1st November – Carl Cort

Newcastle United have a history of having great strikers and sometimes it is tough to live up to the expectations in the North East but unfortunately for Carl Cort he never got the chance to show his true potential.

The striker had a lot of potential and could have become an England international had it not been for the amount of time he spent on the sidelines. He was one of the many young players that Bobby Robson brought to St James’ Park but unlike the others he never got a run in the side.

Now 37, Cort started his career at Wimbledon but had his first taste of professional football on loan at Lincoln City in February 1997, where scored once in six games before returning to his parent club and making his debut on the 9th April against Aston Villa. Cort would have to wait until the 13th September to make another appearance and he showed his potential by scoring in the first minute against Newcastle in a 3-1 win. He followed this up three days later with a double against Millwall in the League Cup. His greatest moment in a Wimbledon shirt was also in the League Cup as he scored a hatrick against Sunderland in October 1999.
Cort Wimbledon
After 16 league goals in 73 games and an impressive goal record for the England under 21s, he joined Newcastle in the summer of 2000 for £7 million. He made his debut against Manchester United and then scored on his home debut against Derby County. However, this would be one of the few high points at the club as he began to struggle with hamstring problems kept him out for a long time. He eventually returned in March 2001 and scored five times in the final 10 games.

But during the 2001-02 season he suffered more injuries and barely played. With seven goals in 22 games it shows that when he was on the pitch he was a fantastic option and one that could have made a big difference to the side. But the problem was that he only made 22 league appearances in three and a half seasons.
Cort NUFC
In January 2004 he joined Wolves for £2 million and scored five times before the end of the season but this was not good enough to keep the club in the Premier League. During the 2004-05 season he had a relatively injury free season and he was a regular goalscorer, hitting the back of the net 16 times and causing a lot of problems for opposition defences. Cort began the following campaign in phenomenal form, scoring nine goals in the first 11 games but unfortunately his old injury problems returned and he only managed another 13 appearances and two goals over the rest of the season. After another season of injuries he was released by Wolves in May 2007.
Cort WW
On the 8th June 2007 he signed for Leicester City but this was a largely unsuccessful time as he only scored once in the League Cup and was released on the 11th January, allowing him to join Spanish side Marbella. After seven appearances and one goal he returned to England and signed for Norwich City. He scored once for the club against former team Wolves but this was not enough to stop Norwich getting relegated to League One.

After leaving Norwich, Cort spent the next two seasons at Brentford and scored six times in his 31 league games for the club. But on the 10th August 2012 he joined American side Tampa Bay Rowdies and has been there since.

The final word can go to Bobby Robson. “I still have a lot of faith in his ability. When he first came to the club he looked superb alongside Alan Shearer and he did very well for us. We did our research and we knew what a good player he was. It’s not his fault he has been injured the whole time.”

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18th October – Robbie Savage

Robbie Savage has definitely spilt opinion throughout his career, some love his antics whereas others hate him but one thing that nobody can deny is that he put in a lot of effort while out on the pitch and didn’t let down the fans.

Now a pundit, the 40 year old likes to be controversial and say things that will upset people and he is not shy in giving his opinions. Recently he has put across the point that footballers don’t care how much fans pay to support their team but at least he came out and gave his honest opinion rather than one he doesn’t believe.

Savage started his career at Manchester United and was part of the 1992 FA Youth Cup winning team which has become known as the ‘Class of 92’ however unlike David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville he never made it at Old Trafford and failed to play a game for the club and joined Crewe Alexandra in 1994. The midfielder was an instant success at his new club and in his first two seasons he helped them reach the Division Two playoffs and then they finally made it third time lucky and were promoted via the playoffs in 1997. Shortly after promotion Savage handed in a transfer request and he ended his time at the club with 10 goals in 87 games.

