18th March – Danny Murphy

Danny Murphy is now a pundit for the BBC and is doing a decent job but during his playing career he was slightly underrated and one that was usually a valuable member of any side.

Now at the age of 38 the former midfielder can look back on his career with pride after playing over 700 professional games but he will also be disappointed as he only got nine England caps even though he was one of the most consistent English midfielders during the 2000s. After being in the headlines for the wrong reasons recently but whenever he has been on Match of the Day he has been a lot better than some of the other new pundits that have been on this season.

Murphy started his career at Crewe and made his debut as a 16 year old against Preston after coming off the bench and would go on to score the winner. He spent the early years of his career as a deep lying striker rather than a midfielder and in his final season he would hit 10 goals as the club got promoted to the second tier of English football in 1997.

Murphy CA

He wouldn’t play for the club after promotion though as he joined Liverpool and made his debut on the opening day of the 1997-98 season against Wimbledon. After making 17 league appearances over the next two seasons, he rejoined Crewe on loan and played a vital role in the club avoiding relegation. On his return to Liverpool he found a new position as a wide midfielder and this proved to be a very successful change. Over the next few years he won the League Cup twice, the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup and was a key member of the side but his best season unfortunately fell on Liverpool’s worst as he scored 12 goals and was voted the supporters’ player of the year at the end of the 2002-03 season. During his time at Liverpool he also became a fan favourite because he scored the only goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford three times.

Murphy Liverpool

But in August 2004, after playing 170 league games for Liverpool, Murphy joined Charlton Athletic. After a difficult first season, he found form in his second as he was named September Player of the Month and was linked with a call up to the England squad which arguably should have happened. This form meant that he was linked away from the club and on the 31st January 2006 he joined Tottenham Hotspur. It was not a very successful spell for him there though as he struggled to break into the first team and only played 22 Premier League games in a season and a half.

On the 31st August Murphy joined Fulham and he once again showed his ability and was part of the team that successfully avoided relegation when it looked like they would be going down for large periods of the season. On the 11th May he scored the only goal against Portsmouth which guaranteed their safety. In the following season he scored some important goals too, including his 100th club goal and yet another winner against Manchester United. The 2009-10 season started badly with the midfielder missing the first two months of the season with injury but ended with him captaining the club to the Europa League final which they unfortunately lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid.

Murphy Fulham

Murphy stayed at Fulham for another two seasons, playing over 40 times in both campaigns, but was surprisingly not given a contract extension and signed for Blackburn Rovers. He would only stay one season before retiring but was named club captain and was praised by Gary Bowyer for his contributions during a time of uncertainty at the club, with many managerial changes.

The final word can go to Steve Kean. “His record is there for all to see. He is a model professional, who has a real hunger to keep playing football and we are thrilled. This is a pivotal signing for us. Being able to bring Danny on board is a massive boost for everyone.”

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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.”

21st August – Scott McDonald

Scott McDonald was a prolifc scorer in Scotland but since coming to England he has modified his game slightly and became a different threat to the opposition.

The Australian international has been involved in every Millwall game so far this season and despite not scoring he has played a big part in helping them to third in the Championship table after two wins and a draw in the early weeks of the season. Many expected Millwall to struggle but under Ian Holloway anything is possible as has been proven in the past and if he can get the 31 year old to start scoring regularly they will be in with a chance of reaching the playoffs.

McDonald started his career in Australia and became the youngest ever player to play in the National Soccer after he made his debut at the age of just 15. He soon made the move to Europe and signed for Southampton and stayed for two years and had loan spells at Huddersfield Town and Bournemouth in 2002. After being released by Southampton he signed for Wimbledon on a rolling contract, however after just two league games he moved to Motherwell in January 2004.

Despite some impressive performances he only managed one goal in his first half a season at the club but he followed this up with 15 goals in the next campaign, including two late goals against Celtic which denied them the title. Over the next few seasons he continued to be a regular goalscorer for Motherwell, hitting 11 in 35 and then 15 in 32 and also went down as the man that scored the 5000th goal in SPL history when he scored against Falkirk on the 25th November 2006.
McDonald Motherwell
After 45 goals in 108 appearances, Celtic signed the striker for £700,000 and he moved to the club at the start of the 2007-08 season. He made his debut in the third round Champions League qualifier against Spartak Moscow and scored his first goal in the return leg and a few days later he scored his first league goal against St Mirren. In his first season he scored 25 goals in 36 league appearances but his best moment was when he scored the winner against AC Milan in the final minute.

