Tag Archives: featured

Premier League Files: Mustapha Hadji

Premier League Career: Coventry City (1999-2001), Aston Villa (2001-2004)

Currently assistant manager of the Morocco international team, it has been over 20 years since Mustapha Hadji made his impact as a player, scoring a brilliant goal for his country on the opening day of the 1998 World Cup finals against Norway. Hadji tried his luck in the Premier League in 1999 with Coventry City and remained on these shores for five years, having also represented Aston Villa. He still remains as one of the most successful players to represent his country in the Premier League.

Born in Ifrane Atlas-Saghir, Hadji left his homeland for France at the age of 10 and began playing football shortly afterwards at youth level. He made his professional debut with AS Nancy in 1991 and remained with them for five years, scoring 31 times in 134 league appearances. He was part of the Morocco squad that played in the 1994 World Cup finals, although they would lose all their matches in the group stage. He came on as a substitute in two of these matches and setup a goal for his teammate Hassan Nader against the Netherlands.

In 1996, Hadji moved to Portugal but had an unhappy year at Sporting Lisbon and also struggled to make an impact during a two-year stay at Deportivo La Coruna where he was limited to 31 appearances. So, the 1998 World Cup finals was a chance for him to make his mark. He duly delivered in that opening game against Norway which finished in a 2-2 draw. Hadji was also exceptional in Morocco’s victory against Scotland. However, Norway’s late win over holders Brazil meant the Africans were eliminated in the group stage again. Despite this disappointment, Hadji was named African Footballer of the Year.

In 1999, Gordon Strachan took him to the Premier League, bringing Hadji and his international colleague, Youssef Chippo to Coventry City. A goalscoring attacking midfielder, Hadji scored 12 times in 62 appearances for the Sky Blues and quickly became a cult hero at Highfield Road. He raised his levels when the higher-profile clubs visited Coventry and his best game for the club arguably came on Boxing Day 1999. He scored a brilliant curling effort from distance in a surprising 3-2 victory over Arsenal.

He was the club’s joint top goalscorer in 2000-2001 alongside Craig Bellamy but Coventry were relegated at the end of the season. That was despite Hadji’s best efforts in the game they went down as he scored twice at Villa Park against Aston Villa. His goals in the game put Coventry 2-0 up but they squandered that advantage and Paul Merson’s late winner, coupled with a Derby victory at Old Trafford sent the Sky Blues down to the First Division.

John Gregory was impressed by Hadji’s form at Coventry, so kept him in the Midlands by signing him for Aston Villa in the summer of 2001. He scored in a UEFA Cup tie against Varteks and twice in the Premier League away at Southampton and Everton. However, Gregory’s departure in January 2002 was a disaster for Hadji’s English career. He became a sporadic player for Graham Taylor and was barely used by David O’Leary too. In 2004, he was released and joined Espanyol on a free transfer.

He ended his playing career in July 2010 after periods playing in the United Arab Emirates, as well as for 1. FC Saarbrucken in Germany and CS Fola Esch in Luxembourg. He scored 25 goals in 44 appearances for the latter before hanging up his boots.

Hadji made the move into coaching in 2012 as an assistant for the Qatari club Umm Salal before being appointed assistant manager for Morocco before the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. He is also involved in partnership with plans to invest in Morocco, providing opportunities for local people to help reduce poverty from his homeland.

Advertisements

The Foreign Legion: Nigeria

Number of Nigerian Players to have played in the Premier League: 42

Most appearances: Shola Ameobi (299)

Most goals: Yakubu (95)

Appearances (Top 25): Shola Ameobi 299, Kanu 273, Yakubu 252, John Obi Mikel 249, Joseph Yobo 228, Victor Moses 220, Victor Anichebe 204, Celestine Babayaro 180, Efan Ekoku 158, Peter Odemwingie 129, Jay-Jay Okocha 124, Dickson Etuhu 111, Alex Iwobi 100, Kelechi Iheanacho 97, Obafemi Martins 92, Wilfred Ndidi 88, Ade Akinbiyi 76, John Utaka 66, Odion Ighalo 55, Isaac Success 49, Daniel Amokachi 43, Sone Aluko 42, Danny Shittu 40, Seyi Olofinjana 37, Finidi George 25

Goals (Top 25): Yakubu 95, Kanu 54, Efan Ekoku 53, Shola Ameobi 43, Peter Odemwingie 37, Obafemi Martins 28, Victor Anichebe 27, Victor Moses 20, Odion Ighalo 17, Kelechi Iheanacho 16, Jay-Jay Okocha 14, Ade Akinbiyi 11, Alex Iwobi 11, Daniel Amokachi 10, Joseph Yobo 8, John Utaka 7, Finidi George 6, Celestine Babayaro 5, Dickson Etuhu 4, Brown Ideye 4, Wilfred Ndidi 4, Victor Obinna 3, Seyi Olofinjana 3, Sone Aluko 2, Ahmed Musa 2

Assists (Top 25): Kanu 29, Victor Moses 26, Shola Ameobi 20, Alex Iwobi 19, Victor Anichebe 18, Peter Odemwingie 18, Yakubu 16, Kelechi Iheanacho 12, John Obi Mikel 11, John Utaka 10, Odion Ighalo 6, Obafemi Martins 6, Wilfred Ndidi 5, Victor Obinna 5, Sone Aluko 4, Hope Akpan 4, Celestine Babayaro 3, Dickson Etuhu 3, Jay-Jay Okocha 3, Taye Taiwo 3, Brown Ideye 2, Isaac Success 2, Joseph Yobo 2, Julius Aghahowa 1, Ade Akinbiyi 1

All data correct upto the end of the 2018-2019 season

One of the most popular African countries in the Premier League era has been Nigeria. There has been a steady influx of Nigerian players in the first 27 years of Premier League football, with no fewer than 42 representatives. Some have had great success and become Premier League champions, whilst others didn’t have the impact they hoped for.

The first Nigerian player to make a significant impact on the Premier League was Efan Ekoku. He joined Norwich City in 1993 and enjoyed a productive spell on these shores. He first came to attention by becoming the first player to score four goals in a Premier League match when he ran riot at Goodison Park in September 1993. Ekoku got four of Norwich’s five on the day in a 5-1 win at Everton. He transferred to Wimbledon in October 1994 and became a fans favourite with the Dons supporters until their relegation in 2000.

Ekoku was joined in the Premier League in the summer of 1994 by Daniel Amokachi who signed for Everton after his excellent performances for The Super Eagles at the 1994 World Cup finals. Under-pressure Mike Walker signed him for £3 million and it took a while for Amokachi to settle on Merseyside. He started to flourish in the second half of the season. He helped the Toffees win the FA Cup final and scored 10 times in 43 appearances before leaving for Besiktas in 1996. Although he had his outstanding games and became a cult hero, there was a feeling that he hadn’t quite manage to justify the transfer fee Walker paid for him.

Nigeria’s leading marksman in the Premier League is Yakubu. He made his Premier League debut in 2003 with Portsmouth and went on to play for Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn Rovers in the top-flight. Yakubu often finished in the top 10 goalscorers for the league in most seasons, making a big impact for all of the clubs he represented. He was part of the Everton side that finished fifth in 2007-2008 and reached the UEFA Cup final with Middlesbrough in 2006.

