Category Archives: Premier League Files

Premier League Files: Kyle Walker

Premier League Career: Tottenham Hotspur (2010-2017), Aston Villa (2011), Manchester City (2017-PRESENT)

He turned 27 recently and Kyle Walker has impressed many with the journey he has been on. Now established as first-choice right-back for his country, the Sheffield-born defender had been a regular fixture in a hungry and energetic Tottenham Hotspur side that has won the plaudits from many neutral supporters in the past couple of seasons. Now, Walker is embarking on a new challenge for 2017-2018 in the colours of Manchester City.

Walker started his professional career with his local side Sheffield United. Quickly sent to Sixfields to get some Football League experience under his belt at Northampton Town, Walker returned into the fold at Bramwall Lane in January 2009 and was a surprise inclusion in the closing matches of the season as the club struggled with an injury crisis. Walker seized his chance and became the club’s youngest player to ever play at Wembley Stadium when Burnley defeated the Blades’ in the 2009 Championship play-off final.

Tottenham wasted no time in snapping up their man, seeing Walker as part of their future. Harry Redknapp was manager at the time and combined with Kyle Naughton, £9million was paid to the Yorkshire side for Walker to become a Spurs player. He was immediately loaned back to Sheffield United to continue his development before being recalled in February 2010. Less than two months later, he made his Premier League debut in a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth at White Hart Lane.

2010-2011 was another season out on-loan. It began at Queens Park Rangers, before crucial Premier League experience with Aston Villa. It was at Villa Park where he scored his first senior league goal; a 30-yard low drive in the Villans’ 2-2 draw with Fulham on a goalscoring afternoon in February 2011.

The time had come now for Kyle to make the grade at Tottenham. He returned to his parent club that summer and was a regular feature in the teams of Redknapp, Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood and Mauricio Pochettino. After a highly impressive full debut season in north London, Walker was voted into the PFA Team of the Year and saw off competition from the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to win the coveted PFA Young Player of the Year award. He also scored one of the free-kicks of the campaign; a 25-yard curling effort in the 2-0 success against Blackburn Rovers.

Although his attacking prowess is highly regarded, Walker has at times been found guilty of overplaying at the back or easily getting physically beaten in battles against wingers. One of his worst performances came in a home defeat to Manchester United in 2012 when he was at fault for two of the Red Devils’ goals – both scored by Ashley Young.

By now, Kyle had full international recognition from England. Only a toe injury stopped him taking part at the 2012 European Championships but he did make the squad for the 2016 edition in France. In 2016-2017, his performances were once again recognised by his peers who voted Walker in the PFA Team of the Year for a second time. This encouraged Manchester City to break the British transfer record for a defender in July 2017, signing Walker for £45million which could rise to £50million on instalments.

No-one can doubt that Kyle Walker has been an impressive force at the back for Tottenham Hotspur. His progress at Manchester City will be an interesting development in the 2017-2018 season.

Premier League Files: Nicky Butt

Premier League Career: Manchester United (1992-2004), Newcastle United (2004-2005), (2006-2009), Birmingham City (2005-2006)

Part of the young talent that were dubbed “Fergie’s Fledglings,” Nicky Butt enjoyed a lengthy and fruitful Premier League career, winning six Premier League titles at Manchester United. He is back at the club where he received his big break helping today’s youngsters in the academy as well as being one of the five ‘Class of 92’ owners at Salford City FC.

The midfielder turned professional in 1993 but he had already made his Premier League debut by then, appearing as a late substitute in Manchester United’s 3-0 victory over Oldham Athletic in November 1992. It wasn’t until the 1994-1995 season though that the Old Trafford faithful got to see Butt play on a regular basis.

Roy Keane and Paul Ince were the main central midfielders at the time but with Paul Parker injured and Gary Neville still an emerging talent, Keane was often asked to deputise as a right-back. That meant Butt got more opportunities than expected and when Ince departed in the 1995 pre-season for Serie A with Inter Milan, Ferguson elected to draft Butt into the team on a regular basis as Ince’s replacement.

