12th May – Jamie Ward

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.

Soccer - Friendly - Chesterfield v Sheffield Wednesday - Saltergate

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.

Ward Sheffield United

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.

Ward Derby

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.”

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6th March – Garry Monk

Garry Monk will go down as a Swansea City legend for what he did as a player but he is also doing a fantastic job as their manager and leading them to another top half finish.

When Monk first joined the club he wouldn’t have believed that they would be in the Premier League never mind being one of the best footballing sides in the top flight. Many people were surprised when the 36 year old was given the job because he didn’t have any experience and they felt that under Monk they would be battling relegation. However, he knows everything about the club and the way they want to play.

The former central defender started his career at Torquay United and was very highly rated, making five appearances for the club before he had even turned professional. This meant other clubs were looking at him and he signed for Southampton at the end of the 1995-96 season. In 1998 he would return to Torquay on loan and once again impressed so on his return he found himself in the Southampton first team and made his debut on the 28th November 1998 against Derby County. He would go on to play a further four games over the season.

Monk Soton

In September 1999 he went out on loan to Stockport County but was recalled because of an injury crisis at his parent club and he played the first two matches in January 2000 for Southampton. A year later he went out on loan to Oxford United but once again he was recalled because of injuries and would go on to play the last two home games at The Dell against Manchester United and Arsenal which were both won by Southampton.

Monk struggled once more to become a first team regular so was sent out on loan again. This time it looked as though it would be turned into a permanent move but after playing 15 times for Sheffield Wednesday and not helping them avoid relegation to Division Two, the move didn’t materialise. He did eventually leave the club permanently and joined Barnsley in February 2004. However he only lasted half a season and left for Swansea City in June.

Monk SWFC

It was a great start for him at Swansea as he helped them get promoted from League Two in his first season and then reach the League One Playoffs in his second season. In August 2006 it was announced that he would be the club captain. Unfortunately after just two games in the 2006-07 season he picked up a cruciate ligament injury and was ruled out for the rest of the campaign. Monk returned to the team and captained the club to promotion.

In their first season back they were excellent and finished 8th place but the 2009-10 season was not the best for Monk as he struggled with injuries and only played 22 times. Also during this period Monk and the manager Paulo Sousa did not see eye to eye and after the Portuguese man left the club Monk was back in the starting 11. He would then lead the Swans to the Premier League after defeating Reading in the Playoff final and he was given a new three year contract by the club.

Monk SC

Over the next two seasons he began to play less but was still able to lift his first major trophy after Swansea won the League Cup in 2013 after defeating Bradford City 5-0 in the final. Just under a year later he would be given the manager’s job and currently has a 38% win percentage as manager.

The final word can go to someone that didn’t get on well with Monk but knew his quality, Paulo Sousa. “Garry is one of the players we think is very important to our project for his experience, quality and leadership. He is an important figure in the dressing room and on the pitch. He knows the club’s philosophy.”

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.”

27th September – Lloyd Sam

A lot of high profile players have gone over to America in recent years but there are others that have went over from England and made a big impression, like Lloyd Sam.

The 30 year old plays alongside world superstars such as Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill as well as others that have played in England such as Bobby Convey, Richard Eckersley and Bradley Wright-Phillips. So Sam will certainly feel at home at the New York Red Bulls and is known as someone that can use his pace and direct running to create chances for his teammates and it is no surprise to see him setting up a lot of goals.

Sam started his career at Charlton Athletic and became a professional in 2003 at the age of 18. He began to impress in the youth team and was called up to the first team squad for a game against Arsenal but unfortunately did not get on the pitch. He then went out on loan to get some more first team experience and joined Leyton Orient in 2004 and played 10 times for the club before returning to Charlton and making his debut for them on the final day of the 2004-05 season against Crystal Palace.
Sam CA
His opportunities were still limited and after playing just twice in the following season, he went out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday and Southend United during the 2006-07 season. Sam did also play seven times in the Premier League that season but unfortunately Charlton were relegated but this meant that the winger was now going to get a chance in the first team on a regular basis.

At the start of the season he was a bright spot for Charlton and scored his first professional goal against Stockport County in the League Cup. After this the club began to struggle and after missing out on promotion they started to fall down the table and were relegated once more at the end of the 2008-09 season. They narrowly missed out on a return to the Championship with Sam playing 43 league games as they lost in the playoff semi finals against Swindon Town.

