12th June – Thomas Sorensen

Thomas Sorensen was a fantastic goalkeeper for a long time in the Premier League and will be disappointed with how all of his former teams have done this season.

The keeper, who played over 100 times for Denmark, will be hoping that his national side will perform better in the 2018 World Cup. Sorensen knows about the pressure of playing for his country as well as being the man that replaced Peter Schmeichel.

Sorensen started his career at Odense but didn’t manage to play a first team game for the club and had to go out on loan to Vejle in December 1995. After an impressive start he was dubbed the new Schmeichel but after a mistake against Viborg, he was dropped and wouldn’t play for the club again. He returned to his parent club but was again loaned out, this time to Svendborg, and he played the full season as number one.

In the summer of 1998, Sorensen moved to Division One club Sunderland and was an instant success smashing the club’s record of clean sheets with 29 as the club won the title and returned to the Premier League. In their first two seasons back, he helped them finish 7th in the league and gain hero status by saving a penalty from Alan Shearer in a victory over rivals Newcastle United. Injuries cost the side during the 2002-03 season with the keeper only playing 21 games and they were eventually relegated from the top flight.

Sorensen Sunderland

After 197 games and being courted by many big clubs, it was time for the Dane to move on and he signed for Aston Villa for £2 million. In his first three seasons he was their undisputed number one, only missing four games, and once again delighted both the Villa and Sunderland fans by saving another Alan Shearer penalty. During the 2007-08 season he was replaced by Scott Carson as the number one and decided it was time to leave at the end of the campaign.

Sorensen AV

Stoke City signed the keeper after a trial and was made first choice, helping the club to a 12th place finish in their first ever Premier League season. While at Stoke he became a penalty saving expert and he saved five out of six he faced but his position was coming under threat from new signing Asmir Begovic. He started the first nine games of the 2010-11 season, however this would be the last time he would be first choice and in his last three seasons at the club he would only feature 12 times.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Stoke City v Bolton Wanderers - Britannia Stadium

His last career move was to Australian side Melbourne City on a two year deal. He played 30 times in his first season but then only 10 in the next campaign so at the age of 41 and 575 appearances to his name Sorensen decided to retire.

The final word can go to former Stoke manager Tony Pulis. “Thomas is a fantastic acquisition. I believe he is a very, very good goalkeeper.

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4th October – Ryan Shawcross

Ryan Shawcross may have been disappointed in Stoke City’s 3-1 defeat away to Sunderland but he has quickly became one of the most consistent centre backs in the Premier League.

The 27 year old is Stoke’s captain and the one time England international could count himself unlucky that he doesn’t get into Roy Hodgson’s squad on a regular basis as he is at least the same standard than those that do play for the country. Shawcross has helped the club become a solid Premier League side and one that are usually very difficult to beat and although their form has been patchy this season, they should not battle against relegation and be aiming for the top half.

Shawcross started his career at Manchester United and made his first team debut as a substitute against Crewe in the third round of the League Cup on the 25th October 2006. To gain first team experience, the centre back was sent out on loan to Belgian side Antwerp in January 2007, where in his 22 appearances he scored three times and helped them reach the Second Division playoffs.
Shawcross MU
In the summer he returned to Old Trafford but he wouldn’t stay for long as he was loaned out once again, this time to Stoke City and made a fantastic start to his time at the club by scoring the only goal against Cardiff City on his debut. He continued to impress everyone and was named the Championship Player of the Month in October 2007.

With Stoke looking like one of the teams that would be challenging for promotion they moved quickly to sign Shawcross permanently and on the 18th January 2008, Stoke paid £1 million for the centre back with the fee eventually rising to £2 million after they were promoted. In his first season at the club he played 41 league games and scored seven goals.
Shawcross SC
After starting in Stoke’s first Premier League game he soon lost his place to new signing Ibrahima Sonko but would go onto regain his place in the side and help the team avoid relegation. He scored against Aston Villa, Everton and Middlesbrough and was soon being linked to other Premier League clubs but manager Tony Pulis laughed off the speculation that he would leave.

In the 2009-10 season he scored on the opening day against Burnley in a 2-0 win and he would continue to be very consistent. However, he had a very mixed day on the 27th February 2010 as he was called up to the England squad for the first time but unfortunately he had been involved in an incident against Arsenal that would see him being sent off and Aaron Ramsey suffering a broken leg after a tackle from the centre back. The defender was clearly upset by the incident as he was seen crying as he left the pitch.
Shawcross Eng
He recovered from this and was handed the captain’s armband at the start of the 2010-11 season and led his team to the FA Cup final which they lost 1-0 against Manchester City but qualified for the Europa League in the process. This meant he had a much busier season in the next campaign and played 49 out of the club’s 56 games.

Since being given the captaincy he has barely missed a game and on the 12th April 2014 he became the first Stoke player to ever play 200 games in the Premier League and last season he only missed one game as Stoke finished 9th and he was awarded the Player of the Year award.

The final word can go to Mark Hughes. “Ryan’s had an exceptional season. There are very few centre halves I’ve seen who are head and shoulders above him. I find it difficult to comprehend that he doesn’t get a mention for England. If he was picked, he wouldn’t let anyone down.”

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.”