25th March – Mehmet Ekici

Mehmet Ekici might not be the biggest name in world football but he is proving that he is a fantastic footballer in Turkey and one that will probably be linked with a move to England in the near future.

The midfielder has always had very good ability but now he is back in Turkey he is proving that he can grab goals from the middle of the pitch. He obviously learnt a lot from his early years in Germany and has benefitted from that which is why it is not a surprise to see him performing so well at the moment in a league that is nowhere near as strong. Ekici is now 25 and will be hoping that he can get one more chance at least in the better leagues in Europe.

He started his career at Bayern Munich and featured regularly for the second team from 2007 and was one of their more impressive players during the 2009-10 season which saw him score 12 goals in 29 games and this caught the attention of the first team as he was promoted to the squad along with David Alaba. He was included in the Champions League squads for two seasons but unfortunately never got on the pitch and injuries stopped him from getting him on the pitch in other competitions.

Ekici BM

To guarantee more first team opportunities in July 2010 he joined Nurnberg on a season long loan to prove that he could cope with the top flight in Germany. He would go on to play 34 times in all competitions and score four goals and get eight assists which was a decent season and it led to him being linked with permanent moves away from Bayern Munich.

On the 18th May 2011 he did leave permanently and joined Werder Bremen for a fee believed to be around €5 million. He got off to a good start at his new club and scored his first goal on the 17th September 2011 against his former team Nurnberg. However, he struggled to keep his place in the team on a regular basis and over the next three seasons he only played 41 league games and he was slightly forgotten about.

1. FC Nürnberg - Eintracht Frankfurt 3:0

This meant he needed something new to kick start his career and so on 15th August 2014 he joined Turkish side Trabzonspor. Once again he has started to show his talents and so far this season so far scored nine goals in 21 league games which has brought him to the attention of other clubs. It will be interesting to see where his career can take him next but he will certainly want to be adding to his 10 international caps which is not as many as he should have gotten as he was very well liked by former manager Guus Hiddink.

Ekici WB

The final word can go to Werder Bremen sporting director Klaus Allofs. “We are delighted to have found in Mehmet a player that fits perfectly into our plans. He is a young player with German roots, who has had a strong season.”

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11th March – Didier Drogba

Chelsea have been regulars in the knockout stages of the Champions League for a long time and owe a lot of this to striker Didier Drogba and he will forever go down as one of their greatest ever players.

Hitting over 100 Premier League goals and being the club’s fourth highest goalscorer of all time just shows his worth but now at the age of 37 he is still causing problems and will have a say on how Chelsea do. With the League Cup already in the bag, they are still looking for Premier League and European glory.

Drogba began his career in France with Le Mans but he didn’t get off to a great start, struggling with injuries. But in 1999 he was part of the first team and impressed with seven goals, however in the following season the injuries returned and he lost his place in the team. But in his final season he scored five times in 21 games and was signed by Ligue 1 side Guingamp halfway through the campaign. He made a vital contribution in keeping the team in the top division and would then lead the club to their highest ever finish by hitting 17 goals in 34 games.

Drogba Guingamp

After just one full season he moved again joining Marseille. This would be a great move as he scored a lot of goals, with 19 in the league and 11 in Europe. But this would be his only season at the club as he joined Chelsea for £24 million. In his first season he did well, scoring 16 with his most important coming in the final of the League Cup but also adding 10 in the league as the club won the title. Chelsea would go on to retain the title with Drogba again scoring 16 in all competitions.

Drogba Marseille

In the 2006-07 season he scored 33 goals, including two in the League Cup final against Arsenal and also the winner in the FA Cup final against Manchester United. The League Cup became his favourite competition as he would go on to score in his third final, unfortunately they would lose this time to Tottenham Hotspur. Another final that year did not go so well for Drogba as he was sent off in the final of the Champions League against Manchester United who would go on to win on penalties.