Goals were not a crucial part of Nicky’s game. Instead, his job was to be the ball-winner in midfield and allow the creative talents to take control going forwards. Nevertheless, he could still chip in with the odd strike. This included a goal in the opening minute of a fixture with Liverpool FC in October 1995 which was Eric Cantona’s comeback match after his nine-month ban for his kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace supporter. In 1997-1998, Butt made the PFA Team of the Year and many believed this was his best season in the colours of Manchester United as he developed leadership qualities after a knee injury robbed the club of Keane’s presence for much of that season.

Although he started the 1999 UEFA Champions League final victory in Barcelona as Keane was suspended, Roy’s return to fitness, coupled with Paul Scholes dropping back into a central role meant Butt’s first-team opportunities got more limited into the millennium. As competition increased in the midfield, he realised it was time to leave the club that developed him. In January 2004, Nicky Butt handed in a transfer request. Sir Alex Ferguson admitted: “Nicky Butt has asked to leave; it is a very sad situation. Nicky has given Manchester United great service but he wants to play first-team football.”

After turning down a move to Birmingham City, Butt was signed by Sir Bobby Robson for Newcastle United in July 2004. Signing a four-year deal, he was seen as a replacement for Gary Speed who had departed for Bolton Wanderers. Robson was sacked though four games into the new season and Graeme Souness was not convinced by Butt’s performances. He signed Emre, Amdy Faye and Scott Parker and sent Butt packing on-loan to ironically, Birmingham City in August 2005.

He scored on his Blues’ home debut in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City and played 24 times but after finding out that Steve Bruce had picked his son Alex ahead of him for an away trip to West Ham United, he walked out of the squad and was fined for his lack of discipline. He apologised and returned to the squad but Birmingham were relegated at the end of the season and he returned to Newcastle.

Butt became an integral part of the Newcastle line-up on his return and would captain the side on many occasions when Parker and Michael Owen were injured. He won over the fans’, who had been sceptical about his arrival in the first place and stayed with the club even after their relegation from the top-flight in 2009. He helped get them back into the Premier League before retiring from football.

He might not have attracted major headlines but Nicky Butt had a medal-winning career.

Premier League Files: Paul Wilkinson

Premier League Career: Middlesbrough (1992-1993, 1995-1996)

Paul Wilkinson played professional football for 18 years and even won four international Under-21 caps for England in the mid-1980s. He was a stereotypical target man who was not shy of tussling with defenders and coming out on top in some bruising battles over the years. Wilkinson also had a knack of finding that extra yard of space in the penalty area which probably explains why he scored more than 150 goals during his career in over 650 appearances.

Wilkinson was part of the last Everton squad that were champions of England back in the 1986-1987 campaign, scoring 12 times in their winning team that pushed Merseyside rivals Liverpool FC into second spot. He joined Middlesbrough in 1991 from Watford and was Lennie Lawrence’s last marquee signing at the club. He scored 24 goals in his debut season, including a final minute strike away at Molineux against Wolverhampton Wanderers which took Middlesbrough into the inaugural Premier League season as Division Two runners-up to Ipswich Town.

Wilkinson quickly found his feet in the newly-formed Premier League. On the opening weekend, he scored Middlesbrough’s first goal at this level; a 63rd minute effort in the 2-1 defeat at Highfield Road to Coventry City. A week later, he scored twice in the shock 4-1 defeat of reigning English champions Leeds United and reached double figures despite Boro’s relegation to Division One. By the time Middlesbrough won promotion again in 1995, Wilkinson had become a rarely used figure and he was eventually let go on a free transfer by Bryan Robson to make way for international talent to arrive on Teeside.

Barnsley signed him and he was recruited to play alongside his former colleague at Middlesbrough in John Hendrie. In April 1997, he scored one of the goals in the Tykes’ 2-0 win at home to Bradford City which secured their automatic promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history. However, he wouldn’t be going up with them – moving onto Millwall before winding down at Northampton Town in 2000.

