22nd July – Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt will go down in history as one of those players that put his teams needs before his own as he played in many different positions and performed admirably.

Kuyt started his career at Dutch side Quick Boys and after some impressive performances he was signed by Utrecht at the age of 18. He started his time there on the wing but during the 2002-03 season he was used a striker and scored 20 league goals and also scored in the KNVB Cup final.

Kuyt Utrecht

This convinced Feyenoord to sign Kuyt and he was an instant success, scoring 20 goals in his first season and in the opening game of the 2004-05 season he scored his first hatrick against De Graafschap. He would continue his good form and 29 goals meant he finished as the Eredivisie top scorer. More goals followed but even more remarkably during his seven seasons at the club he only missed five games. But on 18th August 2006 he joined Liverpool.

Kuyt Feyenoord

The fans quickly took to him and would score his first goal for the club against Newcastle United. He played a key role in helping the team reach the Champions League final and scored in it but unfortunately they were defeated by Milan. The second season was a little more difficult but he did score twice against Everton. It was during this time that he was more often than not played on the right wing.

He had also started to become known as a big game player and would pop up with some very important goals. During the 2008-09 season he had his best return of 15 goals as the team finished second. By the end of the next season, Everton fans were getting sick of Kuyt as he scored in both fixtures and in the second game his goal was his 50th for the club.

Once again he showed why the Liverpool fans loved him by scoring a hatrick against Manchester United in a 3-1 win and would later become the first player since John Aldridge to score in five consecutive games. He would finish the season as the club’s top scorer but the following campaign saw him have less of an impact but he did become only the fifth player to score 50 goals for Liverpool in the Premier League.

Kuyt Liverpool

After 208 league games and 51 goals he joined Fenerbahce in 2012. He managed to score on his league debut and had three successful years at the club, scoring 37 times but it was time for him to return home and he rejoined Feyenoord. He continued to score goals but even more remarkably he led them to their first Eredivise title since 1999 and he scored a hatrick to clinch the title.

The final word can go to Kenny Dalglish. “Dirk is the Liverpool player of choice. He never gives up, fights with everything and he is simply a good footballer. He scores goals and often in major competitions or at crucial moments.”

2nd July – Marc-Antoine Fortune

Marc-Antoine Fortune is currently stuck on 98 professional career goals and will be hoping that one more team gives him a chance to reach 100..

The forward started his career at French lower league side Angouleme where he broke into the side during the 1999-00 season, scoring three times in 10 appearances. He helped the club reach the third tier of French football and he was linked with moves to Ligue 1 sides. In 2002, Lille took a chance on Fortune.

While at the club he found himself playing out of position on the left wing and struggled with injuries to make a real impact. After just one season, Fortune joined Ligue 2 side Rouen on loan. He ended the season with 10 goals and for a third summer in a row he was on the move.

Stade Brest had a decent season with Fortune scoring 10 goals in 33 games and finishing 9th in Ligue 2. It looked as though he had settled, however when Eredivisie side Utrecht showed interest, Fortune could not turn down the opportunity. While in Holland, Fortune struggled to settle and the death of David Di Tommaso meant he could not show his talent.

Before his teammate died he had been looking quite impressive but after 13 goals in 56 appearances, he felt he needed to return to France. In January 2007, Nancy signed the striker and began really well, scoring six goals in 17 league games. After this he was largely used as an impact substitute and began to feel frustrated so in January 2009 he joined West Brom.

MAF Nancy

He became a fan favourite and scored on his debut in a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough and despite only playing half a season he was named the Supporters Player of the Year. He finished his loan spell with five goals and convinced Celtic to buy him.

MAF WB

After a good start with goals against St Johnstone and Rapid Vienna in the Europa League it turned sour, especially after Tony Mowbray was replaced by Neil Lennon so at the start of the 2010-11 season he returned to West Brom. He spent a further three seasons at West Brom, scoring nine goals as the club battled to stay in the Premier League. During this time, he also had a loan spell at Doncaster Rovers.

MAF WA

His next move was to Wigan Athletic and he featured heavily during their Europa League campaign and ended the season with 49 appearances. He lasted one more season and signed a one year deal for Coventry City. After four goals in 25 games he was on the move again to Southend United following a successful trial. Last season he scored four goals.

The final word can go to former Celtic and West Brom manager Tony Mowbray. “Marc is a quality player and he was a privilege to work with. Some of his play in the second half of the season was phenomenal, you can see the impact he made. He is a team player.”

16th April – Arjan De Zeeuw

After retiring from football some go into coaching, others into media and some begin working as an investigative detective specialising in forensics.

Arjan De Zeeuw is 44 today and is enjoying his retirement as a detective which is an interesting route to take after being a very consistent centre back for a number of years. But he was never just a normal footballer, as a youngster he did not turn professional because he wanted to finish his degree in medical science.

At the age of 22 after completing his course he signed for Dutch team Telstar where once again he made interesting decisions about his career as he almost quit the game when the club rejected transfer offers from Utrecht. However he decided to stay for another season and played over 100 times for the club before moving to England where he spent the majority of his career.

His first stop in England was Barnsley who paid £250,000 for him and was a key player in their promotion to the Premier League however it only lasted one season as the club struggled and were relegated the following year. It looked as though the centre back was about to leave but manager John Hendrie persuaded him to sign a contract extension which the fans and other players were happy about. The next summer he joined Wigan Athletic. Former teammate Darren Barnard said: “He was the ultimate professional who went on have a great career at the highest level.”
Arjan Barnsley
As at every club he was very dependable at the back and settled in quickly winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2001 and 2002. In the summer of 2002 he was on the move once more, this time moving on a free transfer to Portsmouth where he was an important part of their title winning side. He continued performing to a high standard in the Premier League and won the Portsmouth’s fans Player of the Year and the season after he was given the captains armband and once again proved vital in their successful attempt at staying in the top flight.

However a falling out with manager Alain Perrin meant he left the club to rejoin Wigan and this decision was criticised by all the Pompey fans. During his time at the club he showed what a brilliant person he is and how he lead by example at all times both on and off the pitch. Nothing showed this more than when in a game against Bolton Wanderers he did not retaliate when El Hadji Diouf spat in his face and instead of reacting aggressively he went and scored the winning goal.
Arjan Pompey
At Wigan one of his greatest fans was British Prime Minister Tony Blair who praised him for his consistent performances. Although this would have been nice to hear what pleased him more was when in a poll to celebrate the centenary of the PFA the fans voted him to be the best Wigan player of all time.
Arjan Wigan
By this point he was starting to get to the end of his career but he was given one last spell in England by Coventry City. Manager at the time Iain Dowie said: “Arjan is a model professional and hugely experienced. He has what it takes to be competitive at this level and adds more quality to the squad.”

He only made 17 league appearances for the club and after a brief spell at ADO he retired. The final word can go to his Wigan manager Paul Jewell after an impressive start to their Premier League campaign. “I wanted experience at the back because we knew we were going to come under the cosh. I wanted people in the team who were not going to be in awe of the Premiership. He enjoys defending. It’s no good me having a ball playing centre half who can’t head it or can’t defend because we know we’re going to be under pressure.”