In July 1997 he joined Leicester City for a fee of £400,000 and became known as a reliable and fiery midfielder and became a fans favourite but was largely hated by the opposition. In his five years at the club he reached two League Cup finals and in the first he was involved in an incident with Tottenham Hotspur player Justin Edinburgh that got the Spurs man sent off. Savage had to wait a year to pick up a winners medal as they saw off Tranmere Rovers in the 2000 final. After Leicester were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2001-02 season Savage joined Birmingham City for £1.25 million.
Savage Leicester
Savage was once again a key player for the club and he played a vital role in keeping the club in the Premier League for two seasons but he handed in a transfer request and on the 19th January he joined Blackburn Rovers. In his first half a season at Blackburn he also played a key part in keeping them in the top flight and in the 2005-06 season he was a very consistent performer and helped the club reach the UEFA Cup and in the following campaign he scored in the competition against Salzburg and Wisla Krakow. However, a broken leg in January meant that he would miss the rest of the season. During the 2007-08 season he suffered a few more injury problems and struggled to break into the starting eleven meaning that on the 9th January 2008 he left for Derby County.
Savage BC
He could not stop relegation from the Premier League and even though it was not his fault, his performances were poor. After an equally poor start to the following season he was dropped by manager Paul Jewell and was sent out on loan to Brighton in October 2008, where he played six times. After Jewell was sacked, Nigel Clough put him back in the team and would also become captain of the club in the following season.
Although it was another disappointing one for the club, on a personal not Savage must have been happy as he played 51 times and was named the club’s Player of the Year. He did not miss many games while Clough was in charge and went on to play 137 times for the club before retiring in 2011.
Savage Derby
The final word can go to Alex McLeish. “I Like Robbie. I think he brings colour to the game. He has had a good career, he is a good player, a guy who rallies his team. He annoys the life out of the opposition and he can instigate a fight in an empty barn.”

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.”

22nd September – Emmanuel Petit

Emmanuel Petit may be more famous for his footballing ability but did you know he was also an actor and starred in a Christmas episode of The Bill?

It may have only been a one off but it is definitely something not many players can claim and adds to his interesting life off the pitch. He also won £17,000 on a fruit machine and kindly gave it all away to charity and after his career had ended he then shaved off his hair for charity in July 2011. He may have been kind off the pitch but when he got on it there were few that could compete with his power and his determination to win.

Petit started his career at the small French side ES Arques-la-Bataille before being spotted by Arsene Wenger. The manager subsequently signed the 18 year old for Monaco in 1988 and he made his debut soon after, featuring in the club’s run to the 1989 French Cup final, which he also played a part in. Petit had a lot of success for Monaco and after becoming a regular in the midfield he helped them win the French Cup in 1991 and reach the European Cup Winners’ Cup final in the following season.
Petit Monaco
In the 1996-97 season he became the club captain and led them to the Ligue 1 title but after 292 games and five goals it was time for him to leave and try his hand in a different league. Petit was reunited with Wenger after Arsenal paid £2.5 million for the midfielder in June 1997. Him and fellow countryman Patrick Vieira formed one of the best central midfield partnerships ever seen in the Premier League and over the next three years they went on to dominate the middle of the pitch. With these two in the side they were a team to be feared and it was unsurprising that at the end of the Petit’s first season at the club Arsenal won the double.
Petit Arsenal
He made 118 appearances for the club and scored 11 goals before signing for Barcelona in the summer of 2000 for £7 million. The midfielder struggled in Spain, largely because he was played out of position and had a lot of niggling injuries that stopped him from reaching top form. In the Frenchman’s autobiography he claims that the Barcelona coach at the time, Llorenc Serra Ferrer, did not even know where he played when he first signed for the club.

After a miserable season, he returned to England and joined Chelsea. He was a first team regular to begin with but Chelsea had a disappointing season and although they reached the FA Cup final it was still seen as a failure. The following season things got a lot better as Petit and Frank Lampard had a fantastic understanding and drove the team forward to a fourth place finish and Champions League qualification.
Petit Chelsea
A knee injury ruined the rest of his career and despite having offers from other clubs he decided to retire on the 20th January 2005.