The following season didn’t start great for him as he had to wait until late December for his first Premier League goal. Under Scolari he struggled for game time but when Guus Hiddink took charge he returned to great goalscoring form and would once again score in the FA Cup final, helping his side to a 2-1 win. He started the 2009-10 season with 14 goals in the first 16 games. Despite going to the Africa Cup of Nations he still finished with 29 goals in just 32 games and Chelsea would go on to win the Premier League again and then a week later he would score in his sixth final.

2010-11 started well for Chelsea and Drogba but it didn’t last and was quite a disappointing campaign. But the next season was arguably his favourite for the club as he scored his 100th Premier League goal, moved up to fourth in the all time goalscoring list, scoring in yet another FA Cup final and winning the Champions League after scoring the 88th minute equaliser and the winning penalty.

Drogba Chelsea

On the 19th June 2012 Drogba joined Shanghai Shenhua but he would only last 11 games at the club, scoring eight times before joining Turkish side Galatasaray. He would go on to score five minutes into his debut and would help them to the title with five goals in 13 games. He would only spend one full season at the club and after 20 goals in 53 games he would make the return to Chelsea.

The final word can go to Jose Mourinho after his return. “It looks like he never left. He was an ever present even when he wasn’t here. Chelsea belonged to him even in the last two years when he was away. I think we need him. We need him as a player for our squad to be the way I like. So, as a player and person, Didier is someone we need to be strong.”

4th February – Kevin Campbell

Kevin Campbell may not be one of the biggest names to have played during the Premier League era but he was certainly a good striker that could always grab a goal for whoever he was playing for.

The 45 year old has been retired since 2007 but will be fondly remembered by Everton and West Brom in particular. During his career he did a rare thing for an English player and that was play abroad. He also scored 83 Premier League goals which puts him number 40 in the all time list.

Campbell began his career at Arsenal and was prolific for the youth team, scoring 59 goals in a single season and helping the club win the FA Youth Cup. He went on to make his debut on 7th May 1988 against Everton, unfortunately he could not find his way past Paul Merson and Alan Smith to secure a first team spot. In 1989 he joined Leyton Orient on loan and was a success scoring nine times in 16 games which led to them wanting to sign him permanently, however Arsenal refused to sell.

Campbell AFC

He went out on loan once more, this time to Leicester City and again showed that he could find the back of the net with five goals in 11 games. In the 1990-91 season he established himself in the Arsenal first team and helped the team win the First Division title after scoring eight times in ten games during the run in. After the signing of Ian Wright, Campbell got less recognition for his work but still chipped in with some important goals. Over the next few seasons he helped the team win the FA Cup, League Cup and the Cup Winners Cup. More signings were made, including John Hartson and Dennis Bergkamp, so Campbell left the club after playing 224 games and scoring 59 goals.

Nottingham Forest signed the striker for £2.5 million in the summer of 1995 but unfortunately he could not stop them from getting relegated in 1997. He stuck with the team and his 23 goals in the following season helped them to an immediate return to the Premier League. Controversy then clouded the next 12 months of his career as he was sold to Turkish side Trabzonspor for £2.5 million and this made Forest striker Pierre van Hooijdonk go on strike. But worse was still to come as after just seven months he was involved in a racist incident with the club president. Campbell was very popular with the fans and the other players so they stood behind him and accompanied him to the press conference announcing his departure and the reasons.

Campbell NF

In March 1999, Campbell joined relegation threatened Everton and was arguably one of the greatest loans ever in the Premier League. Despite only playing eight games he finished the season as the club’s top scorer with nine goals and was named April’s Player of the Month. In the summer he made the move permanent and he became even more of a legend at the club by scoring the winner against Liverpool at Anfield. Although Everton were largely disappointing in the Premier League with bottom half finishes, Campbell was a regular scorer.

Campbell Everton

West Brom then signed Campbell on a free transfer in January 2005 and many had written them off after being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas. But after making Campbell captain there was an upturn in form and he led them to survival, the first time a team had achieved this. Unfortunately he could not repeat the trick in the following season and the club were relegated and was released. He then joined Cardiff City but he could not have as much of an influence as he hoped and played his last professional game on the 20th February 2007 against former club West Brom.