Nigeria has plenty of title winners among their ranks. John Obi Mikel wasn’t always the most popular player at Chelsea but he did provide nearly a decade of service to the west Londoners. He won the Premier League title with the Blues in 2010 and 2015. He would play alongside Victor Moses at Chelsea. After a series of loan periods away at Liverpool FC, Stoke City and West Ham United, Moses came to the fore in Antonio Conte’s debut season as Chelsea manager. Utilised as a wing-back, Moses was one of the success stories of Chelsea’s 2016-2017 title-winning side. Kanu is also a title winner, part of the Arsenal sides that won the championship in 2002 and 2004. He produced some outrageous moments of skill during his Arsenal days. He also provided the Premier League with one of the most famous misses against Middlesbrough whilst playing for West Bromwich Albion in November 2004.

The player with the most appearances from Nigeria is Shola Ameobi. Ameobi made 295 appearances for Newcastle United over 14 years and also added another four appearances to his tally in 2015 during a short period with Crystal Palace. Ameobi was often the perfect foil for Alan Shearer and a capable understudy, even if he never managed double figures in any top-flight campaign he took part in. He did though boast an unbelievable record in the Tyne & Wear Derby against Sunderland, scoring doubles in home victories over the Black Cats in 2005 and 2010.

Bolton Wanderers supporters will never forget Jay-Jay Okocha. Okocha was one of the most skilful players in the Premier League during his four-season stay in Lancashire, scoring 14 goals in 124 appearances. His crucial goals and matchwinning contributions were vital to the Trotters staying in the top-flight in 2002-2003.

Other notable Nigerian players include Odion Ighalo. No player in England’s top four leagues scored more league goals than Ighalo in 2015 and he had a prolific period at Watford alongside Troy Deeney. Peter Odemwingie had a lively spell with West Bromwich Albion which ended acrimoniously after famously pulling up in Queens Park Rangers’ car park in January 2013, believing he was about to sign for them, even though he hadn’t received permission to talk to the club! There are five Nigerian players currently in the Premier League. Their current charge is led by Alex Iwobi, who made his 100th Premier League appearance for Arsenal in May 2019.

The Clubs: Leicester City

Updated upto the end of the 2018-2019 Premier League season

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
498 157 136 205 623 718 -95 607 13

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Muzzy Izzet 222
Matt Elliott 199
Jamie Vardy 176
Robbie Savage 172
Kasper Schmeichel 163
Steve Guppy 161
Wes Morgan 156
Neil Lennon 155
Marc Albrighton 150
Riyad Mahrez 139

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Jamie Vardy 80
Riyad Mahrez 39
Emile Heskey 33
Muzzy Izzet 33
Tony Cottee 27
Matt Elliott 22
Ian Marshall 18
Leonardo Ulloa 18
Paul Dickov 15
Shinji Okazaki 14

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Leicester City 5-1 Queens Park Rangers 24th May 2015 2014-2015
Derby County 0-4 Leicester City 26th April 1998 1997-1998
Leicester City 4-0 Leeds United 15th September 2003 2003-2004
Leicester City 4-0 Swansea City 24th April 2016 2015-2016
Leicester City 5-2 Sunderland 5th March 2000 1999-2000
Southampton 1-4 Leicester City 13th December 2017 2017-2018
West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Leicester City 10th March 2018 2017-2018
Huddersfield Town 1-4 Leicester City 6th April 2019 2018-2019
Leicester City 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur 13th September 1997 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 0-3 Leicester City 11th April 1998 1997-1998

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Arsenal 6-1 Leicester City 26th December 2000 2000-2001
Leicester City 1-6 Tottenham Hotspur 18th May 2017 2016-2017
Arsenal 5-0 Leicester City 20th February 1999 1998-1999
Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers 18th August 2001 2001-2002
Leicester City 0-5 Aston Villa 31st January 2004 2003-2004
Crystal Palace 5-0 Leicester City 28th April 2018 2017-2018
Leicester City 2-6 Manchester United 16th January 1999 1998-1999
Manchester City 5-1 Leicester City 10th February 2018 2017-2018
Chelsea 4-0 Leicester City 8th October 1994 1994-1995
Leicester City 0-4 Manchester United 15th April 1995 1994-1995

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Brian Little 1 22nd November 1994
Mark McGhee 1 7th December 1995
Martin O’Neill 4 1st June 2000
Peter Taylor 2 30th September 2001
Dave Bassett 1 6th April 2002
Micky Adams 2 10th October 2004
Nigel Pearson 1 30th June 2015
Claudio Ranieri 2 23rd February 2017
Craig Shakespeare 2 17th October 2017
Claude Puel 2 24th February 2019
Brendan Rodgers 1  

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Leicester City 4-2 Sunderland 8th August 2015 32,242 2015-2016
Leicester City 2-2 Manchester United 23rd December 2017 32,202 2017-2018
Leicester City 0-0 Burnley 10th November 2018 32,184 2018-2019
Leicester City 1-2 Liverpool FC 1st September 2018 32,149 2018-2019
Leicester City 1-1 Newcastle United 26th December 2003 32,148 2003-2004
Leicester City 0-1 Manchester United 3rd February 2019 32,148 2018-2019
Leicester City 3-1 Everton 7th May 2016 32,140 2015-2016
Leicester City 2-0 Liverpool FC 2nd February 2016 32,121 2015-2016
Leicester City 1-1 Manchester United 28th November 2015 32,115 2015-2016
Leicester City 1-0 Norwich City 27th February 2016 32,114 2015-2016

 

Intro

In 2015-2016, Leicester City produced the greatest story the Premier League has ever seen. The 5000-1 bookies outsiders for the title produced a fairytale, landing their first-ever English top-flight title. Before this, the Foxes had experienced relegation three times in the Premier League and only narrowly avoided another drop in 2014-2015 due to an incredible run-in under Nigel Pearson’s guidance. They are now a regular top 10 club and are managed by the former Swansea City and Liverpool FC boss, Brendan Rodgers.

 

1994-1995

It was third time lucky for Leicester City in the play-offs, achieving promotion for the first time to the Premier League elite in 1994. Brian Little was their manager but the going was very tough. Leicester won just twice before Little departed in mid-November to take the reins at his former club, Aston Villa. Mark McGhee took over but had little chance of pulling off a miracle and the Foxes became the first team to be relegated in mid-April, finishing 21st out of 22 teams.

 

1996-1997

Martin O’Neill guided Leicester back into the Premier League at the first attempt after more play-off glory and 1996-1997 would be a triumphant return for Leicester. They finished in a superb ninth place and won the League Cup, beating Middlesbrough in a replay 1-0 in the final thanks to a goal from Steve Claridge. This was also the season where Emile Heskey started to make his breakthrough on the Premier League with 10 goals.

 

1997-1998

Leicester enjoyed another solid season under Martin O’Neill’s guidance. He won the Manager of the Month award in September for his early season achievements which included a stirring fightback to draw 3-3 with Arsenal, having been 2-0 down with only five minutes to go. One of the club’s most eye-catching results came towards the end of the season with a 4-0 away victory at Derby County. Leicester finished the season in 10th place.

 

1998-1999

For the third successive campaign, Leicester achieved a top half finish and it was 10th again. Despite being heavily linked with the Leeds United vacancy in October, O’Neill stayed loyal to the club and signed a new contract. It turned into a fairly uneventful campaign for the supporters but the foundations had been laid and the club from Filbert Street were now seen as a stable mid-table top-flight side.