Wilkinson moved straight into coaching. He has managed the reserve teams at Grimsby Town and Cardiff City and was Rob Page’s assistant manager during his brief tenure at Northampton. He is back at Blundell Park as Grimsby assistant currently to the experienced Russell Slade and looks set to become a manager in the future.

Premier League Files: David Linighan

Premier League Career: Ipswich Town (1992-1995)

Defender David Linighan came from a footballing family. He has two brothers who played professional football. One of his brothers, Andy Linighan scored a winning goal for Arsenal in the 1993 FA Cup final.

David’s career wasn’t quite as high-profile as that of Andy but has the record for the most Premier League appearances for Ipswich Town and is a former captain of the club.

He began his career as a 17-year-old at Hartlepool United in 1982, making close to 100 appearances at Victoria Park. David moved onto Shrewsbury Town in 1986 before Ipswich snapped him up two years later.

He played 277 league games for the Tractor Boys’, scoring 12 times. Named skipper in 1990, his commanding performances helped the club win promotion to the Premier League in 1992.

Linighan would score four times in the Premier League Years – all at Portman Road. His final goal came in a draw with Manchester City in March 1994.

He moved to Blackpool in the closing months of 1995, playing under three different managers at Bloomfield Road in Sam Allardyce, Gary Megson and Nigel Worthington. He finished his playing career playing in the non-league with Hyde United in 2002.

Although he has made the occasional appearance on local radio as a matchday pundit, David has stayed out of the game since retirement and now works as a carpenter.

Premier League Files: Paul Bodin

Premier League Career: Swindon Town (1993-1994)

Paul Bodin’s career is often only remembered for being the unfortunate player to miss a crucial spot-kick against Romania that denied Wales a place at the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States. It is a moment that he admitted in 2015: “I have had to live with that hurt and it never quite goes away.”

This is slightly unfair considering he was a very good left-back in his day and he was one of Swindon Town’s standout players during their sole Premier League campaign in the 1993-1994 season. Bodin began his career as a schoolboy at Chelsea but he left the club without making an appearance for the senior side. He would go onto represent several sides in his career including Cardiff City, Crystal Palace and Reading. However, it was two spells at Swindon which is where he played his best football.

He had two spells at the County Ground, making 239 league appearances and recording 37 goals which are impressive figures for a defender. He scored against Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League; two of seven strikes notched in Swindon’s season in the Premier League limelight.

Bodin retired from playing in 2001 and returned to Swindon to spend 12 years in the youth coaching set-up. He also has worked at Southampton’s academy and was Rob Page’s assistant during the 2015-2016 season at Port Vale.

Premier League Files: Rob Jones

Premier League Career: Liverpool FC (1992-1999)

Right-back Rob Jones became a cult figure with Liverpool FC supporters during the 1990s. He played over 240 league matches for the club and famously never scored a goal. However, his consistent and impressive performances were always noted. Capped eight times by England, only injuries got in the way of a better and brighter career.

Grandson of former Reds’ player Bill Jones, Rob started out in the old Fourth Division with Crewe Alexandra. He turned professional at the age of just 17 and spent nearly three years at Gresty Road. In 1991, Graeme Souness was attempting to change the style and reduce the age of his squad at Anfield. Jones therefore fitted into his plans, although it was a surprise when Liverpool FC put in a £300,000 move for him.

A month before his 20th birthday, Rob became a Reds’ player and he made a brilliant debut, earning Man of the Match honours in a goalless draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Over the first four Premier League campaigns, Jones became one of the first men on the teamsheet, even as the club lost their grip on league domination in England. He won the FA Cup in 1992 and the League Cup three years later.

Having played right-back for the majority of his career, Roy Evans switched him to a left-side wing-back role for the 1995-1996 campaign to accommodate the arrival of Jason McAteer. By now, injuries unfortunately had started to catch-up with the Wrexham-born player. Back problems meant he was forced to take a six-month lay-off after the club’s defeat to Manchester United in the 1996 FA Cup final. His final appearance in the Premier League came in February 1998 and despite three operations, a knee injury meant he never played for the club again.

