Jamie Ward at only 5 foot 5 might have been told at times that he was too small to become a professional but he has spent the majority of his career in one of the toughest leagues in the world.
The Northern Ireland international has enjoyed a lot of good spells during his career and even though his goal record is not superb he has always been appreciated for the work he puts in.
Ward started his career at Aston Villa and despite being involved in a car accident in 2004 he gained a professional contract in 2005 and later became captain of the reserve team. He had to wait until a loan spell at Stockport County to make his first team debut and in his short spell he managed one goal.
After being released by Villa in 2006 he signed for Torquay United and performed well during his time there but after just 25 appearances he requested a transfer and moved to Chesterfield in January 2007. Despite injuries he managed 12 goals for the club in his first season and was being linked with moves away and after rejecting a new contract offer it looked as though the striker was going to move to Barnsley. However, he could not agree personal terms and moved to Sheffield United.
His time with the Blades had some ups and downs including being sent off in the 2009 Playoff Final against Burnley but after coming back from suspension in the following season he scored four goals in the first seven games including the opening goal against Sheffield Wednesday. Injuries caught up to him and he never regained his form and this led to a loan move to Derby County.
During his loan spell he scored five goals in 13 games helping his new side stay up while his parent club were relegated from the Championship. In his first full season with the club he wasn’t at his best but once again he became a fan favourite by scoring a goal against their rivals Nottingham Forest in a 2-1 win.
Injuries during the 2012-13 season stopped him from reaching his full potential once again but despite missing significant portions of the season he managed 12 goals in 26 games and finished third in the player of the season votes. A few more decent seasons followed but then he made the shock decision to sign for Nottingham Forest on the 2nd July 2015, especially after some of his antics in recent derby games.
Although still at Forest, he hasn’t really hit the heights and and has been out on loan twice since signing, firstly to Burton Albion and then to Cardiff City. Ward will be hoping that he can get his injuries behind him next year and reach 100 goals in his career.
The final word can go to former manager Nigel Clough. “He’s a niggly little so-and-so, one of those players you don’t like playing against. We need that feistiness. He gives us options.”