.

Commons DC

Injuries caught up with him in the next season and he didn’t have much of an impact, however the 2010-11 season was probably his best in England as he went on a run of seven goals in nine games. This form caught the attention of Celtic who signed him on the 28th January 2011 and on the following day he scored against Aberdeen and would end the season winning the Scottish Cup. Celtic won the title in the following campaign but it was a difficult one for Commons as he only scored one goal.

But he did manage to bounce back and show his quality. During the 2013-14 season he finished as the top scorer, hitting the back of the net 32 times in all competitions. However, this wasn’t enough to convince new manager Ronny Deila to give him a starting place. He did manage to turn this round again but things got worse when Brendan Rodgers took charge as he told him he would not be part of the squad.

Commons Celtic

Commons would stay at the club until the end of his contract and after a back injury he decided it was time to retire. His last games in football came during a loan spell at Hibernian where he played five times, scoring twice.

The final word can go to Neil Lennon. “He’s intelligent, grounded and hungry. What he will do is improve us and influence the team and squad on and off the field. He will provide a goal threat from the wider areas or deeper lying areas.”

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28th August – Kevin McNaughton

Kevin McNaughton has played over 500 games in his professional career and despite retiring once he came back to play more and be as consistent as he always was.

The defender did initially retire in 2017 but has had to play further games due to an injury crisis at Scottish club Forfar Athletic where he had been a first team coach.

McNaughton started his career in Scotland with Aberdeen and made his debut at 18 in a 2-1 defeat to St Mirren and would eventually become a regular during the 2000-01 season. He was showing a lot of promise and was even named PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year at the end of the 2001-02 season. However, an injury in the following season slowed down his development and at times he struggled to regain his previous form.

McNaughton Aberdeen

He did eventually show his qualities once more and this led to him being linked with moves to Scottish giants Celtic and other clubs in England. After 201 appearances for Aberdeen he did leave the club on a free transfer on the 26th May 2006 joining Cardiff City. Initially McNaughton was used a sa left back by Dave Jones in the Championship but in the following campaign he was moved to the more familiar right back position. During this season he played an important role in helping the club reach the final of the FA Cup and even scored his first goal for the club in the Fourth Round victory over Hereford United.

The 2009-10 season was much more difficult for the defender as he struggled with injuries however he bounced back by playing every game in the following season and his consistent performances earned him the Player of the Season vote. Over the next few seasons his popularity continued to grow among the Cardiff fans and he helped them reach the League Cup final which they unfortunately lost on penalties against Liverpool.

McNaughton CC

On the 21st August 2012, McNaughton played his 400th career game for Cardiff in a 0-0 draw with Brighton and played a role in helping the club gain promotion to the Premier League. He was given a new one year deal but unfortunately only played five times in the top flight and during the season he joined Bolton on loan and would play 22 times for the club over two spells.

McNaughton BW

After he was released by Cardiff he joined Wigan Athletic but only played twice for the club before joining Scottish side Inverness. However, an injury put an end to his season and he announced his retirement but in December 2017 he reversed this decision and is now a registered player for Forfar.

The final word can go to Malky Mackay. “Kevin has been a terrific servant. Good, experienced professionals like Kevin are essential for a squad’s success and I know this news will please City supporters, as much as it does my staff and I, who know and appreciate what a hard working and dedicated player Kevin is.”

16th August – Jonatan Johansson

Jonatan Johansson earned over 100 caps for his country Finland and will be well remembered in England and Scotland.

The striker played for many clubs in both countries and will be hoping to have a successful coaching career as well.

Johansson was born in Sweden but moved to Finland at a young age and started his career at his hometown club Pargas. After impressing for them he made the move to Finnish top flight team TPS Turku. In his first season he scored six times and was starting to become known as one of the top young prospects in the country.

In 1997 he made the surprising move to FC Flora in Estonia, becoming the first player from Finland to play there. He did not stay for long and after nine goals in nine games he moved onto Scottish giants Rangers. To begin with he struggled for game time until Walter Smith was replaced by Dick Advocaat. He repaid the Dutchman’s faith in the 1998-99 season by scoring 18 goals in all competitions. In terms of goals to minutes ratio he continued to impress but starts were sometimes hard to come by, in total he scored 24 goals in just 37 starts but he did also make 38 substitute appearances.