 

1999-2000

Leicester City surpassed their ninth place finish of 1997, going one better to record an eighth place finish in the table in 1999-2000. There was more joy in the League Cup with a second final victory in four years, as plucky First Division outfit Tranmere Rovers were seen off 2-1. Leicester also took a gamble on Stan Collymore in February and he repaid the faith with a hat-trick in a 5-2 victory over Sunderland. However, he suffered a horrible injury a month later in a defeat at Derby and Emile Heskey’s departure for £11 million to Liverpool FC convinced Martin O’Neill to move on. He went north of the border to manage Celtic at the end of the season.

 

2000-2001

Glenn Hoddle’s former assistant from England duty, Peter Taylor was chosen as Leicester’s new manager and initially, he settled in very quickly. The Foxes stayed unbeaten until mid-October and even enjoyed the October international break on top of the Premier League table. A 2-0 win over Liverpool FC in March took Leicester into fifth place but they finished the campaign dismally. An FA Cup sixth round defeat at home to Wycombe Wanderers was followed by nine defeats in their last 10 games to finish in 13th position. It wouldn’t get any better in the following season for the supporters.

 

2001-2002

Peter Taylor began the season as a man under pressure and it showed. Leicester lost their first two matches by an aggregate of 9-0 to Bolton Wanderers and Arsenal respectively. At the end of September, he lost his job after winning just one of his first eight matches of the campaign.

Dave Bassett was brought in to save the club from relegation but form didn’t improve. Leicester spent Christmas Day bottom of the table and relegation was confirmed following a 1-0 home defeat to Manchester United in early April. Bassett moved upstairs and was replaced by his assistant manager, Micky Adams.

2001-2002 was also the final season of football to be played at Filbert Street. They signed off with a 2-1 final day win over Tottenham Hotspur before moving into their new ground which was initially called The Walkers’ Stadium.

 

2003-2004

Runners-up to Portsmouth in the 2002-2003 First Division, Leicester City bounced back to the Premier League at the first attempt but were destined to struggle all campaign on their return. There was an early season 4-0 thumping of Leeds United in September and three wins in November took them as high as 12th. However, after a last-minute equaliser from Craig Hignett to draw 1-1 with Arsenal, the Foxes failed to win any of their next 12 matches.

In March, eight players were arrested after being accused of sexual assault on three German women during a training camp in La Manga. Three players, Keith Gillespie, Paul Dickov and Frank Sinclair were all charged but the case was later dropped.

Leicester did win at Birmingham a few days after this incident went public but relegation back to the second-tier was confirmed by a 2-2 draw at Charlton Athletic in early May; two weeks before the end of the season.

 

2014-2015

After an absence of 10 seasons, Leicester were back in the top-flight and made a decent start, drawing at home to Everton and Arsenal, then produced a remarkable comeback at home to Manchester United, storming back from 3-1 down to win 5-3 with club-record signing Leonardo Ulloa scoring twice.

However, they spent the bulk of the campaign bottom of the table, winning only two more games between that win over the Red Devils and the end of March. Seven points adrift of safety, Nigel Pearson’s side looked doomed but they produced an incredible run of form, winning seven out of their final nine matches. The remarkable escape from the drop was completed by a goalless draw at Sunderland on the final Saturday of the season. Their escape from relegation is among the best escape acts seen in Premier League history.

 

2015-2016

After some off-field transgressions, Leicester’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha decided to replace Nigel Pearson with Claudio Ranieri in the managerial hotseat. Quoted 3-1 favourites for relegation and 5000-1 outsiders to win the title, Leicester defied expectations in more ways than one.

They were the final club to taste defeat at the end of September to Arsenal and Jamie Vardy broke the record for scoring in successive Premier League matches (11) against Manchester United in November. Leicester spent Christmas Day top of the table after a 3-2 win over Everton. Riyad Mahrez scored twice at Goodison and the Algerian won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year after an outstanding individual campaign.

Leicester became title favourites in early February when Vardy scored a Goal of the Season contender to defeat Liverpool FC 2-0, and then followed that a few days later with an impressive 3-1 victory away at pre-season favourites Manchester City. The fearless Foxes continued to stun the footballing world with some wonderful displays. In early May, they had the chance to wrap the title up at Old Trafford.

The 1-1 draw with Manchester United delayed the celebrations for 24 hours but Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with title rivals Tottenham Hotspur completed the fairytale story. The 5000-1 outsiders had just completed the impossible dream. Leicester City were the 2015-2016 Premier League champions.

 

2016-2017

It was always going to be a virtually impossible task to repeat the 2015-2016 heroics and the summer departure of imperious midfielder N’Golo Kante to Chelsea didn’t help Claudio Ranieri. Leicester’s away record was abysmal, failing to win away from The King Power Stadium until a 3-2 success in March at West Ham United. They went nearly two months without a Premier League goal and in February 2017 with rumours of player unrest, Ranieri was brutally sacked less than 24 hours after a first leg UEFA Champions League loss to Sevilla.

Ranieri’s assistant Craig Shakespeare was brought in as his replacement and he guided the club to eventual safety. They finished in 12th place which remains the worst title defence from a Premier League championship-winning side.

 

2017-2018

Craig Shakespeare was given the permanent job in the summer but he didn’t last long. Only two wins in his first eight matches saw him fired after an underwhelming 1-1 home draw with West Bromwich Albion in mid-October. He was replaced by former Southampton boss Claude Puel. Puel did inspire a four-game winning sequence early into his reign but Leicester finished in ninth place and a dismal run at the end of the season led to speculation about his long-term future. For the third successive season, Jamie Vardy finished as top scorer, ending with 20 Premier League strikes.

 

2018-2019

Leicester City’s 2018-2019 season was overshadowed by the tragic events that occurred outside The King Power Stadium on Saturday 27th October 2018. Just over an hour after drawing 1-1 with West Ham United, the helicopter belonging to owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed shortly after take-off from the pitch. Five people, including Vichai were killed.

Leicester were united in grief with a wealth of floral tributes outside the ground to their owner. They played on a week later with an emotional 1-0 victory at Cardiff and Puel’s strength in such an overwhelming sense of tragedy was widely praised. There was an excellent festive period which brought about victories over Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton but a run of four defeats in six games and an FA Cup exit at League Two side Newport County AFC saw him sacked towards the end of February.

Brendan Rodgers returned to the Premier League after a trophy-laden spell in Scotland with Celtic and steered Leicester to a ninth place finish for the second successive season.

Premier League Files: Benjani

Premier League Career: Portsmouth (2006-2008), Manchester City (2008-2009), Sunderland (2010), Blackburn Rovers (2010-2011)

Benjani became only the third Zimbabwean player after Bruce Grobbelaar and Peter Ndlovu to play in the Premier League. He played for four clubs in the top-flight between 2006 and 2011, though it was his spell at Portsmouth for which he will forever be associated with.

Benjani began his career playing in South African football before moving to Europe in 2001, joining Swiss outfit Grasshoppers Zurich on-loan. A year later, he moved to a talented Auxerre side and made the most of an injury to Djibril Cisse, settling down and scoring goals quickly for Guy Roux’s side. He scored seven times in his debut season and experienced UEFA Champions League football for the first time. 11 goals followed in the 2004-2005 campaign but when Jacques Santini succeeded Roux as manager, he tweaked the formation and Benjani was made surplus to requirements.

