11th November – Arouna Kone

Arouna Kone followed Roberto Martinez from Wigan Athletic to Everton but unfortunately for the striker it looks as though he is never going to get the opportunity to show his true quality.

The striker is now behind Romelu Lukaku, Samuel Eto’o and Steven Naismith in the pecking order and this will be frustrating because he proved at Wigan that if he was given the opportunity he can be a consistent goalscorer in the Premier League. This is part of the reason why Martinez was desperate to take him to Goodison Park. It does look like Kone will have to move club in January if he is to get more playing time and there will be plenty of clubs in the Premier League interested in him.

Now 31, Kone started his career at his hometown club Rio Sport d’Anyama and after a very impressive 17 goals in 30 games, he was given the chance to join Belgian side Lierse SK during the 2002-03 season at the age of just 18. At his new club he was equally impressive and helped the club to a fifth place finish and was the team’s top scorer. This meant that once again he was being linked with moves away and he joined Dutch side Roda JC. Once again he settled into the league very quickly and in both his full seasons he hit double figures, including 15 in the 2004-05 season and after 28 goals in 63 games he was on the move again and in the summer of 2005 he joined PSV.

During the 2005-06 season he was in fantastic form and scored 11 goals in 21 games and followed this up with a further 10 goals in the next season, helping the team to win the Eredivisie title in both seasons. But unfortunately for the striker he contracted malaria at the end of July 2007 and after a mix up of dates he could not be match fit for the start of the season and this would mean the end of his time at the club.
Kone PSV
On the 30th August 2007 Kone joined Spanish side Sevilla and made his debut as a substitute against Recreativo de Huelva and won a penalty in a game that his side won 4-1. Nine days later he scored his first goal for the club against Espanyol and then on the 2nd October he scored his first Champions League goal in a 4-2 win over Slavia Prague. However, these turned out to be his only goals for the club in 47 games. So after falling out of favour Kone was loaned out to Hannover and he would go on to score on his debut against Hoffenheim in a 2-1 defeat. After seven more games and one goal he returned to his parent club and was once again loaned out, this time to Levante.
Kone Levante
Kone was very successful at Levante and scored his first goal for the club in a surprise 1-0 win over Real Madrid and would go on to be a regular scorer throughout the rest of the campaign, eventually finishing with 17 goals in all competitions. This convinced Wigan to sign the striker and he would go on to score his first Premier League goal in his first start for the club in a 2-0 win over Southampton. Despite the club getting relegated Kone still managed to score 11 league goals and was an important part of their FA Cup winning team.
Kone WA
With Wigan getting relegated and Roberto Martinez leaving it was inevitable that Kone would leave and on the 8th July 2013 he joined Everton but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to make much of an impact and after a knee cartilage injury in October he did not play again for the rest of the season.

The final word can go to Roberto Martinez. “Arouna is not a young boy. He is experienced and whatever happens he always shows for the ball and is really strong with his back to play. His record stands up well. He’s been successful in Holland and Spain. He will be important for us. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

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6th October – Mark Schwarzer

Chelsea are in a rare position of having two world class keepers in their squad but even more remarkably their third choice Mark Schwarzer has also been one of the best in the Premier League era.

The 42 year old will probably not play many more games but he can look back on his time in England and have some wonderful memories. Some would argue that he is still better than some first choice keepers in the top flight and maybe should have moved on and tried to have another season of regular football but it must be a fantastic experience being at Chelsea now.

Schwarzer started his career as a 19 year old at Australian side Marconi Stallions. After playing 58 times in the National Soccer League he made the move to Europe and joined German side Dynamo Dresden, where he spent one season before moving on to fellow Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern. In his two years in Germany he only made six appearances.
Schwarzer Marconi
In the 1996-97 season he joined Bradford City and featured 16 times before being signed by Premier League side Middlesbrough in February 1997. The keeper made his debut in the semi final of the League Cup against Stockport County and helped them reach the final. He played the full 90 minutes of the final against Leicester City but after the game finished 1-1 an injury kept him out of the replay.

With the club suffering relegation at the end of the season Schwarzer was made their first choice goalkeeper and he helped them return to the Premier League on the first attempt. He kept his place in the side for the majority of the next ten seasons and despite a mistake in the final of the 2004 League Cup against Bolton Wanderers, he recovered well and helped the club lift their first ever trophy after winning the game 2-1. He would also play a key part in the club securing a place in Europe at the end of the 2004-05 season as he saved a last minute penalty against Manchester City which meant they finished in 7th place. Middlesbrough would go onto reach the final of the UEFA Cup and Schwarzer recovered from a fractured cheekbone to play in the match, however he could not stop them getting beat by Sevilla.
Middlesbrough v Cardiff City - FA Cup 6th Round
Despite being offered a new contract he left the club and joined Fulham on the 21st May 2008 after 445 games for Boro. In his first season he played every minute in the league and kept 10 clean sheets, helping Fulham to 7th place and was rewarded by being named Fulham’s Player of the Year.