The final word can go to Bryan Robson. “He’s got vast experience and Premier League know-how. I think he’ll be a success. He’s up for trying to keep us in the Premier League. The way he leads the line is a good example to everybody but the way he gets on with players has been excellent.”

13th September – Francois Zoko

Blackpool picked up their first point of the season and were helped by birthday boy and one of their summer signings Francois Zoko to finally get their season started.

After coming on as a substitute in the 72 minute, Zoko ensured that the score remained 0-0, however he will be hoping to make more of a positive impact going forward in the coming weeks. Everyone knows about Blackpool’s problems during the summer and they did not even have a full squad with only a few days to go before the start of the season. But with their first point on the board they should gain more confidence.
Zoko Nancy
Zoko started his career at French club Nancy and spent four years with the club, scoring eight times in 70 league appearances before moving onto Stade Laval in the summer of 2004. He played fairly regularly for the club over the next two seasons but he did not hit the back of the net for his liking, with him only scoring nine times.
Zoko Laval
In 2006 he then moved to Belgium and signed for Mons where he started building his reputation and was starting to be linked with bigger clubs. After 55 games and 11 goals he decided he wanted to try a new challenge in a new country and joined Turkish club Hacetteppe Spor Kulubu. However, a lot of off field problems meant he never lived up to his potential and ended up moving back to Belgium with KV Oostende. He made an instant impact at the club and in the second half of the season he played 11 times, scoring four goals and assisting a further five.

Ahead of the 2010-11 season Zoko joined Carlisle United on trial and after impressing he signed a one year deal in July 2010. He made his debut in a 2-0 win over Brentford and after leaving the field he was given a standing ovation and was praised by the management and his teammates at the club. It did not take him long to be linked with other clubs which led to Carlisle giving him a new contract after less than 10 games.

He stayed at the club for two seasons and after scoring double figures in all competitions in both years he decided on the 6th June 2012 that he wanted to play at a higher level and did not sign a new contract. He was described as one of the most talented players to have ever played for the club in recent years.
Zoko CU
On the 3rd August 2012 he signed a two year deal with Notts County. He made his debut against Crewe and also scored in 2-1 win for his new club. He only had to wait three days for his next goal as he scored against Hartlepool United, he could not keep up this goal rate but he still managed seven goals in 39 appearances. At the end of the season his contract was cancelled by mutual consent and he joined Stevenage on the 4th October.

Once again he scored on his debut in a 2-1 win over MK Dons and then scored twice in his next game in another 2-1 victory, this time over Brentford. He was a consistent goal scorer for the club and he ended his only season at the club with 16 goals in 40 games which convinced Blackpool that he could make it in the Championship and signed the attacker.

He has so far played five times but has been unable to find the back of the net.

The final word can go to the manager that brought him to England, Greg Abbott. “I know how big an impact he has made here. He is an important player for what we are doing and has been very impressive so far.”

6th September – Joseph Yobo

Joseph Yobo holds the honour of being David Moyes’ first signing at Everton and went on to be a very good player for the club and also holds the record for being Nigeria’s most capped player.

He has now retired from international football after competing in the 2014 World Cup and after not being in the starting 11 for the first game he was brought into the squad to help them qualify from the group and helped keep a clean sheet against Bosnia. They were knocked out of the tournament by France with Yobo unfortunately scoring an own goal but he did help his country win the African Cup of Nations in 2013.
Yobo Nigeria
Yobo started his career at Belgian side Standard Liege and made his first team debut in 2000 and went on to make 46 appearances for the club, scoring twice in that time before moving onto France, signing for Marseille. He only played 23 times for the club before being loaned out to Everton in July 2002. He impressed during this loan spell and Everton took up the option to sign him permanently in the following summer and became a very consistent member of the squad.