Marseille expressed an interest to sign him but Benjani liked English football and went to Portsmouth instead. The south coast club paid a club-record fee of £4.1 million to sign him in January 2006. Harry Redknapp made the purchase after receiving a recommendation from Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger.

Benjani was instantly ridiculed by pundits for his lack of goals but the fans loved him at Fratton Park, impressing with his high work-rate and setting up chances for his teammates. It took him 15 games before he found the back of the net for Pompey but it was a crucial goal in a 2-1 victory away at Wigan Athletic, helping Portsmouth to avoid relegation from the top-flight.

His best season undoubtedly was in 2007-2008. In the encounter against Reading in September 2007, Benjani scored a hat-trick in a thrilling 7-4 victory for Portsmouth which remains the highest scoring match in Premier League history. In January 2008, he scored another treble as Pompey came from behind to defeat Derby County 3-1. That took his tally to 12 goals for the season, surpassing his target of 10 that he’d personally set. However, it would be the last goal of his first spell at the club.

Sven-Goran Eriksson was interested in signing the player and on transfer deadline day, Portsmouth accepted an £8 million bid from Manchester City. Benjani was reluctant to leave but Pompey had already agreed to sign Jermain Defoe from Tottenham Hotspur and planned to finalise the transfer by selling Benjani. Despite missing two flights to Manchester for a planned medical, the move did eventually go through.

He made a great debut, scoring a header to win the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford for his new club. He added further goals against his former club Portsmouth and Fulham. However, Eriksson left in the summer of 2008 and along with injuries and added competition from the likes of Robinho and Craig Bellamy, Benjani’s amount of game time became seriously limited.

He was allowed to leave in the summer of 2009 but failed to agree personal terms over a transfer to Hull City. He remained at Eastlands until a loan move to Sunderland in February 2010 which didn’t materialise into a permanent switch. Released by Manchester City in summer 2010, Benjani joined Blackburn Rovers in August 2010. He did score twice in a 3-1 victory over Liverpool FC in January 2011 but although Blackburn were interested in keeping him beyond 2010-2011, he turned a new contract down and made an emotional return to Portsmouth, who were now playing in the Championship.

However, he couldn’t replicate his form from his previous spell at Portsmouth and was released after just a year. He finished his playing career in 2014 after a spell back in South African football.

The Managers: Chris Coleman

Premier League Clubs Managed: Fulham (2003-2007)

After a testing year experiencing relegation with Sunderland in 2018, Chris Coleman was recently trying to reboot his managerial career in China with Hebei China Fortune. However, this venture came to an end recently. Coleman’s peak moment came three years ago when he led Wales famously to the semi-finals at the 2016 European Championships.

In the Premier League, he played for Crystal Palace and Blackburn Rovers in the 1990s and spent four years as boss of Fulham, keeping the west Londoners comfortably in the mid-table reaches during that period.

Born in Swansea, Coleman’s first professional contract as a player was at Manchester City aged 16. However, he never made a senior appearance for the Citizens and left after just a year on their books citing homesickness as the reason for his departure.

Playing days at the Palace

He signed for his hometown club Swansea and spent four years with them, making nearly 200 appearances. He moved in 1991 to Crystal Palace and it was with the Eagles that he made his Premier League debut, featuring on the opening weekend in their thrilling 3-3 draw with newly-promoted Blackburn Rovers.

They reached the semi-finals of the League Cup in that campaign but were relegated in the Premier League on the final day of the season. Promotion from the First Division followed in 1994 but relegation came a year later for the second time. In December 1995, he bought his time at Selhurst Park to an end and signed for the Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers in a £2.8 million deal. He made 143 appearances for Palace, scoring 16 times which included five goals in the inaugural Premier League season of 1992-1993.

Coleman’s career at Blackburn never really took off. A persistent Achilles injury restricted him to 28 league appearances and he took the brave decision to drop down two divisions to continue his playing days at Fulham. Signing for the Cottagers in 1997, it began a 10-year association with the club as player, coach and eventually manager.

Fulham were in the Second Division on his arrival but had Kevin Keegan as manager and were owned by the Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed. Keegan quickly appointed Coleman as club captain and he led Fulham to the Second Division title in 1998-1999.

When Keegan left to take the England post in March 1999, he would be succeeded by Jean Tigana and he kept Coleman as skipper. However in January 2001, his professional career as a player effectively ended in a serious car accident in Surrey just days before an FA Cup third round tie with Manchester United. Coleman broke his leg in the accident and although he did play one reserve match in 2002, it was clear to Chris that he wouldn’t recover sufficiently to continue his playing career. In October 2002, he announced his retirement and took a place on the club’s coaching staff.

Flying at Fulham

In April 2003, Tigana left Fulham after contract negotiations broke down. Coleman was given the opportunity to take caretaker charge of the first-team for the final five matches of the season. At the time, the Cottagers still had an outside chance of being dragged into the relegation dogfight.

In his tenure, Fulham won three games and only lost once away to Leeds United. Finishing clear of danger in 14th place, he became the youngest permanent manager in the Premier League when he was given the job permanently by Al-Fayed.

Many pundits tipped them to struggle but Fulham were flying in his first full season at the helm, finishing in a creditable ninth place in the Premier League table. The west Londoners won 3-1 away at Manchester United and the goals of Louis Saha had them shooting towards potential European football before he joined the Red Devils in the 2004 January transfer window.

Andy Cole, Claus Jensen and Tomasz Radzinski were among the new arrivals in the summer of 2004 but Fulham couldn’t build on the success achieved by Chris in his first season. They finished 13th in 2004-2005, despite thrashing Norwich City 6-0 on the final day of the season.

Under his tenure, Fulham became a tough customer to play on home soil. Liverpool FC, Chelsea and Arsenal all tasted defeat during his managerial spell with the club but away from home; they became far too easy to play against. They achieved just one away victory in both the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 campaigns. Before the end of the 2007 season, he was gone.

A seven-game winless run saw the club hover only four points above the relegation zone in April and beaten 3-1 at home on Easter Monday by Manchester City. The decision was taken to relieve Coleman of his duties and he was replaced by Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez.

A club statement read: “Chris has provided a fantastic service during his 10 years at the club, but as a team and organisation Fulham Football Club has goals to attain and success to achieve – and by no means can this be compromised.”

From the wilderness to Wales

For five years after his departure from Fulham, Coleman’s management career threatened to end up in the wilderness. He went abroad first to Spain to manage Real Sociedad in July 2007 but only stayed in the post for six months, resigning after disagreements with the club’s president over the vision and direction they were heading in. At the time, Sociedad were playing in the second-tier of Spanish football.

He then returned to England, replacing Iain Dowie as boss of Coventry City in February 2008. He only managed to win 34 of his 117 matches as manager of the Sky Blues and was sacked at the end of the 2009-2010 season after a disappointing 19th place finish in the Championship. In May 2011, it was back on his travels to AEL in Greece in a stint that lasted a meagre 12 games. His career in the management game looked to be in danger of slipping away until the national job with his country came up in the most tragic of circumstances.

In November 2011, the British football world was stunned by the sudden death of Wales’s first-team manager Gary Speed at the age of just 42. The Welsh team were experiencing an upturn in their fortunes and eventually, Coleman, who had won 32 caps for his country in his playing days, agreed to take the position two months after Speed’s untimely death.