After not being offered a new contract he joined Leeds United on a free transfer on the 9th July 2010 but he did not make a great start as he gave away a penalty on his debut against Derby County in a 2-1 defeat. However, in the next league game he scored against Nottingham Forest and also received the man of the match for his performance. He then went on to score against Millwall on 21st August but this positive start did not last as Sam suffered several niggling injuries which kept him out of action for long periods.
LEEDS UNITED V LINCOLN CITY CARLING CUP  10/8/2010
He only featured in 18 league games for Leeds in his first season and did extra work in preseason to get himself fit for the new season and in the friendly matches he provided a lot of assists and topped it off by scoring in a 3-1 win over Newcastle United. This was still not good enough to get him a regular place in the side and on the 14th March 2012 joined Notts County on loan for the rest of the season and scored five goals in 10 games, including a hatrick against Yeovil Town in a 3-1 win.

When his contract came to an end at Leeds he signed for New York Red Bulls on the 16th August 2012 and impressed in his first five games before and injury ruled him out for the rest of the season. He has now recovered from this and helped the club win its first ever Supporters’ Shield in 2013, scoring the third goal in a 5-2 win over Chicago Fire.
Lloyd Sam
The final word can go to the Notts County manager that brought him in on loan Keith Curle. “I like Lloyd. It took him a bit of time to settle at first, but in the end he was enjoying it and was playing free flowing, entertaining, attacking football. Lloyd just keeps getting better and better.”

25th September – Glenn Murray

Glenn Murray has to be one of the unluckiest players ever after working so hard to get to the Premier League and then miss pretty much the whole campaign must have been hard to take.

At the age of 31 he is at the stage of his career where it is unlikely that a Premier League team will take a chance on him and he will have to be at a club that gets promoted. He is still contracted to Crystal Palace but is currently on loan at Reading.

The striker started his career at non league side Workington Reds before going to America to sign for Wilmington Hammerheads, where he spent one season, scoring three goals in 14 games before returning to England. He joined Barrow and impressed with seven goals in seven games and earned a move to Conference side Carlisle United.
Murray CU
He did not have the greatest goal scoring record at Carlisle but played a part in two successive promotions as they won the Conference Playoffs in 2005 and then won League Two a season later. But he would only go on to play one League One game for the club and had to join Stockport County to get regular football and in two months he played 11 games and scored three goals. After initially joining Rochdale on loan he signed for them permanently in January 2007. During his loan spell he scored four goals in 12 games. He finished the 2006-07 season with 16 goals in 31 league games and was seen as the player that could lead the club to promotion.

The 2007-08 season started well for the striker and after nine goals in 23 games, Murray joined League One side Brighton in January. He made his debut in a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Northampton Town but on his home debut he scored twice in a 3-0 win over Crewe. He ended the season with eight goals in 21 games.
Murray BH
Injuries in the following campaign restricted his playing time but he did still manage 12 goals and had a similar record in the 2009-10 season. His final year at Brighton proved to be his most successful as he scored 22 goals in 42 league games. After he rejected Brighton’s new contract offer he left after hitting the back of the net 53 times in the league for the club.

This was forgotten by the Brighton fans after he signed for their rivals Crystal Palace in May 2011. But his first season wasn’t as successful as he hoped as he only scored six times but the 2012-13 season must have been like a dream for the striker. On the 22nd September he scored a 20 minute hatrick against Cardiff City and followed this up with more goals and another hatrick in November against Ipswich Town.

At times he was unstoppable and before Christmas he had scored 22 goals which is a record. However, his dream soon turned into a nightmare as he picked up a serious knee injury but his 30 goals in 42 games were good enough to help Palace get promoted. Murray eventually returned on the 8th February 2014 as a substitute against West Brom.
Murray CP
Since he has only played 15 Premier League games and on the 1st September 2014 he was loaned out to Reading. On his debut he scored twice against Fulham in a 3-0 win but he did miss a penalty against Sheffield Wednesday in the following game.

The final word can go to Ian Holloway. “There are not many strikers who have got 30 in one season. What he’s done is phenomenal. It’s not just that. It’s his work rate, he leads the line and how he brings other people into the game is as good as I’ve seen.”

27th August – Dietmar Hamann

Dietmar Hamann came on at halftime in the 2005 Champions League final for Liverpool and at that point they were 3-0 down and although he doesn’t get the headlines he played a crucial role in them lifting the trophy.

The holding midfielder coming on allowed Steven Gerrard to push further forward and get into the box. For his part in the final he will always be a legend in the Liverpool fans eyes but he was also a very consistent performer and he never let down any of the teams he played for.

