Premier League Career: Coventry City (1992-1994), Sheffield Wednesday (1994-2000), Bradford City (2000-2001)
Peter Atherton made 318 appearances during a Premier League career that lasted nine seasons. He scored nine goals during this time and is now part of the coaching staff at Wigan Athletic that is hoping to make a return to the Championship under the guidance of Paul Cook.
Working for his hometown club must be a joy for Peter and it was at Wigan where he started his playing career at. Signing as a trainee, he made his Latics debut in 1988 and spent three seasons with them before attracting the interest of First Division side, Coventry City. Atherton moved to the Midlands in 1991 for £330,000.
He featured regularly for the Sky Blues in the first two Premier League campaigns and even earned a single England Under-21 cap before Sheffield Wednesday paid Coventry £800,000 for his services in the summer of 1994. A capable player, who enjoyed his time at Hillsborough, he was an adaptable component of the Owls squad for several seasons. Whilst right-back was his most familiar position, Atherton could do a solid job as both a centre-back and central midfielder.
In November 1994, he scored one of the greatest goals of his career infront of the Sky Sports cameras at Villa Park against Aston Villa. Making the most of a dubious clearance by Villa goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, Atherton took one touch to get the ball out of his feet before launching a dipping shot that flew into the back of the net beyond Bosnich’s desperate attempt to scramble back into his goal. It earned the visitors a fighting point.
He made over 200 league appearances for Sheffield Wednesday before moving in the summer of 2000 to Yorkshire rivals Bradford City on the Bosman ruling following Wednesday’s relegation from the Premier League. He started out as a regular fixture in the Bantams line-up too but Jim Jefferies sent him out on-loan to Birmingham City on his arrival as manager in November 2000. As he had already played in the League Cup that season for Bradford, he couldn’t play for Birmingham in their 2001 League Cup final defeat to Liverpool FC because he was cup-tied.
Released by Bradford in 2005, he finished his playing career at Halifax Town but played just 14 times for them over three seasons and retired from playing in 2008. By the time of his retirement, he was already getting a taste for coaching at Halifax, serving as assistant manager in 2007 and occasionally would put his boots on again to play in Masters Football tournaments for both Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan Athletic.
Atherton returned to Wigan as an Under-18 coach in 2014 before becoming Development Squad coach in 2015. He also had a brief role as interim assistant manager at the backend of last season when Graham Barrow had a spell as first-team boss.