His first game was an international friendly defeat in New Jersey to Mexico in May 2011. Things didn’t start well and he became the first Welsh manager to lose his first five matches with the nadir being a 6-1 away defeat in Serbia. This meant qualification for the 2014 World Cup finals was never likely but a 2-1 victory over Scotland in October 2012 was the galvanising effect required for his management.

Reaching eighth in the FIFA World Rankings three years later, Wales qualified for the 2016 European Championships – their first major tournament appearance since the 1958 World Cup finals. Led by Ashley Williams with heroic performances from the likes of Joe Allen, Sam Vokes, Aaron Ramsey and of course, Gareth Bale – Wales went further than anyone could have expected. They topped their group ahead of England before beating Northern Ireland and Belgium in the knockout rounds. A 2-0 defeat to eventual champions Portugal in the semi-finals was no disgrace. It had been a tournament to remember for Welsh football and put Coleman back on the radar of many clubs following his management here.

He stayed in the Wales post with the aim of getting them to their first World Cup finals in 50 years. Sadly, it didn’t work out. Serbia dominated their qualifying group and a shattering 1-0 home defeat in their final group game to Republic of Ireland meant they even missed out on a play-off spot. Coleman resigned a month later.

He took over at struggling Championship club Sunderland in November 2017 but couldn’t halt the Black Cats’ slide into League One. He was relieved of his duties just before the 2017-2018 season concluded due to a board takeover.

Coleman wasn’t out of the game for long. In June 2018, he moved to China, succeeding West Ham-bound Manuel Pellegrini as the manager of Hebei China Fortune. They finished sixth in the 2018 Chinese Super League and have Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Mascherano among their squad. However, after just five points from nine matches in the new season and an early exit from the Chinese FA Cup by Chongqing Lifan, Coleman left the club in May 2019.

Iconic Moments: Arsenal sign Dennis Bergkamp (June 1995)

On 20th June 1995, Arsenal completed one of their most important signings in their history as they managed to tempt Dennis Bergkamp to the English game for £7.5 million. The Gunners had experienced a tough 1994-1995 season which had seen them finish only 12th in the Premier League and lose the Cup Winners’ Cup final to Real Zaragoza. New manager Bruce Rioch had only just been appointed and this was his first statement of intent in the Highbury hotseat.

Bergkamp had himself experienced a couple of tricky years at Inter Milan in Serie A. He’d scored only 11 goals in 52 league matches and was desperate to leave Milan for a new challenge elsewhere. This looked like a perfect match in heaven, despite Bergkamp being a Tottenham fan growing up and idolising Glenn Hoddle in his early days.

At his unveiling, he said: “It’s very attractive to me because English teams like to attack, and whenever I’ve played against sides here there have always been possibilities to score. I’m also looking forward to playing alongside Ian Wright, a great player.”

Bergkamp did take time to settle and didn’t score in his first seven appearances but once he broke his duck against Southampton in September 1995, his place with Arsenal immortality was sealed. Bergkamp won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in 1998, claimed three Premier League titles and four FA Cups before retiring in 2006.

He is now at his first club, Ajax on the coaching staff but Arsenal will always remain in the heart of Dennis Bergkamp. His plethora of great goals and outrageous skills means he has to be considered among one of the greatest foreign players to ever play in the Premier League.

The Clubs: Burnley

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
190 51 44 95 190 297 -107 197 5

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Ashley Barnes 136
Ben Mee 134
Sam Vokes 102
Jeff Hendrick 98
Tom Heaton 96
Scott Arfield 86
Jack Cork 86
James Tarkowski 85
Johann Berg Gudmundsson 84
Matthew Lowton 83

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Ashley Barnes 32
Chris Wood 20
Sam Vokes 17
Danny Ings 11
Andre Gray 9
Steven Defour 8
Graham Alexander 7
George Boyd 7
Jeff Hendrick 7
Johann Berg Gudmundsson 6

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Burnley 4-0 AFC Bournemouth 22nd September 2018 2018-2019
Hull City 1-4 Burnley 10th April 2010 2009-2010
Burnley 4-1 Sunderland 31st December 2016 2016-2017
West Ham United 0-3 Burnley 10th March 2018 2017-2018
Burnley 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur 9th May 2010 2009-2010
Burnley 3-1 Sunderland 19th September 2009 2009-2010
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-3 Burnley 9th February 2019 2018-2019
AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Burnley 6th April 2019 2018-2019
Burnley 2-0 Hull City 31st October 2009 2009-2010
Burnley 2-0 Liverpool FC 20th August 2016 2016-2017

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Burnley 1-6 Manchester City 3rd April 2010 2009-2010
Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 Burnley 26th September 2009 2009-2010
Arsenal 5-0 Burnley 6th May 2018 2017-2018
Manchester City 5-0 Burnley 20th October 2018 2018-2019
Burnley 1-5 Everton 26th December 2018 2018-2019
Liverpool FC 4-0 Burnley 12th September 2009 2009-2010
Burnley 0-4 Liverpool FC 25th April 2010 2009-2010
West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Burnley 28th September 2014 2014-2015
West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Burnley 21st November 2016 2016-2017
Burnley 0-4 Chelsea 28th October 2018 2018-2019

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Owen Coyle 1 8th January 2010
Brian Laws 1 29th December 2010
Sean Dyche 4  

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Burnley 0-2 Manchester United 23rd April 2017 21,870 2016-2017
Burnley 0-1 Manchester United 20th January 2018 21,841 2017-2018
Burnley 1-2 Manchester City 26th November 2016 21,794 2016-2017
Burnley 1-1 Bolton Wanderers 26th December 2009 21,761 2009-2010
Burnley 1-2 Liverpool FC 1st January 2018 21,756 2017-2018
Burnley 1-1 Chelsea 12th February 2017 21,744 2016-2017
Burnley 1-3 Liverpool FC 5th December 2018 21,741 2018-2019
Burnley 2-1 Leicester City 14th April 2018 21,727 2017-2018
Burnley 0-1 Arsenal 26th November 2017 21,722 2017-2018
Burnley 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur 1st April 2017 21,684 2016-2017

 

Intro

Fans of Burnley have experienced plenty of high moments in the last decade. Although they do have two Premier League relegations on their CV, the Clarets can look forward to a fourth consecutive season of Premier League football next season under the guidance of Sean Dyche – one of the best English managers at the moment. Burnley made their Premier League debut in 2009 and achieved a sensational finishing position of seventh in 2017-2018 – best of the rest after the current ‘Big 6.’

 

2009-2010

Having beaten Sheffield United in the Championship play-off final in the previous campaign, Burnley were expected to struggle in their first season at this level. However, they made Turf Moor an early fortress, collecting five wins in their first six home games. Reigning champions Manchester United were beaten in only their second Premier League game with Robbie Blake scoring a stunning winner. Everton and Sunderland were also among their early season victims.

Owen Coyle started the season as manager but in January, he acrimoniously left to take the manager’s job at fellow Lancastrian side Bolton Wanderers. The ex-Sheffield Wednesday boss Brian Laws succeeded him but Burnley’s form nosedived in the second half of the season. Relegation was confirmed in their 36th match of the season after a 4-0 home defeat to Liverpool FC but they did finish above Hull in 18th position after a 4-2 final day victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

 

2014-2015

Four years after their last taste of Premier League action, Burnley were back in the top-flight and Sean Dyche was now at the helm. His astute management of the club’s resources has put Burnley in a much better position, even if this season ended in instant relegation back to the Championship.