Released by Gerard Houllier at the end of the 1998-1999 campaign, he was signed by West Ham United but after playing some Intertoto Cup football, the knee injuries wouldn’t go away. Aged just 27, he announced his retirement from professional football in August 1999.

In October 2013, he returned to Liverpool FC as a coach in the academy. Rob Jones was a solid and commanding full-back who was desperately unlucky not to have a more prolonged career due to injury.

Premier League Files: Cheick Tiote

Premier League Career: Newcastle United (2010-2016)

Cheick Tiote had a very impressive football career. A title winner in the Netherlands and part of the Ivory Coast squad that won the 2015 African Cup of Nations, he spent seven seasons with Newcastle United and always gave his all to the club. He was a fans’ favourite and he will be dearly missed by so many in the game.

He arrived on Tyneside in the summer of 2010 after impressing for Anderlecht in Belgium, then being part of the FC Twente squad that surprised Dutch heavyweights Ajax and PSV Eindhoven to win the 2009-2010 Eredivisie title. Steve McClaren was in charge of the club at the time and he would recommend Tiote to the Newcastle board before signing on at St James’ Park. On joining the club, he told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle: “It’s a great thrill for me to be joining such a famous club as Newcastle United.”

His debut was an impressive one at Goodison Park against Everton. Newcastle won the game 1-0 with a brilliant strike from Hatem Ben Afra but it was Tiote’s control of the midfield that won many plaudits. He achieved a 100% pass success rate, was successful in every tackle he made and even managed a shot on target, which wasn’t one of his main strengths.

In February 2011, he went down in Newcastle folklore with his one and only goal for the club. Tiote hit an unstoppable 25-yard volley to complete the club’s amazing comeback in a home match with Arsenal. Alan Pardew’s side were 4-0 down at half-time but came back to claim an unlikely and heroic draw. Tiote’s goal was voted in the Premier League’s top three strikes of the season.

Many believed his best season came in 2011-2012. Despite a knee injury in October that sidelined him for two months and international commitments, Tiote made 24 appearances in all competitions and played a major role in the club’s outstanding season. His shielding role protected the defenders and enabled the creative talents of Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse to sparkle. Newcastle went into the final day still with an outside chance of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. A 3-1 defeat to Everton ensured they would finish fifth but above Chelsea and Liverpool FC. Two seasons after returning to the top-flight, life felt good for the Geordie faithful.

Tiote was linked to several Premier League clubs that summer. Manchester United and Arsenal both made tentative enquiries but Newcastle insisted he wasn’t for sale. 2012-2013 was a disappointing season for player and club and saw him pick up the only red card of his Newcastle league career in a Tyne & Wear derby against Sunderland.

Pardew noted his leadership qualities though in the dressing room and when Fabricio Coloccini was ruled out of a game against Liverpool FC in October 2013, Tiote wore the armband for the first time in his Newcastle career. In January 2014, he scored a fantastic goal against Manchester City which was controversially and wrongly disallowed by the officials. Tiote was already celebrating what he thought was only his second goal for the club but Mike Jones chalked the goal off. He believed Yoan Gouffran had interfered with Joe Hart’s vision of the strike. It was an extremely harsh decision.

Injuries started to take their toll and when Pardew left to fill the Crystal Palace vacancy in January 2015, Tiote’s form tailed off. He was linked to moves abroad but despite interest from Russian and Turkish clubs, no formal bids were made. In 2015-2016, he often had to play back-up to Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum and he couldn’t stop the club sliding back into the Championship.

With the likes of Jack Colback and Isaac Hayden now part of the Newcastle midfield choices; Rafa Benitez elected to keep Tiote for the 2016-2017 campaign but only as a squad player. He came off the bench in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa and featured in both FA Cup third round ties against Birmingham City in January 2017. However, his days at the club were numbered.