The 2006-07 was one of the best for him personally as he formed a brilliant central defensive partnership with Joleon Lescott. Both players played every single minute of the Premier League campaign. Yobo was rewarded with a new contract, despite being linked with moves away from the club he stayed loyal to the team that brought him to the Premier League.
Yobo Everton
On the 15th April 2007 he broke another record at Everton, becoming the record appearance holder for an overseas player and he held this until early 2012. Later in the year on the 25th October 2007, he also became the first African player to captain the club in a UEFA Cup game against Greek side Larissa as normal captain Phil Neville was out injured.

Over the next few years Yobo was not always first choice and on the 31st August 2010 he joined Fenerbahce on loan for the season. He played 30 times and scored one goal, helping them win the Turkish league title and this led to his loan being extended for another season. With more impressive performances his transfer was eventually made permanent on the 4th August 2012.
Yobo Fener
After 114 appearances for the club he returned to England on loan as he joined Chris Hughton’s Norwich City on the 30th January 2014 to help them battle against relegation. His debut was against free scoring Manchester City and many expected Norwich to be blown away by Man City’s attacking talent but Yobo and his new teammates stood firm and managed to grind out a 0-0 draw. Unfortunately he could not help them stay up at the end of the season and his move was not made permanent.

Just before the start of the 2014-15 season his contract was terminated by mutual consent and he is still looking for a new club.

The final word can go to David Moyes. “Joe was liable to making a mistake when he first got here but he has continued to develop and now has a real authority about his game. He has captained us and he is also captain of his country, so he knows what it is about.”

3rd September – Scott Carson

Whenever England play at Wembley it must bring back bad memories for goalkeeper Scott Carson as his chances of being England’s number one was ruined in one night.

The game against Croatia will be remembered for England not qualifying for Euro 2008. Carson was at fault for at least one of the goals, however this has not had an effect on his club career as he has always been a very consistent goalkeeper. Now at the age of 29 he will be hoping that he can be a Premier League keeper once again.
Carson WA
Carson started his career at Leeds United and progressed quickly through their youth ranks and the reserves, making his first team debut in January 2004 after Paul Robinson was sent off against Middlesbrough and he had to come on. Two weeks later he made his full debut against Manchester United and helped them get a 1-1 draw. The goalkeeper played once more against Chelsea.

Despite being offered a new contract at Leeds he decided he wanted to leave the club and Liverpool signed him in January 2005. He signed for the club in the right season as it meant that he picked up a Champions League winners medal even though he only played in one game, the quarter final victory over Juventus.

After only playing nine times for the club in a season and a half he was loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday in March 2006. Carson played a key role in helping Wednesday avoid relegation from the Championship as he kept five clean sheets in his nine appearances. At the end of the season he returned to Liverpool and signed a new contract with the club but was loaned out for the entire 2006-07 season to Charlton Athletic.

On a personal level he had a very good season there as he played in 36 league games (only missing the games against Liverpool) and being voted the Supporters’ Club Player of the Year. However, he could not prevent them from being relegated. Once again he was told he would not be first choice at Liverpool and was loaned out to Aston Villa and only missed three league games in the next season. During the 2007-08 season he managed 11 clean sheets but did also receive the first red card of his career.

After years of being loaned out, Carson left the club permanently in 2008 when he joined West Brom. He had some ups and downs during his time there with him suffering another relegation to the Championship but did help them gain promotion with 15 clean sheets in 43 games. He briefly lost his place during the 2010-11 season but after Roy Hodgson became their new manager he was quickly reinstated as the number one.
Carson WB
On the 1st July 2011 Carson left West Brom and joined Turkish side Bursapsor for £2 million and was very impressive in his first season, helping them to 8th place and only conceding 35 goals and in his second and final campaign at the club he helped them qualify for the Europa League by finishing in fourth place.
Carson Bursaspor
Wigan Athletic brought him back to England to help them return to the Premier League and in his first year he played 18 times.

The final word can go to Martin O’Neill. “Carson has been doing very well for us. We are very pleased with him. He has shown a bit of strength of character, and that is always encouraging. He is a very strong person and he is staying very focused.”

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.”