The Clarets didn’t enjoy victory until beating Hull City 1-0 in November but the goals of Danny Ings saw them never cut-off from the other struggling sides and the highlight of their campaign was undoubtedly George Boyd’s winner to defeat Manchester City 1-0 in March. Their relegation was confirmed in May despite completing a league double over Hull and Ings left at the end of the season for Liverpool FC.

 

2016-2017

Burnley returned to the Premier League after just a single season away and were stronger for their previous experiences. An early season victory over Liverpool FC suggested they would be harder to beat this time around. Like in their previous campaigns, Burnley’s strong platform for success was based around their home form and they were tough to beat with Crystal Palace, Southampton and AFC Bournemouth among the sides who came away empty-handed from their visits to Lancashire.

It was a different story away from home with just one victory on their travels but that success in late April at Selhurst Park meant the club avoided relegation for the first time, finishing the campaign in a rewarding 16th position.

 

2017-2018

With Joey Barton released after his ban for breaching betting rules and Andre Gray sold to Watford, questions were raised over whether Burnley had a strong enough squad to compete in the Premier League. Those doubts were quashed immediately on the opening weekend as Dyche’s side raced into a 3-0 half-time lead at Stamford Bridge and held on against nine-man Chelsea to beat them 3-2.

In December, the Clarets sat in the dizzy heights of fourth position briefly and a European adventure looked more likely. Not even an 11-game winless run could derail those lofty ambitions and a 2-1 win against Everton in early March began a five-game winning sequence which was good enough to secure seventh place and a place in the qualifying stages of the following season’s UEFA Europa League. Only the ‘Big 6’ finished above Burnley which was a heroic achievement from everyone at the club.

 

2018-2019

Burnley’s European aspirations ended in the play-off round of the UEFA Europa League as they lost to Olympiacos and the early start had a detrimental effect on their form in the Premier League. The tight defence from the previous campaign seemed to evaporate and by Christmas, Burnley had conceded more goals in the whole of the 2018-2019 campaign than what they’d let in the previous season. The low point was a 5-1 demolition on home soil by Everton on Boxing Day.

The return of captain Tom Heaton shortly afterwards and a change in tactical approach after this drubbing by the Toffees paid off. Burnley started to become harder to beat again. A seven-game unbeaten sequence which culminated with a 2-1 triumph over UEFA Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspur had them going in the right direction. Safety was secured effectively by a 2-2 draw at Chelsea with Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood forming a dangerous partnership in-attack. Burnley ultimately ended the 2018-2019 season in 15th place.

Great Goals: David Beckham – Wimbledon vs. MANCHESTER UNITED (August 1996)

On the opening day of the 1996-1997 season, David Beckham scored one of the greatest goals the Premier League has ever seen at Selhurst Park against Wimbledon.

Defending champions Manchester United were 2-0 up going into the dying stages of their first match of the season. When Efan Ekoku lost possession in the middle of the field and Brian McClair passed the ball to Beckham, nothing looked to be on for the midfielder. In his vision, he spotted Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan had strayed off his goal-line so with nothing to lose and everything to gain, Beckham decided to go for goal.

He measured his shot from inside his own half to perfection. Sullivan scrambled back but didn’t recover in-time as the ball flew over the top of him and into the net. It is a goal that even 23 years on, is still constantly repeated on highlights reels and social media.

It was a phenomenal and magical moment and set its goalscorer on his way to stardom, both on and off-the-field.

Referees in the Middle: Alan Wilkie

Premier League Career: 1993-2000

First Premier League Match: Leeds United 1-1 Chelsea (24 March 1993)

Final Premier League Match: Manchester United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur (6 May 2000)

Alan Wilkie’s Premier League career lasted for just over seven years. A strong-minded official, Wilkie’s time as a top-flight official is probably best associated with being the referee who sent off Eric Cantona at Selhurst Park in January 1995 on the night the temperamental Frenchman launched his kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace supporter.

Like many of his colleagues and predecessors, Wilkie started out with ambitions of becoming a footballer. A serious knee injury meant his football playing dreams ended in the local leagues, so he turned his attention towards officiating instead. He became a Class 3 referee in 1977 and seven years later, became a linesman in the Football League.

Beginning to officiate as a referee occasionally in 1985, he became a permanent Football League official in 1988. His first match after receiving this promotion was a game in August 1988 in the Third Division between Mansfield Town and Northampton Town which finished 1-1.

Wilkie worked very closely with one of the best referees in the business in those days in Keith Hackett and in 1991, he was selected to run the line for Hackett in the European Cup semi-final, first leg between Marseille and Spartak Moscow. The French side won the first leg on home soil 3-1 and would eventually progress to the final, where they would lose on penalties to Red Star Belgrade.

Included on the list of Premier League referees towards the end of the 1992-1993 season, his first match in the competition came on 24th March 1993 when reigning top-flight champions Leeds United were held to a 1-1 draw by Chelsea at Elland Road. He didn’t take long to brandish his first red card in the competition either, dismissing Tony Cascarino of Chelsea in this match – one of 20 red cards he gave out in his 147 matches in the competition. Wilkie also handed out 428 yellow cards and awarded 27 penalties.

Wilkie, who continued as a Telecommunications electrical engineer throughout his referee days, endured a very busy 1994-1995 Premier League season. He took charge of 25 matches and with 68 yellows and five red cards; Wilkie was often in the centre of the action. In September 1994, Sol Campbell was sent off against Southampton for bringing down Neil Heaney with Spurs winning 1-0. Whilst the red card was probably correct, he also gave the Saints a penalty which was dubious as the foul seemed to start outside the penalty area. Southampton went on to win the match 2-1.

Two weeks later, he gave out a red card to Gordon Watson of Sheffield Wednesday after only six minutes of their game against Leeds United. It remains one of the fastest dismissals in Premier League history. Then in March 1995, he retired injured during the West Ham United vs. Norwich City fixture at Upton Park. One of his linesmen on the day, Martin Sims made a severe error by sending off the wrong Norwich player. He gave Andy Johnson his marching orders when Spencer Prior was the man who should have been dismissed. However, it was an incident two months earlier that would dominate Wilkie’s season.

In January 1995, Crystal Palace and Manchester United were playing at Selhurst Park when early in the second half, Eric Cantona kicked out at Palace defender Richard Shaw. The foul was spotted by Eddie Walsh and Wilkie had no hesitation and no option but to send Cantona off for the fifth time in his Manchester United career. As he was leaving the field, the Frenchman produced a kung-fu style kick at a Crystal Palace supporter who was taunting Cantona. Wilkie, who was talking to Andy Cole, later said: “It was only in the dressing room that one of the assistants told me what he had done.”

Wilkie became the first Premier League referee to handle 100 games in the competition. The match was his 10th appointment in the 1997-1998 season which was an uneventful 0-0 draw between Coventry City and Leeds United in October 1997. Three years later, he stepped out for his most prestigious appointment of his career which was the League Cup final involving Leicester City and Tranmere Rovers at Wembley. Sadly for Alan, he sustained a calf injury after 60 minutes and had to be replaced in Leicester’s 2-1 victory by the fourth official on that day, Phil Richards.

In his penultimate match, he endured a drama-filled afternoon between Bradford City and Derby County which ended in a 4-4 draw. Unbelievably, Wilkie gave four penalties and also sent off Rory Delap in the first half of this Good Friday goal fest at Valley Parade. His final Premier League match before retirement was the game in which Manchester United lifted their sixth Premier League title after beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 in May 2000.