He was sold to the riches of the Chinese League, joining Beijing Enterprises in February 2017. He appeared in every league match for the side including a 4-2 win on Saturday, 3 June against Yingli Yitong in a 4-2 victory.

On 5 June 2017, Tiote suffered a suspected heart attack in training with his Chinese club and collapsed. He was rushed to hospital but despite the best efforts of medical staff, he died later in the day. He was just 30-years-old.

Whilst at Newcastle, he discussed about his upbringing, mentioning: “Growing up in Abidjan, I knew what I wanted to do and made sure that this was going to be my life. But I worked and worked and worked for it and it is because of that hard work that I have managed to make it.”

Cheick Tiote leaves behind many memories for Newcastle United fans. His death is a sad end to a strong and combative career which provided moments many won’t forget – especially that goal against Arsenal.

My thoughts are with Newcastle United, Beijing Enterprises and Cheick’s family and friends.

Cheick Tiote – 1986-2017

TRIBUTES TO CHEICK TIOTE

Rafa Benitez (Newcastle United manager): “It is with great sadness that I have this afternoon learned of Cheick’s death. In all the time that I have known him, he was a true professional, dedicated, talented, and above all, a great man. Our hearts go out to his family and friends at such a sad time.”

Alan Pardew (Newcastle United manager – 2010-2014): “From the moment I arrived at Newcastle, Cheick was a wonderful presence around the dressing room and his performances on the field often defied belief. None of us will ever forget that incredible day when our Newcastle team came from 4-0 down to draw an unbelievable Premier League game against Arsenal, with Cheick’s incredible goal in the final moments of that game one of the iconic moments in Premier League history.”

“To hear the news that he has passed away at the age of 30 breaks my heart and my sympathies go out to all his family and friends who will be devastated by this news. Life if not fair sometimes and I will remember Cheick Tiote as a giant of a midfielder who I loved to managed. I loved him. He’s everything that you want in a Newcastle player. He has the quality, and of course you’ll never underestimate the fact that he wants to win.”

Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace player): “May God watch over you! Words fail me to describe my sadness…I’m really devastated. We will all miss you.” #RIPCheicky

Lynsey Hipgrave (Newcastle fan and presenter of the Football League show on Channel Five): “So shocked & saddened to hear of the passing of Cheick Tioté, so so young. Thoughts with his friends & family. #nufcfamily

Siem de Jong (Ex-Newcastle teammate of Tiote): “Terrible news, R.I.P. Tiote. Always enjoyed sitting next to you in the dressing room my friend.”

Paul Dummett (Newcastle United player): “Gutted to hear the news. A real nice guy. He helped me a lot as I was breaking into the first team so I can’t thank him enough.

Premier League Files: Peter Beardsley

Premier League Career: Everton (1992-1993), Newcastle United (1993-1997), Bolton Wanderers (1997-1998)

Peter Beardsley had a magical football career that in terms of his playing days, spanned 20 years. He won multiple league championships during Liverpool FC’s last glory period in English football and represented England at two World Cup finals and the 1988 European Championships in West Germany.

Beardsley’s achievements within the game can’t be ignored. His best days might have occurred just before the launch of the Premier League but he still played a significant part in Newcastle United’s free-flowing and entertaining approach they took to the new era of English football under Kevin Keegan.

After winning two league titles and the FA Cup in 1989, Beardsley was discarded by Liverpool FC boss Graeme Souness in the summer of 1991. Souness was reshaping the squad at Anfield and wanted to bring in a fresher, younger player. His decision to sell Beardsley to Merseyside rivals Everton didn’t make him that popular with either side of the city.

He scored 25 goals in two seasons at Goodison Park, including 10 in the first Premier League season. Sweetly for him, one of those goals was a winning goal in a Merseyside Derby against the Reds’ in December 1992. Beardsley became only the second player in the proud history of this famous fixture to have scored for both Liverpool FC and Everton.