The final word can go to Arsene Wenger. “I know Manu well enough – because I gave him his start. He was fantastic. I feel his home is at Arsenal Football Club. We were lucky at Arsenal to have Petit at the peak of his career. He was a tremendous player.”

26th August – Colin Kazim-Richards

Colin Kazim-Richards was once dubbed the ‘Coca Cola Kid’ after the company ran a competition for football fans to sign a player for their club.

Kazim-Richards was the player that Brighton signed after a fan of their club won the competition and the £250,000 was given to the club to sign a player. This is an extraordinary start to a career that just kept on getting more incredible as it went on with the striker travelling over Europe to play football and also represent Turkey’s national team despite being brought up in England but qualified for Turkey through his mother.

The striker started his career at Bury and after progressing through their youth team he was already attracting attention from bigger clubs at the age of 15. He broke into the first team in the 2004-05 season and scored three times in 30 appearances but his performances were very impressive for someone so young. It was at the age of 18 he signed for Brighton but as expected he played a lot from the bench in his first season at the club, however his still managed six goals, including their 5000th league goal.
Kazim Richards Brighton
He only stayed at the club for one season and submitted a transfer request which Brighton accepted and then sold him to Sheffield United for £125,000 on the 31st August 2006. He once again only lasted one season at the club and in his 27 league games he only managed one goal in a 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers.

On the 15th June 2007 he joined Turkish club Fenerbahce and in his first two seasons at the club he was in and out of the first team but he did manage to score in the Champions League quarter final against Chelsea on the 2nd April 2008. Despite his good performances when he was on the pitch he had a difficult relationship with the fans at times and was loaned out to French club Toulouse in January 2010 and scored on his debut in a 3-1 win over Le Mans.
Kazim Richards Fener
After 18 appearances and two goals he returned to Fenerbahce but after just another five games he was released on the 3rd January 2011 and joined local rivals Galatasaray and in his first half a season he scored five times including one against former club Fenerbahce. After a total of 35 games and seven goals and a short loan spell at Olympiakos, Kazim-Richards returned to England.
Kazim Richards Gala
Blackburn Rovers signed the striker on loan but his time at the club was blighted by a court appearance over an alleged homophobic gesture in a match away to former club Brighton. He managed to score five times in his 31 games but his loan was not made permanent and he signed for Bursaspor on the 4th September 2013 on a four year deal but after just one season he has joined Dutch side Feyenoord on loan.

The final word can go to former Blackburn manager Steve Kean. “He could be a real versatile player for us as he can play through the middle or he can play out wide. He’s got great power in his right foot and technically he has improved dramatically having played with some top players out in Turkey.”

15th August – Bolo Zenden

Boudewijn ‘Bolo’ Zenden is 38 today but his career path could have been very different had he decided to go a different route as a youngster.

At the age of 14 Zenden gained a black belt in judo and on the odd occasion he decided to show his teammates his skills as Phil Bardsley once said. “He’s a judo black belt and used to do a few moves on me. I used to say, ‘show me’ – he put me in a move one day and I couldn’t get out. He nearly killed me.” Zenden was also a very good footballer and produced some fantastic performances.

Zenden started his career in Dutch football with PSV Eindhoven and it did not take him long to make the left midfield position his own. For two years he was a very consistent player that produced solid performances but it was in the 1996-97 season that he really showed his quality, playing 34 times and scoring eight goals which helped PSV win the Eredivisie championship and received the Dutch Talent of the Year award. After another season in which he scored 12 goals in 26 games he was being linked with moves away and moved to Spanish giants Barcelona in 1998.
Zenden PSV
Louis Van Gaal was the man to bring to him to Barcelona along with a number of other Dutch players and at first he struggled to gain a place in the team because of the form of Marc Overmars but did eventually find a place in the team in the unfamiliar position of left wing back. Zenden adapted to his new role very well and helped Barcelona win La Liga in the 1998-99 season. In the following season he scored three times for the club in his 45 appearances but this would be his last as a regular. Van Gaal resigned in 2000 and Zenden struggled to get in the side afterwards and at the end of the season he left.
Zenden Barca
Chelsea signed him for £7.5 million but in his three years he could not hold down a regular place however he did start in the 2002 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal. Zenden was determined to make it in England and was loaned to Middlesbrough for the 2002-03 season where he became an instant hit with fans and will always be remembered for scoring the winning goal in the League Cup final against Bolton Wanderers. After his contract expired at Chelsea he signed for Boro permanently and moved into a central midfield position to great effect as he won the Player of the Year Award in 2005, however this would be his last at the club and he joined Liverpool on a free transfer.
Zenden Boro
Injuries stopped him playing a more prominent role but whenever he was on the pitch he never let the team down and in his two years at the club he only managed 23 games in the Premier League but featured in a lot of European games.