In 2002, Wilkie published his autobiography with the title linked to the night he sent Cantona off at Selhurst Park. It was called “One Night at the Palace: A Referee’s Story.” He now acts as a match delegate for the Premier League and Football League and he also works for the FA as a regional manager for referees in North East England.

The Managers: Harry Redknapp

Premier League Clubs Managed: West Ham United (1994-2001), Portsmouth (2003-2004), (2005-2008), Southampton (2004-2005), Tottenham Hotspur (2008-2012), Queens Park Rangers (2012-2013), (2014-2015)

Harry Redknapp’s career in professional football has spanned a staggering six decades. He had moderate success as a player but in management, has become one of the English game’s most charismatic and enjoyable characters to witness. He remains the last English manager to win the FA Cup when he guided Portsmouth to the trophy in 2008 and in 2018, become the star of the ITV reality programme I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! Redknapp became King of the Jungle.

His son, Jamie Redknapp played under him at both AFC Bournemouth and Southampton whilst the football connections continue with him being uncle to Frank Lampard, who is now making his first steps in management at Derby County.

In his playing career, Redknapp was a midfielder. He began his career at Tottenham Hotspur before moving to West Ham United at the age of 15. He broke into the Hammers first-team in the 1965-1966 season and would spend the next seven seasons in the East End of London. His best campaign was in 1968-1969, where he was a regular fixture in their team, scoring three times in 42 appearances. In total, he made 175 appearances in all competitions for West Ham.

He dropped into Division Three in 1972, joining AFC Bournemouth, spending four seasons on the south coast. In 1976, he got the opportunity to experience the American game, joining Seattle Sounders as a player-coach, reaching the play-offs in his first season out there before losing in the Division Championship final to the Minnesota Kicks. By now, Harry’s playing career was winding down but his time in management was about to get its first significant scalp.

Taking United’s scalp

He began his coaching time as an assistant manager, first to his former teammate Bobby Moore at Oxford City in the Isthmian League, then with David Webb at AFC Bournemouth. When Webb left midway through the 1982-1983 season to take the vacant position at Torquay United, Redknapp applied for the position but the board elected to give the position to Don Megson. It didn’t work out for Megson and when he was sacked with the club in the Third Division relegation zone, Harry was hired as his successor in October 1983.

Months into his first management post, he took a huge scalp as Bournemouth stunned mighty Manchester United in the FA Cup third round, beating the cup holders 2-0. This gained big national publicity and increased his rapport with the supporters which remains today whenever he comes back to The Vitality Stadium as a spectator.

Redknapp’s first major honour as a manager came in 1987 when he guided Bournemouth to the Third Division title when they broke their own club record for most points in a season, amassing 97 by the season’s end. The Cherries stayed at Second Division level for three years before being relegated in 1990. Fate was about to play its part in the next chapter of his career.

Road accident twist

At the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy, Redknapp experienced an event that would change the course of his career. On 30th June in Rome, he was on a chauffeur-driven minibus that was involved in a head-on collision with a car that was carrying three Italian soldiers.

The minibus was flipped onto its roof in the accident and doused in petrol, Redknapp was pulled to safety by York City owner Michael Sinclair, who was travelling with him at the time. He suffered a fractured skull, cracked ribs and a broken nose and also lost all his sense of smell in the accident. Tragically, there were four deaths in the crash. The soldiers in the other vehicle were all killed as was one of his best friends, the Bournemouth managing director, Brian Tiler. Had it not been for Sinclair’s intervention, there is a good chance Redknapp wouldn’t have survived.

Scarred and shattered by the experience, Redknapp returned to Dean Court in time for the new season but the zest had disappeared and he chose to resign from his position as manager at the end of the 1991-1992 season. He decided to return to the other club he’d represented as a player, West Ham United in a reduced capacity.

Redknapp returned to an assistant manager’s role, serving as no.2 to club legend Billy Bonds. It was a role he would hold for the next two seasons and a position he seemed more than comfortable with. However, with his former club Bournemouth keen to rehire him as manager in the summer of 1994, the West Ham board made a decisive decision. They decided to offer Redknapp the managerial position and move Bonds into a role upstairs. Bonds was furious and promptly quit on the eve of the 1994-1995 campaign beginning. Redknapp was now the boss at Upton Park. It damaged the relationship between the two to a point where they didn’t speak to each other for years afterwards.

Redknapp admitted: “It wasn’t a situation I wanted, I was happy working with Billy. I had nine years managing Bournemouth and didn’t want the aggro. But I suppose I came round to it.”

Stabilising the Hammers

Harry Redknapp would remain West Ham manager for seven years and for the majority of that time, enjoyed plenty of success, whilst ensuring the football played at The Boleyn Ground was often exciting for the supporters. Redknapp was keen to see youngsters come through the academy and the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole all made their breakthrough into the senior team under his tenure as Hammers boss.

It was an initial early struggle after succeeding Bonds and West Ham were at the wrong end of the table for the majority of the 1994-1995 season. However, the goals of Tony Cottee kept them safe from relegation, finishing in 14th place at the season’s end. There were crucial victories in the run-in at home to Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool FC and on the final day, their point at home to Manchester United denied the Red Devils a third successive title with the Premier League championship heading to Lancashire and to Blackburn for the first time in 81 years.

West Ham finished in the top half of the table in four of the next five campaigns with their best-ever Premier League finish being recorded in 1998-1999. A 5th place in the table ensured qualification for the much-criticised UEFA Intertoto Cup. West Ham came back early for pre-season that summer to win the competition and earn a place in the UEFA Cup.

However, tensions would rise in his final campaign with the club in 2000-2001. After an underwhelming season with the club in the bottom half of the table, he departed one match before the end of the campaign. It wasn’t until 2007 that Redknapp admitted that he had been sacked by owner Terry Brown. Brown had offered him a four-year contract but when Redknapp made some comments about him to a fanzine, those comments were leaked and reached the owner. Brown was less than impressed. Redknapp said: “I walked into his office expecting to sign the contract and walked out without a job!”

From Pompey to Saints, then back to Pompey

He returned to the managerial dugout at First Division Portsmouth in March 2002, replacing Graham Rix with the club struggling to avoid relegation. Redknapp was already at the club as Director of Football and he moved downstairs after a string of poor performances that even had owner Milan Mandaric threatening not to pay the players. He eventually did after mounting pressure.

After guiding them to safety, Redknapp added experience to the squad with the useful addition of Paul Merson and ex-Derby County boss Jim Smith joined him as assistant manager. Portsmouth stormed to the First Division title in 2002-2003 and were about to embark on Premier League football for the first time.

Survival was achieved in 2003-2004 after an excellent run towards the end of the season that saw the club finish 13th and be the only side out of the three promoted clubs that campaign to avoid the drop. The signings of Teddy Sheringham, Patrik Berger and Steve Stone played a significant part in their impressive debut campaign.

The 2004-2005 season started positively. There was a 4-3 win over Fulham and a super 2-0 success at home to Manchester United, with Yakubu in great goalscoring form. Two wins and two draws from four games in October 2004 saw Redknapp win the Manager of the Month award. He seemed a happy man. Or so we thought?