The Toffees’ though were in financial trouble off-the-field. When hometown club Newcastle United offered them £1.5m for Beardsley’s services in July 1993, Everton simply needed to take the money, especially as Peter was now 32-years-old.

This was his second spell with the Magpies’, having played for them between 1983 and 1987. He had been Keegan’s strike partner then. Now, Kevin was his new manager and Beardsley flourished back on Tyneside. He scored 21 league goals in a formidable strike partnership with Andy Cole. Their total of 55 combined outscored several Premier League teams in their entitrely. Newcastle finished a fabulous third in their debut campaign and qualified for the UEFA Cup.

A broken cheekbone on the opening weekend of the following season saw Beardsley miss early season matches and he had already hit his peak with his local club. He still achieved 13 goals in 1994-1995 to top Newcastle’s goalscorers’ chart after Cole had departed for Manchester United in January 1995. Beardsley almost captained the club to the ultimate prize in 1996 but the club threw away a 12-point lead and it was the Red Devils’ who claimed their third title in four seasons instead.

When Alan Shearer arrived at St James’ Park for a world-record transfer fee in the summer of 1996, Beardsley switched into a deeper midfield role to accommodate the striking talents of Shearer and Les Ferdinand. His role became more restricted as the season continued and in August 1997, with Kenny Dalglish having replaced Keegan in the dugout, Beardsley was sold to Bolton Wanderers for £450,000. He featured 21 times in 1997-1998 for the Trotters’ but couldn’t stop them sliding back into Division One after one season in the Premier League. That was the end of his top-flight days. Peter finished his career with brief spells at Fulham, Hartlepool United and finally, two games for the Melbourne Knights in Australia before hanging up his boots in 1999.

He immediately returned to Newcastle United once he finished playing to start a successful coaching career. He has spent that time working mainly with the club’s reserves’ side and training youngsters how to finish as an attacking coach. Considering his fantastic goalscoring ratio and record, these young talents have a fine tutor to listen to.

Premier League Files: Tim Flowers

Premier League Career: Southampton (1992-1993), Blackburn Rovers (1993-1999), Leicester City (1999-2002)

Tim Flowers has experienced the highs and lows of Premier League football. Once Britain’s most expensive goalkeeper when he transferred to Blackburn Rovers in 1993, he was an integral part of the Rovers’ squad that upset Alex Ferguson and Manchester United’s early Premier League dominance to win the title in 1995. Four years later, he was with the same club as they slipped out of the top-flight.

Born in Kenilworth, Flowers began his career with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the mid-1980s. He was a regular in-goal at Molineux during dark days for the club and was ultimately sold in 1986 to avoid the club filing for bankruptcy. Southampton came calling where he spent time out on-loan to Swindon Town to keep match practice levels up whilst being a loyal understudy at the Dell to the great Peter Shilton.

When Shilton left for Derby County, Flowers became the first-choice on the south coast and started to put in some fantastic performances on a regular basis. His goalkeeping feats were being noted by the bigger teams in England and a transfer away was highly mooted for months before it actually happened.

Liverpool FC showed serious interest but it Jack Walker’s millions that convinced Flowers to join the revolution at Blackburn. He cost the Lancastrians £2.4million on 4 November 1993 – becoming Britain’s most expensive goalkeeper. Flowers immediately displaced Bobby Mimms and became a fearsome opponent to beat inside the posts at Ewood Park.

The title eluded Blackburn in 1993-1994 but they put in an even sterner challenge the following season. Exiting all the cup competitions early on seemed to help Kenny Dalglish’s side and Flowers often came up with match-winning saves and vital contributions. Against Newcastle United in May 1995, he was simply unbeatable. Blackburn had to win the game to protect their advantage in the title race and thanks to Alan Shearer’s header; they beat the Magpies’ 1-0. However, they won’t have won had it not been for a goalkeeping masterclass. Flowers made save after save to keep the likes of Peter Beardsley, Ruel Fox, Paul Kitson and Rob Lee out. Afterwards, he responded to remarks made by Ferguson about Dalglish’s side bottling the job towards the end of the season. He said on Sky Sports. “Don’t talk to me about bottle, don’t talk to me about bottling it, cos that’s bottle out there. That’s quality players out there, giving their all. The ball is back in United’s court now. They’ve got a tough fixture against Southampton but we’re going to fight to the death, because we’ve got bottle!”