Johannsen Rangers

Before leaving in the summer of 2000 he had won the domestic treble and double in his final two seasons at the club and this convinced Charlton Athletic to sign the striker for £3.25 million. He was an instant success scoring 14 times in his first campaign and helped the club avoid relegation. He stayed for another five seasons and although the goals did not come as often as he would have hoped he was still an important member of the side until he fell out of favour during the 2005-06 season.

Johannsen CA

He ended the season on loan at Norwich City, scoring three times in 12 games. On his return to Charlton he was released after 168 games and 33 goals and subsequently signed for Malmo. Once again he was an instant success, scoring 11 goals in his first 14 matches but his time in Sweden didn’t last too long as he returned to Scotland, signing for Hibernian in January 2009, making his debut against rivals Hearts.

Johannsen Malmo

Johansson didn’t score for Hibs and in the summer he signed for St Johnstone and only managed one goal for them which turned out to be a winning goal against Hearts. After his short term deal expired he returned to TPS and scored 10 goals in 19 games including two against Inter Turku in their big derby of the season, helping the club win the 2010 Finnish Cup before announcing his retirement.

The striker is also second in the all time appearance list for Finland and their third highest scorer.

The final word can go to former Hibs manager Mixu Paatelainen. “The Hibernian supporters will quickly appreciate that we have obtained an experienced international striker who has scored goals wherever he has played.”

5th June – Stephen McPhee

Stephen Mcphee is one of the few British players to have tried to have a successful career abroad which a lot of pundits believe would improve football in the UK.

The forward started his youth career in Holland with Vitesse Arnhem which is probably part of the reason why he didn’t fear going abroad and trying out different cultures and playing styles. He never played for the Dutch side and in 1998 he joined Premier League club Coventry City.

In 2001, he joined Scottish side St Mirren on loan and was an instant success, winning the SPL Young Player of the Month. During his spell he played seven times but he did not convince parent club Coventry that he deserved a place in their team and on the 31st July 2001 signed for Port Vale.

His first season was good as he began it with a goal on his debut against Notts County and ended it as the club’s top scorer with 14 goals. This led to him being linked with moves away and Wigan Athletic had a £300,000 bid accepted, however, he could not agree personal terms. It seemed to be a poor decision as he struggled in the following campaign as he went 21 games without a goal until he scored against Oldham Athletic. He hoped this would kick start his season but only two goals followed.

McPhee PV

The 2003-04 season saw McPhee bounce back and Vale narrowly miss out on the League One playoffs with the striker scoring 27 times. With the club failing to gain promotion, it meant once again that other clubs were looking at him and Leeds United had a bid rejected. As he was out of contract he could join any foreign club for free.

Portuguese club Beira-Mar, managed by Mick Wadsworth, decided to take a chance on the Scotsman. Unfortunately the manager was sacked after just four games and many thought the striker would struggle for games. However, he proved to be a bright spot and despite relegation his consistent performances meant he was singled out for praise.

McPhee Hull

On the 19th May 2005 he returned to England, signing for Hull City. After just four games he suffered an injury and missed the rest of the season. He never fully recovered from his injuries while at the club and in his three seasons he only played 40 times. In January 2008, he signed for Blackpool, and scored three times in 19 games before the end of the season. He played his final game on the 4th April 2009 and for the next 18 months he could not get fit and announced his retirement less than a week after his club had been promoted to the top flight.

McPhee Blackpool

The final word can go to his agent David Manasseh. “Stephen thoroughly enjoyed his time at Vale, however, clubs playing at a higher level have come in for him. Stephen is an ambitious, young footballer and is keen for the chance to play at a higher level.”

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.”

23rd May – Stephen Glass

Stephen Glass is one of those players that if it wasn’t for injuries could have become one of the most exciting wingers in the early 2000s.

The Scottish international showed a lot of talent in his early years, starting his career at Aberdeen and was regarded as one of Scotland’s hottest prospects. He was an instant success in a difficult season for Aberdeen during the 1994-95 campaign, scoring important goals in their final league fixture and also in both legs of their relegation playoff which helped secure their place in the top flight. He was also influential in the League Cup final against Dundee setting up both goals in a 2-0 win and earning himself the Man of the Match award.