After changing his number at Celtic he got off to a slow start the next season but did manage to score in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United and he also scored the only goal in a 1-0 win in the Old Firm Derby against Rangers. On the 2nd May he scored his 49th and 50th Celtic goals against Aberdeen to cap off two extraordinary seasons.
McDonald Celtic
After an impressive start to the 2009-10 season he was being linked with moves to England and eventually on the 1st February 2010 he joined Middlesbrough and scored his first goal against Newcastle United and finished the campaign with four goals in 13 games. The next season started better but tailed off slightly but towards the end of the season he did manage to score a hatrick against Hull City in a 4-2 win. For the rest of his time at Boro he had a decent goal return but he seemed to spend a lot of time on the bench. His time at the club ended with 40 goals in 124 appearances which is not a bad return and was the reason why Millwall signed the player.
McDonald Boro
He had a tough first season at the club only getting three goals in 30 games but his performances so far this season suggest that he will play a big part in helping the team reach their objectives.

The final word can go to the manager that signed him at Millwall Steve Lomas. “I’ve watched Scott throughout his career and he has a proven track record, scoring at better than one in three games over a long period. He works hard for the team, links play well and can operate in different formations.”

6th June – David Connolly

David Connolly has had a remarkable career that has seen him be the highest paid player in Holland, score an international hatrick for the Republic of Ireland and score over 150 club goals.

At the age of 37 he is still playing in League Two and had a decent loan spell at Oxford United last season where he scored four times in 11 games and this just shows that he will always know where the back of the net is. Connolly began his career at Watford and he burst onto the scene in the 1995-96 season by scoring eight goals in just 11 appearances which led to him being linked with a move away from the club.

In 1997 he got a move to Dutch team Feyenoord and was the highest player in the country but after just 10 games he was loaned back to England to play for Wolves where he scored four goals in one match against Bristol City. He returned to Holland at the end of the season but was once again loaned out, this time to Excelsior and he really hit top form, scoring 29 times in just 32 matches and he followed this up the next season with 13 in 16 before returning to his parent club. He got more of a chance this time around and played 15 times and managed to get himself five goals.
Connolly AFC
But his adventure in Holland was over in 2001 as he moved to Wimbledon and became one of the most lethal strikers in the Football League. His first season was impressive enough (18 in 35) but he was even better in his second year and almost had a goal a game record as he scored 24 times in 28 games. This form convinced West Ham to pay £285,000 for his services in August 2003 and he scored on his debut against Preston North End in a 2-1 win. He only stayed for the one season as they failed to gain promotion to the Premier League after losing in the playoff final despite Connolly’s 14 goals.
Connolly Leicester
He signed for Leicester City for £500,000 and proved to be a success as he finished the season as their top scorer and then at the start of the next season he scored a hatrick against Stoke City which increased speculation he was going to be sold to a Premier League club. And on deadline day he signed for Wigan Athletic for an initial fee of £2 million and he once again scored on his debut in a 2-1 win over West Brom. However, it was a difficult season as he struggled with injuries and did not score another league goal for the club and in 2006 he left for Sunderland.

At Sunderland he played a vital part in getting them promoted by finishing the season as their top scorer and scoring the final goal of the season which made them champions of the division. However, over the next two seasons he only played five times and was then released.

His next move was to Southampton and he scored on his debut against Oldham Athletic and then followed this up with another against MK Dons. He earned a contract extension and was vital in getting Southampton promoted as he scored in crucial wins over Brighton, Brentford and Walsall. Connolly started the Championship season in fantastic form scoring four goals in the first month of the season. After the club made a few signings in the January transfer window he was pushed down the pecking order and was released at the end of the season.
Connolly Soton
Connolly decided to stay on the South Coast and signed for Portsmouth and although he scored seven times in 17 games he was unable to stop them getting relegated to League Two. At the beginning of the next season he was a starter for Portsmouth but was loaned out in January to Oxford United where he scored on his debut against AFC Wimbledon.

The final word can go to the manager that signed him for West Ham Glenn Roeder. “He is fiery and strong mentally – a tough boy and he lives for scoring goals. He is one of those lads that keeps a mental note of exactly where and how he scores.”

2nd May – David Beckham

One of the most recognisable footballers ever has not only had a good career on the pitch but off it too with his name known all round the world.

David Beckham turns 39 today and to some people he is more known for what he has done off the pitch due to him becoming a fashion icon and being married to Victoria Adams a member of the girl band Spice Girls. But his playing career has sometimes been overlooked and a lot of people have missed how good he was on the pitch.