For the next four seasons he was incredibly consistent and reached his second European final as Fulham got to the final of the Europa League in 2010 but once again he had to settle for a runners up medal. After the signing of Maarten Stekelenburg, Schwarzer left the club at the end of the 2012-13 season.
Schwarzer Fulham
On the 9th July 2013 he signed for Chelsea and was limited to League Cup appearances early on but did go on to become the oldest player to debut in the Champions League when he played against Steaua Bucharest and would then become Chelsea’s oldest player to play in the Premier League as he started against Sunderland at the age of 41 years and 195 days. He also played against Liverpool at Anfield and helped his side to a 2-0 win which was his 150th clean sheet in the Premier League.

The final word can go to Jose Mourinho. “Mark Schwarzer is what we need. Mark knows that he comes to be an important member of the squad. With Mark we have a goalkeeper who has played an incredible number of matches in the last 10 years in the Premier League and he is more than ready for this.”

2nd September – Frederic Kanoute

Yesterday a lot of Tottenham Hotspur fans were a little disappointed that they did not bring in another striker but today is the birthday of one of their former front men Frederic Kanoute.

The striker had a good time in England but didn’t always hit form while at White Hart Lane but he did offer them something different to what they already had at the club. After he left he really started to show his goalscoring prowess in Spain but it was not just his goals that made him an important member of the teams he played for and when he was confident defenders knew it would be tough to stop him.

Kanoute started his career at French club Lyon and made his debut in 1997 in the Intertoto Cup against Polish side Odra Wodzislaw. He had a very impressive start and in his first season he scored six times in 18 league games and although he had to spend more time on the bench over the next two seasons, he was still seen as a prospect around Europe and was being linked with big money moves away.

In 2000 West Ham signed the striker and he formed a very good partnership with Paolo Di Canio and hit double figures in his first two full seasons at the club. Kanoute was someone that half the crowd loved and the other half was constantly frustrated by him because he had a lot of ability and when he showed it, he was tough to stop but on other days he was labelled as lazy and criticised for his laid back attitude. In his final season at the club they ended up getting relegated and some argue it was because he only featured in 17 games.
Kanoute WH
He ended his time at West Ham with 29 Premier League goals in 84 games and on the 5th August 2003 he joined Tottenham for £3.5 million. He scored his first goal for the club on the 23rd August just nine minutes after coming on as a substitute against Leeds United in a 2-1 win. He started off well at Spurs but his season was disrupted as he went to represent Mali at the African Cup of Nations but after he returned he became a regular in the side and scored 12 goals in all competitions.
Kanoute TH
Although the goals were not flying in for him, his general play was still very good and he remained first choice for most of the next campaign but on the 17th August 2005 he was sold to Sevilla. In Spain he helped the club win the UEFA Cup in 2006 and 2007 and even scored in their 4-0 win over Middlesbrough in the final. In his seven seasons at the club he scored over 20 goals in four of those and despite only scoring four goals in his last season he remains the club’s highest scoring foreign player.
Kanoute Sevilla
At the end of his contract he decided to join Chinese club Beijing Guoan and stayed for a season and a half scoring 13 goals in 46 games before retiring from the game.

The final word can go to Harry Redknapp while they were both at West Ham. “Kanoute is a frightening talent. He’s been fantastic, he cost us a club record fee and has proved to be worth every penny. As his confidence grows so does his ability to do the job.”

1st September – Jose Antonio Reyes

With Arsenal fans desperate for their club to sign a striker on transfer deadline day, it is the birthday of one of their former forwards Jose Antonio Reyes.

Now at the age of 31 he may not have been prolific but was he a better option than their current crop of strikers? With Olivier Giroud out injured, they only have Yaya Sanogo as a recognised a striker and then others in Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell and Alexis Sanchez that can play upfront. Reyes may not have quite worked out as well for Arsenal as they hoped and maybe that is a warning to Arsenal fans who are begging for a signing.

The forward started his career at Sevilla and signed his first full contract in 1999, making his debut as a 16 year old against Real Zaragoza. Over the next four seasons he became well known around Europe as someone that can play in any of the forward positions and score from any angle. In his 86 league appearances for the club he scored 21 times.

Arsenal signed Reyes in the January transfer window of the 2003-04 season and made his debut in a 2-1 win against Manchester City. In his first half a season he scored five times in 21 games, helping Arsenal go unbeaten in the Premier League. In his first full season he started off brilliantly and many people thought that he was going to lead Arsenal to the title but midway through the season he began to struggle and remained inconsistent.
Reyes Arsenal
In early 2005 there were claims that Reyes was homesick and wanted to return to Spain and despite and helping Arsenal win the FA Cup in 2005 and then reach the final of the Champions League in 2006, he was very inconsistent and could not reproduce his best form. After 69 Premier League appearances and 16 goals he was included in a swap deal with Real Madrid.