In 1998, for a fee of £650,000, Glass signed for Newcastle United and despite making 29 appearances in his first season his injuries started to hamper his progress. His second season was blighted with injuries and new manager Bobby Robson saw him as a solid squad player. In the following two campaigns he only made six starts but his best moment came in December 2000 when he scored an equaliser against Manchester United.

Glass Newcastle

After his contract expired, he joined Watford and was seen to be a key player in Gianluca Vialli’s side. Unfortunately, the club had financial issues and, despite the club being keen to keep the midfielder, he was released after just two seasons.

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He returned to Scotland and joined Hibernian on a three year deal. After a promising start, once again, injuries took their toll and during the first campaign he missed the final of the 2004 League Cup. During the 2004-05 season Glass would only miss two league games and this would be one of his most successful as he helped the club finish third and qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

Glass Hibs

The 2006-07 season was a difficult one as he found himself playing out of position and after Tony Mowbray left the club, he was further down the pecking order under new manager John Collins. After just two starts in the following season, Glass joined Dunfermline in January on loan until the end of the season and in the summer he was given a permanent deal.

He showed his influence on the younger players in the squad and would go on to be named club captain but injuries struck and after an early knee injury he was released at the end of the 2009-10 season. After an unsuccessful trial at St Mirren, North American Soccer League side Carolina Seahawks offered him a deal but a hip injury limited him to just seven appearances and would soon announce his retirement.

The final word can go to former Newcastle great, Bob Moncur. “What I really like about him is that he goes either side to take on his full-back. And he doesn’t drift across the park. He goes straight at his man. He gets the ball in early too, which is going to benefit Alan Shearer so much.”

12th November – James McCarthy

When Roberto Martinez left Wigan Athletic for Everton it was inevitable that some of his former players would join him at his new club and arguably James McCarthy has been one of their most consistent players in the last few seasons.

The holding midfielder does a fantastic job for the side as he allows the full backs to press forward and give the team a lot of width whilst not leaving his own goal overexposed. There are few better in his position at the moment and it is strange that he is still seen as underrated as he is one of the most important players in the squad and has so far never let anyone down.

McCarthy is now 24 and will be hoping that he can continue to improve at the rate he has already and go on to get more plaudits in his career. The midfielder started his career in Scotland with Hamilton Academicals and made his debut as a substitute against Queen of the South on the 30th September 2006 becoming the youngest player to play for the club in the 21st century. His full debut would come just over a month later, a day before his 16th birthday, against Airdrie United. He would then also go on to become the club’s youngest ever goalscorer when he hit the back of the net in a Scottish Cup game against Livingston, aged just 16 years and 55 days.
McCarthy HA
In the 2007-08 season McCarthy’s quality was clear to see and he helped his side gain promotion to the SPL with six goals in 35 games and was rewarded with a new three year contract. He had quickly become one of the best young players in Scotland and many were interested to see how he would do in the top flight. McCarthy made the step up comfortably and was named the SPFA Young Player of the Year after yet another fantastic season which saw him score a further six league goals.

It was always going to be difficult to keep hold of the midfielder and on the 21st July 2009 he made the move down south to Wigan. His debut was one to forget, however as his side were defeated 5-0 by Manchester United. It did take him a little while to find his feet but this was expected and he would go on to score on his first Premier League start against Wolves on the 16th January 2010. This seemed to give him confidence and his performances steadily improved.
McCarthy WA
He began the 2010-11 season very well but a serious ankle injury kept him out of action for three months. On his return to the side he scored against Aston Villa and then followed this up with two goals against Blackburn Rovers in a 4-3 win. His reputation was once again on the rise and he was given a new five year contract by Wigan to make sure if he did have to leave they would get a good transfer fee for him. He remained consistent for the club and was part of the team that won the FA Cup in 2013 before Wigan were relegated in the same season.

After relegation it was unlikely that he would stay at the club but he did feature five times for them in the Championship showing his commitment but on the 2nd September 2013 he joined Everton for £13 million. McCarthy was brilliant in his first season and forged a very good partnership with Gareth Barry which was a key reason why they reached a club record 72 points in the Premier League. He had to wait until the final day of the season to score his first goal for the club in a 2-0 win over Hull City.
McCarthy Everton
The final word can go to Roberto Martinez. “James is one of those players you sometimes don’t appreciate but he’s always there making sure the team has the right balance. He allows others to shine. He can adapt to different situations during a game when you need him to because of the tactical awareness that he has.”