Beckham started his career at Manchester United and after playing a few games for the club he was ready to play more first team football and had an impressive five game spell at Preston North End where he scored two goals including one directly from a corner. But he had to wait until the opening day of the 1996-97 season to become centre stage as he scored from the halfway line in a victory over Wimbledon and from there his season just got better as the club won the title and he won the PFA Young Player of the Year.
Soccer - David Beckham Retires
The following season after Eric Cantona retired, Beckham was given the famous number 7 shirt and in 1998-99 he had arguably his greatest season ever in terms of trophies as he won the treble and sent in both the corners in which they scored from in the Champions League final. He went on to win another three Premier League titles before the famous boot kicking incident with Sir Alex Ferguson led to speculation that he was going to leave the club.

In the summer of 2003 he was transferred to Real Madrid in a move that seemed to fit all parties involved. It wasn’t as easy as the player had hoped at Madrid with the club unable to win any trophies until his final season at the club when he had already announced that he was leaving for America. They ended up piping Barcelona to the title on the final game of the season but it was Beckham being taken off that changed the game, they were losing 1-0 and his replacement Jose Antonio Reyes scored twice to win them the game and La Liga.
Beckham madrid
Beckham signed a huge contract for LA Galaxy and some would argue that he was too good to go there and should have continued to play at a higher level but others argue that he was trying to grow the name of ‘soccer’ in America and surely this was a good thing. With the MLS running at different times to European competitions it did allow him to join other teams on loan. He decided to join Italian side AC Milan and he fit into their team pretty well with them having a slower pace and he played 20 games scoring 2 goals for the club in his first spell there.

Upon returning to LA Galaxy he was disliked by a section of the supporters telling him to go home and that he was only a part time player. However he played a key role in helping the club win the Western Conference final. This did not stop him signing for AC Milan for a second time, this time however it ended badly as he suffered an injury which would keep him out for around six months.
Beckham LA
When he did return playing for Galaxy he scored in 2-1 win over Dallas which secured them their second successive Western Conference title. At the end of his contract he signed for PSG on a five month deal and decided to donate all his wages during this period to a local children’s charity. At the end of the season he became the first English player to win titles in four different countries as he helped them clinch the Ligue 1 championship. On the 16th May he announced that he was retiring from football.

The final word can go to his manager at Real Madrid and England Fabio Capello. “At Madrid I left him out of the squad because he had signed a contract with Los Angeles but he continued to come on the field and train and I put him back in the team. He is a very serious lad, very sensible, a professional. People think he is a playboy off the field, it’s not true at all.”

26th April – Chris Perry

Usually centre backs are big strong six foot plus players but every so often one comes along and breaks the mould and is just as consistent despite not having these characteristics.

Chris Perry is 41 today and started his career at boyhood club Wimbledon going on to be one of their most consistent performers and helped them stay in the Premier League for a number of years. And at one point he was in such good form that he was being talked about to break into the England squad. His manager at Wimbledon Joe Kinnear said: “Perry and Blackwell remind me of the finest defensive formation England have had since Roy McFarland and Colin Todd. It takes my breath away just watching them. If Glenn (Hoddle) wants I’ll send a car to pick him up for our next game.” Unfortunately for Perry he never earned a call up to the England squad.
Perry Dons
In July 1999 he made a £4 million move to Tottenham Hotspur and at the time was the clubs record signing and he became an automatic pick after Sol Campbell left for Arsenal. He stayed in the team and played most games until an injury in January 2003 meant he lost his place in the team. When younger players were selected ahead of him Perry signed for Charlton Athletic on loan. After impressing Alan Curbishley during the loan spell the transfer was made permanent and for the majority of the time Curbishley was in charge Perry was in the team. However new manager Iain Dowie released him in the summer of 2006.
Perry Spurs
His next move was to West Brom and Tony Mowbray thought that although he did not make enough appearances to trigger a clause in his contract he still performed well for the club. He said: “I thought Chris did fine. He is a decent footballer and a good defender.” He played his part in helping the team reach the playoff finals where they were beaten by Derby County.

After a season long spell at Luton Town he made his final career move and joined Southampton initially on loan and then permanently. In his short loan spell he was named in the Championship Team of the Week after his performance against Bristol City on 5th April 2008. He continued playing for the club until the start of the 2010-11 season when he was released but he did win a trophy just before he left as Southampton won the Football League Trophy in 2010.
Perry Soton
The final word can go to his former teammate at West Brom Darren Carter who said: “We’ve got Chris Perry in at the back, he’s got bags of experience and every time I’ve seen him play he wins everything despite not being a six footer. He’s a good player and knows the game inside out.”