Hamann started his career at little known German club FC Wacker Munchen and after impressing for them he joined Bayern Munich at the age of 16 in 1989 and eventually made his debut in 1993. In his first season he played in the unfamiliar position of right midfield and scored one goal in his six appearances. After several injuries to first team players Hamann became a regular as the holding midfielder and played 30 times in the Bundesliga. The 1995-96 season was difficult for the club and he was one of the few bright spots, however they did still end up winning the UEFA Cup.
Hamann BM
For the next two seasons he was a regular in the side and added a Bundesliga title to his medal collection but after 105 league games it was time for him to leave the club and joined Newcastle United in 1998 for £5.5 million. After a foot injury he recovered to become a fantastic signing and scored five goals in 31 matches. This turned out to be his only season at the club as he joined Liverpool in July 1999 for £8 million.

The midfielder was very influential throughout his time at Liverpool and by the time he left £8 million was a bargain. The 2000-01 season was very successful for both him personally and Liverpool as they won the League Cup, FA Cup and the UEFA Cup with Hamann playing 53 times in all competitions and scoring three goals. Over the next few seasons he was a regular side and although he is mostly remembered for his contribution in the final of the 2005 Champions League final, he also had a major impact earlier on in the competition. In the first leg of the round of 16 against Bayer Leverkusen he put in a fantastic display and finished it off by scoring the final goal in a 3-1 win. He also took the first penalty in the shootout win over AC Milan.
Hamann Liverpool
In the following season Liverpool won the FA Cup on penalties and once again Hamann had the bravery to take the first spot kick and scored with what would be his last kick for the club. In the summer he joined Manchester City after being at Bolton Wanderers for one day and then having a change of heart. City had to play £400,000 for the midfielder. He spent three seasons at City and played 54 times in the Premier League but was then released in 2009 and spent a year out of the game before becoming player-coach at MK Dons on a one year contract.
Hamann MC
He played 12 times for the club before joining Leicester City as a coach on the 3rd February 2011. After this he had a short spell in charge of Stockport County where he only won three games in his 20 matches in charge.

Hamann also gets the honour of scoring the last goal at the old Wembley Stadium for Germany in a 1-0 win over England.

The final word can go to Stuart Pearce. “I am delighted he is here as he brings experience and leadership qualities to the team. He has everything. If you get more winners like him in your squad, you are going in the right direction.”

20th July – Damien Delaney

Not many people expected Crystal Palace to avoid relegation last season but they defied the odds and a big part of that was because of the performances of Damien Delaney.

Delaney turns 33 today and only missed one Premier League games all season which just shows how vital he was to the team and three different managers over the course of the season decided that he was good enough for the side. Palace started the season with Ian Holloway in charge and then Keith Millen took over temporarily before Tony Pulis came in to guide the club to safety and Delaney was very consistent throughout.

The centre back started his career at Cork City before being signed by Leicester City who were in the Premier League at the time. In total he made eight appearances in the league for the club and also had loan spells at Stockport County, Huddersfield Town and Mansfield Town. It was at Stockport where he scored his first career goal against Rotherham United.

Peter Taylor was the manager that brought him to England and it wasn’t long before he signed him again. On the 17th October 2002 Taylor made Delaney his first signing at Hull City for £50,000. His early career at Hull was not the best and he struggled to keep his place in the team but this was down to the fact he was used in a variety of positions, including left back and in midfield. When he was moved to centre back he found his feet and began to show his true potential and was voted the Player of the Year in the 2003-04 promotion winning season and although he didn’t score many goals, his against Rochdale that season was voted Goal of the Season.
Delaney Hull
Back in the Championship Delaney started to play in a number of positions once again but now he was much older and had more experience to cover these roles. He as a key asset all through his time at Hull and will go down in history as the last Hull City player to score at Boothferry Park before they moved to their new stadium.

He stayed until January 2008 and he played 224 times in the league for Hull before signing for QPR. After signing a three and a half year deal at the club a lot was expected of him and it was not long before he scored his first goal against Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-1 away defeat. He however only stayed at the club until the summer of 2009 when he signed for Ipswich Town.
Delaney Ipswich
They paid an initial £750,000 for his services but after a freak injury in the next summer he almost lost his leg. He had a blood clot in his thigh which meant that he had had to have emergency surgery. After recovering from this he scored his first goal for the club against local rivals Norwich City but was sent off soon afterwards.

After making over 100 appearances for the club he left by mutual consent in 2012 and signed for Crystal Palace. He was a key player in their promotion winning season and then keeping them in the Premier League.
Delaney CP
The final word can go to Keith Millen. “I think he was thinking of quitting the game or moving abroad to America. For him to go there in his career to having two great years at Palace, he’s been so consistent. I think that has coincided with how the team has been set up as well this season.”