Reyes was a regular for Madrid and scored some important goals, including his first on the 17th September 2006 with a free kick against Real Sociedad. More importantly he scored twice on the final day against Mallorca to help Madrid come from behind and not only win the game but also the league.

Despite this success he did not sign permanently and instead joined city rivals Atletico Madrid. He got off to a very poor start as he could not force his way into the side and failed to score in his 26 league appearances. After just one season it seemed like his time at the club was over as he left for Benfica on loan and had a better time scoring four goals in 26 games and producing better performances.
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After returning to Atletico, he was reunited with his manager from Benfica Quique Flores and became one of the most important members of the team. Over the next two seasons he played 90 games but after the manager left he lost his consistency and had a falling out with new manager Gregorio Manzano which led to him leaving the club and on the 5th January 2012 he rejoined Sevilla.
Reyes Sevilla
Although he is not as much a goalscoring threat for Sevilla, he does still play an important role and helped them win last season’s Europa League by scoring twice in nine games.

The final word can go to Arsene Wenger. “Jose Reyes is a fantastic signing. He can play in midfield or as a supporting striker. He can play on the left or on the right, in fact, anywhere as an offensive player. Jose will be a great asset to our squad.”

20th August – Alvaro Negredo

Alvaro Negredo started last season fantastically at Manchester City and despite a difficult end to the campaign it seems strange that he is being linked with moves away from the club.

23 goals in 48 games is a phenomenal record for a player at a new club in a different country and this is also while competing with the talents of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic for a starting place. A foot injury has stopped him being fit for the start of the season and it could be a blessing in disguise for both player and club because it means he is less likely to leave the club.

Negredo started his career at Rayo Vallecano and after impressing for the ‘B’ team (scoring 28 goals in 40 games) he made his professional debut in early 2005 in the second division of Spain. After scoring one goal in 12 games he moved to Real Madrid’s affiliate team Real Madrid Castilla and in his second season he scored 18 times which convinced first team manager Fabio Capello to put him in the Real Madrid squad for some Copa Del Rey games but he unfortunately did not make it onto the pitch.

In July 2007 he joined Almeria and the newly promoted side performed well above expectations and Negredo was a huge part of that. He ended the campaign as their top scorer with 13 goals, including strikes against Real Madrid in a 2-0 win and Sevilla in a 4-1 win. He followed this up with a brilliant start to the next season with five goals in the first six games and was a regular scorer right through the season and ended it with 19 goals in just 35 games.
Negredo Almeria
This form led to Real Madrid resigning the player due to a buyback clause in his contract but the manager at the time Manuel Pellegrini could not guarantee him first team football so he moved on almost straight away to Sevilla. Negredo later revealed that he admired Pellegrini’s honesty during the whole situation.

The 2009-10 season was interesting for the striker as he was first choice but he did go through some barren spells in front of goal and was also sent off three times over the course of the season, however he did still manage 14 goals in all competitions. 2010-11 was a much kinder season to Negredo as he continually scored goals and finished the season with braces against Villarreal, Deportivo, Real Madrid, Osasuna and Espanyol. He ended his second season with 27 goals in all competitions and was one of the most feared strikers in Spain.
Negredo Sevilla
His final season at the club ended with him finishing as the highest Spanish goalscorer in La Liga with 25 goals and was therefore awarded the Zarra Trophy. He was helped by scoring a hatrick in the victory over Celta Vigo and all four goals in a 4-3 win over Valencia on the last game of the season.

On the 19th July 2013 Negredo signed for Manchester City and helped the club win both the Premier League and the League Cup with 23 goals in his first season, including five in the Champions League.
Negredo MC
The final word can go to Tim Sherwood who compared him to Premier League record scorer Alan Shearer. “They both score goals. I haven’t studied Negredo as much as I knew Alan but they both score every type of goal, they hold the ball up well. He is probably the most similar to Shearer as there has been in recent years.”

2nd June – Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world and will be hoping that he can prove it at the World Cup.

The striker has achieved so much in the game and is only just turning 26 today but it is not surprising that he has became one of the best in the world. He made his professional debut for Independiente at the age of just 15 years and 35 days becoming the youngest player to play in the division. He did not play again for seven months but when he did he became the youngest player to play in the Copa Libertadoras. On the 26th November he scored his first goal in a 2-2 against Estudiantes. During the 2005-06 season he became a first team regular and scored 18 times in 36 league games and was being linked with moves the Europe.
Aguero Independiente
On the 30th May he joined Atletico Madrid and Argentina legend Diego Maradona had a lot of praise for the striker. “The fact that people haven’t seen much of him in Europe means he hasn’t got the exposure Messi has had. But Aguero is just as good.”