United did win their game in hand to take the race for the title to the wire but it was they who came up short at the final hurdle. A draw at Upton Park on the final day made Blackburn’s late defeat at Anfield immaterial. Blackburn Rovers were champions of England and Flowers’ contribution to the title cause couldn’t be ignored.

Tougher times followed in Lancashire. He stayed with the club until their relegation. He lost his starting place under Brian Kidd’s management and admitted his time had come to leave. He joined Leicester City in the summer of 1999 in a swap deal that saw Simon Grayson go in the opposite direction. In an interview with the Leicester Mercury in 2015, he admitted: “As much as I loved my time at Blackburn, it was a massive relief to get out and play first-team football. It was huge for a manager like Martin O’Neill and the staff he had to want me. It was a no-brainer.”

Flowers won the League Cup in his first season at Filbert Street and remained with the club even after their own relegation from the top-flight in 2002. He retired from playing in 2003 and has worked in coaching since with several clubs including Nottingham Forest, Coventry City, Hull City and Fulham.

Premier League Files: Tony Dorigo

Premier League Career: Leeds United (1992-1997), Derby County (1998-2000)

Born in Adelaide, Australia, Tony Dorigo forged a fairly fruitful career which saw him scoop individual Player of the Year awards at four of his professional clubs.

Before the emergence of the Premier League, the full-back turned out for both Aston Villa and Chelsea. He was sold to Leeds United in the summer of 1991 for £1.3m and was part of the side that won the last Football League title before the Premier League was formed in 1992.

Dorigo ended in the PFA Team of the Year in 1992/1993; the only positive in a pitiful season for the reigning champions as they finished a dreary 17th and without an away win all season. He stayed with the Yorkshire side before moving to Torino in 1997.

The club’s financial problems meant his Italian experience was brief. Dorigo spent only one season abroad and returned to England, playing another two Premier League campaigns for Jim Smith at Derby County. He scored one Premier League goal for the Rams; a penalty against East Midlands rivals’ Nottingham Forest in November 1998.

Dorigo dropped down the divisions to finish his club career with Stoke City where he was club captain. He won 15 caps for England and was part of the squad that reached the World Cup semi-finals at Italia 90. After hanging up his boots, Dorigo has forged a reputable career as a football pundit. He has worked for the likes of ESPN, Eurosport and Channel 5 and commentates on Premier League matches for Absolute Radio.

Premier League Files: David Bardsley

Premier League Career: Queens Park Rangers (1992-1996)

David Bardsley had a playing career that spanned almost two decades. He started his career at Blackpool and was part of the Watford squad that reached the FA Cup final in 1984, losing to Everton in the showpiece event.

After two seasons with Oxford United, Bardsley joined Queens Park Rangers for £500,000 in 1989 and was part of the Hoops team that often punched upon their weight in the early Premier League years.

Bardsley’s consistency in the maiden Premier League season won him international recognition from Graham Taylor and England, playing in a World Cup qualifier against Poland. At club level, his performances were recognised by his peers as his made the PFA Team of the Year.

Queens Park Rangers finished in the top nine in each of the first three Premier League seasons but relegation followed in 1996. He stayed loyal to the club but unfortunately, a career-threatening Achilles injury kept Bardsley virtually on the sidelines for two seasons. He left the club in 1998, returning to Blackpool before finishing his career with a brief cameo for Northwich Victoria in 2001.

Following retirement, Bardsley opened his own soccer schools and moved to America in 2006, setting-up the Orlando FC QPR Academy USA. It is a programme for kids’ from the ages of 13-20 to teach them the basics of the beautiful game. He also works as a freelance commentator and analyst.