On the 6th July 2007 Zenden signed a two year contract with French club Marseille and made his debut against Rennes. His time at France was uneventful and after two seasons he was released and said that he wanted to end his career in England which he was given the opportunity to do when he was given a trial by Sunderland.

He signed for them in time to make his debut against former club Liverpool. Despite most of his appearances coming from the substitutes bench he signed a new one year contract and this would be his final season as a player. On his last game in club football he scored the opening goal in a 3-0 win over West Ham.

The final word can go to his manager at Sunderland Steve Bruce. “It was immediately obvious that he is still supremely fit and the move happened fairly quickly. He brings international class, a steadying influence and a wide breadth of experience. His career is testament

12th August – Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli is loved by a lot of football fans but this is not always because of what he does on the pitch and has gained a lot of attention for his antics off the pitch.

While he does do some extraordinary things off the field, he certainly has proved over the years that he is a phenomenal footballer and a lot of people forget. At the age of just 24 he has the potential to become one of the best goal scorers in the game and one of the most feared strikers in the world. One thing that can always be said about Balotelli is that he turns up on the big occasion.

Balotelli began his career at Lumezzane and made his debut in Serie C1 at the age of just 15 against Padova on the 2nd April 2006. He was linked with big clubs in Europe and joined Inter Milan. He made his Serie A debut against Cagliari on the 16th December 2007 and three days later he scored twice in a Coppa Italia game against Reggina and then gained even more attention after scoring twice against Juventus in the same competition.
Balotelli Inter
In the following season he became Inter’s youngest ever scorer in the Champions League after netting against Anorthosis Famagusta. However, his second year was more difficult as him and then manager Jose Mourinho did not get along and he was frozen out of the squad. Despite this and him having to make a lot of appearances as a substitute he still managed to score 20 league goals in just 59 games before leaving.

Manchester City signed the striker and he made his Premier League debut against Arsenal on the 24th October but he had to wait until the 7th November before scoring his first goals for the club in a 2-0 win over West Brom. However, in the same game he was sent off. But he recovered from this and scored a hatrick against Aston Villa in December and was then later named man of the match in the final of the FA Cup which they won 1-0.
Balotelli MC
The striker then started the new season brilliantly with three goals early on and then the opening two goals in the 6-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. After the first goal he also revealed a t-shirt that said ‘why always me’. Despite a very good season in which he scored 17 times in 32 games in all competitions he also picked up his four red cards during the season and it looked like manager Roberto Mancini had lost patience with his striker. However, when he was most needed he turned up for City and provided the assist for the Sergio Aguero goal that won them the Premier League title in the 94th minute against QPR.

His final season at City was much tougher after only scoring one Premier League goal in 14 games before leaving in January 2013 for AC Milan. He was sensational for the club straight away and proved his quality by scoring twice on his debut and then went on to finish the season with 12 goals in just 13 games.
Balotelli AC
Last season Balotelli kept up a good goalscoring record by hitting the back of the 14 times in Serie A and was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible season for the Italian club.

The final word can go to Roberto Mancini. “I think that Mario is one of the best players of his age in Europe. His style of play will suit the Premier League, and because he is still so young there is a big chance to improve. He is strong and exciting player, and City fans will enjoy watching him.”