He didn’t settle straightaway in Spain and only scored six times in his first season but after Fernando Torres left for Liverpool, Aguero became the star man. Still only 19 he finished the season as the third highest goalscorer in La Liga at the end of the year with 19 goals. He scored important goals against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla and Villarreal that helped the club finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League for the first time in over 10 years.

In the next season he continued to get better as his partnership with Diego Forlan was improving and he scored his first Champions League goal in a 3-0 win over PSV. The 2009-10 season was a bit slower for everyone at the club but he managed to score twice against Chelsea in the Champions League. They were knocked out of the competition but won the Europa League with Aguero providing the assists for both goals in the final.
Aguero Atletico
His most successful season was the year after though as he scored 20 league goals and scored in seven consecutive games towards the end of the season. In his final game for the club he scored a hatrick against Mallorca with the second being his 100th for the club in all competitions.

On the 28th July 2011 he joined Manchester City for £38 million and made his debut on the opening day of the season against Swansea City. He came on as a substitute on the 59th minute and scored twice as well as providing a goal for David Silva. On his third start he scored his first hatrick in a 5-1 win over Wigan Athletic. He scored 23 times in his first season but the most important was with the last kick of the season that won the Premier League title for the club.
Aguero MC
The 2012-13 season was more difficult as he suffered an injury early on and it took him till the 29th September to score his first of the season. He went on to score another 11 Premier League goals as the club failed to defend their title but after missing the whole of the next preseason he started the season brilliantly by scoring against Newcastle United and then twice against Manchester United in a 4-1 win. On the 24th November he scored his 9th and 10th goals of the season against Tottenham Hotspur which meant that he now had the best minutes to goal ratio ever in the Premier League. He also scored five times in six league Champions League group games. He missed a lot of the season through injury but ended it with 28 goals in 34 games as well as winning back the Premier League title.

The final word can go to Ossie Ardiles. “He’s very, very quick and clever. He’s very intelligent and can score goals very, very easily. He lives to score goals, he’s a proper centre forward, he always wants to be close to the box.”

28th April – Diego Simeone

He was once most well known for being the man that got kicked by David Beckham at France 98 but he is now one of the most wanted managers in Europe.

Diego Simeone is close to giving the Atletico Madrid fans the season of their lives with the club currently leading the way in La Liga and one match away from the Champions League final. He is 44 today and even he couldn’t have imagined this year would have went so well, but as he showed his playing career he will do anything to make sure his team get their hands on the trophies at the end of the season.
Simeone Atletico
As a player he started out at Argentinean side Velez Sarsfield but after 76 league games he was on his way to Europe to play for Italian side Pisa. In his first season he got relegated with the club and when they failed to win promotion he moved to Sevilla in Spain. But it was when he made his move to Atletico Madrid that success came as he won the La Liga title and the Copa Del Rey during the 1995-96 season.

Afterwards he moved back to Italy and won more silverware, with Inter Milan he won the UEFA Cup and with Lazio under Sven Goran Eriksson he won the Italian League title after a dramatic final day and the Coppa Italia. Simeone then returned to Atletico in the summer of 2003 and played for two more seasons before returning to Argentina with Racing.
Simeone Lazio
On the international stage he played over 100 times for Argentina and he will be remembered for that incident in 1998 with David Beckham but in 2002 Beckham got his revenge by scoring a winning penalty. However Beckham learned more about the midfielder that day saying. “He showed me what a gentleman he is by coming up to me at half time and then at the end of the game shaking my hand. I have always said he is a good player and now we have a healthy respect for each other.”
Simeon Becks
After retiring he first became the manager of his final club Racing and although he was doing a decent job a change in ownership meant he was sacked. It did not take him long to get a new job as Estudiantes appointed him in the same month and Simeone repaid them by guiding them to their first title in 23 years and was later voted as the best manager in Argentina with former Argentine international Roberto Perfumo saying he was born to be a manager.

His next move was to River Plate where he did not have as much success but still had a good win percentage of 45.45%. After not winning for 11 games he handed in his resignation and was on the move to San Lorenzo where once again poor results did not help his cause and he was heavily criticised so he left them after 48 games.

Simeone decided to come back to Europe and managed Catania who he saved from relegation however he did not extend his contract and went back to managing Racing in Argentina but this only lasted 20 games and on the 23rd December 2011 he was appointed manager of Atletico Madrid. At the end of his first season he won the Europa League and then followed this up by beating Chelsea 4-1 in the Super Cup. They are now top of the league and are competing in their first Champions League semi final for the first time in 40 years.

The final word can go to his once nemesis now friend David Beckham. “I’ve been asked countless times if I have forgotten what he did in France 98. You have to forgive and forget. There is no lingering grudge between us – just mutual respect between people who regard each other as good players and professionals.”