Mandaric was keen to hire Velimir Zajec as Director of Football and this was something that led to a major disagreement between the chairman and his manager. The off-field issues started to effect on-field performances. Portsmouth lost meekly to Aston Villa, Southampton and Manchester City in quick succession and after another row with Mandaric over the desire to move his assistant manager Smith on, Redknapp elected to walk away in November 2004.

Just over two weeks later, he turned up down the road at south coast rivals Southampton, replacing Steve Wigley as the club’s new manager. In the eyes of the Pompey supporters, Harry had just committed the ultimate betrayal. T-shirts were printed, calling him “Judas” and “Scummer” and it took a while for Redknapp to realise how angry the supporters felt towards him because of the fierce rivalry between the two clubs.

He admitted on the eve of his first return to Fratton Park after his departure in April 2005: “I’m not looking forward to it. It will be a difficult day. I will be glad to get it out of the way to be honest.”

He was right. Portsmouth supporters goaded him all afternoon and his new side were well-beaten 4-1. Defeat on the final day at home to Manchester United confirmed the Saints’ relegation to the Championship after a 27-year stay in England’s top-flight. It was his first Premier League relegation too.

He stayed on at Southampton that summer but was unhappy with chairman Rupert Lowe’s decision to add former coach of England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup success, Sir Clive Woodward as technical director. With the club failing to sustain any consistency in the Championship to become promotion contenders, he walked out on Southampton in early December 2005.

To complete the south coast soap opera saga, he returned to Portsmouth after they had sacked his initial replacement, Alain Perrin. The club were in relegation danger and in early March 2006, looked almost certainties for the drop. Then, two cracking goals from Pedro Mendes helped Pompey to a vital 2-1 home win over Manchester City. Further wins followed over West Ham United, Fulham, Middlesbrough and Sunderland and on the final Saturday of the season, a 2-1 success away at Wigan saw them escape relegation at the expense of Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion. For now, Redknapp was a hero again with Portsmouth supporters. It had been a crazy few years.

Spurs come calling

Portsmouth finished ninth and eighth in the next two Premier League campaigns and with more money to spend following a takeover by Alexandre Gaydamak, they became a formidable side capable of challenging for the European positions.

In 2008, Redknapp led the side to victory in the FA Cup. After knocking out favourites Manchester United with a stunning quarter-final victory, Portsmouth saw off West Bromwich Albion in the semi-finals and Cardiff City in the final with Kanu scoring the winning goal. It was the club’s first FA Cup final in 69 years and to this day, Redknapp remains the last English manager to win a major English trophy.

During the 2007-2008 campaign, Newcastle United had made an approach to Redknapp but Harry turned down this opportunity to stay at Portsmouth. He couldn’t do that though when Tottenham Hotspur came calling in October 2008. Spurs were in dire straits, bottom of the Premier League having collected just two points from their first eight league fixtures. Daniel Levy had dismissed Juande Ramos and approached Portsmouth for Redknapp’s services. A £5 million compensation fee was agreed and Redknapp was on his way to White Hart Lane, returning to the club where he had started his playing career.

There was an immediate turnaround in results. Tottenham beat Bolton 2-0 in his first game as manager and days later, they produced a remarkable turnaround from 4-2 down in the closing stages to draw the North London Derby with Arsenal 4-4 at The Emirates. Five players were added in the January transfer window, including swift returns to Tottenham for Pascal Chimbonda, Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane. They eventually finished well clear of danger, achieving 51 points for an eighth place finish and the club reached the League Cup final, losing on penalties to Manchester United.

In 2009-2010, he led Tottenham to the UEFA Champions League for the first time, finished in a brilliant fourth place in the table. The qualification was secured by a late Peter Crouch header to defeat major rivals Manchester City 1-0 at The City of Manchester Stadium. Redknapp received a soaking afterwards whilst conducting his post-match television duties from some of his players, especially David Bentley, who barely played for the club again afterwards. His efforts saw him become only the second manager to win the Premier League Manager of the Year award despite not winning the title.

Tottenham beat Swiss club BSC Young Boys in the play-off round to reach the Champions League group stages and they went on to beat both Milan clubs on their way to the quarter-finals where they eventually bowed out to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side 5-0 on aggregate. The 2010-2011 season was slightly less successful domestically with a 5th place finish meaning UEFA Europa League football for the following campaign. However, this was the campaign where Gareth Bale started to make his major impact and won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year whilst the supporters enjoyed a first victory at Arsenal in 17 years.

The 2011-2012 campaign started slowly with two big defeats to the Manchester clubs but Tottenham quickly recovered to become the closest challengers from outside the city. They were third for much of the campaign but faded dramatically after a 5-2 North London Derby defeat to Arsenal. Issues were starting to play their part away from the game.

In January 2010, he had been charged with two counts of tax evasion along with his former chairman at Portsmouth, Milan Mandaric. The charge related to a £189,000 payment made by Mandaric to Redknapp via a bank account in Monaco. The trial began in January 2012 and he was eventually acquitted of both charges two weeks later. Later that day, England’s manager Fabio Capello resigned after seeing his skipper John Terry stripped of the national team captaincy for the second time following allegations of racial abuse during a fixture between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea. Redknapp was the overwhelming favourite and admitted it was tempting to take the position if it was offered to him. However, he was overlooked and the FA chose the West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson as Capello’s successor.

Tottenham ensured a fourth place finish for the second time in three years on the final day of the season but Chelsea’s victory in the UEFA Champions League final a week later against Bayern Munich meant they took an automatic spot and relegated Spurs into the Europa League. In June 2012, he was dismissed by Tottenham after talks broke down over a new contract.

A tough time at QPR

Harry remained out of the game until November 2012 when he agreed to take over struggling Queens Park Rangers, who were winless when they appointed him to replace Mark Hughes. The task looked immense and he could only guide the team to four league victories during his time with a heavily imbalanced squad and a team that looked short on confidence. In April 2013, a terrible game at Reading saw the match finish goalless and both clubs relegated to the Championship.

Redknapp stayed on and guided QPR back to the top-flight at the first attempt, as Bobby Zamora struck a dramatic late goal in the Championship play-off final against Derby County. However, the Hoops struggled on their return back to the Premier League in 2014-2015. Despite the goals of Charlie Austin and a decent home record, their failure to claim a single point on their travels, plus failure to capture the players Redknapp desired in the January transfer window led to his resignation in February 2015. The reason for his departure was an imminent knee operation and he felt he couldn’t focus 100% on the job.

This turned out to be Redknapp’s last appointment in the Premier League but he has managed again since. He got his taste of international management with Asian country Jordan. He coached two matches in March 2016 – an 8-0 win over Bangladesh and a 5-1 defeat to Australia. A brief tenure followed at Birmingham City where he managed to guide them to Championship safety in 2016-2017 after two wins from their last three games of the season. However, a run of five straight defeats early on in 2017-2018 led to his sacking and admittance from Redknapp that this was likely to be his last position in football management.

His public persona has continued though when in October 2018, it was confirmed he was heading into the Australian jungle to take on the challenge of the ITV reality show ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ He was much-loved by his fellow campmates and also, the voting public. He beat former star of The Inbetweeners Emily Atack in the final to be crowned The King of the Jungle.

He has since managed a team of England legends including Merson, David Seaman and Robbie Fowler to victory against a team of German legends in ‘Harry’s Heroes…The Full English.’ Later this summer, he will be going on a nationwide tour, sharing some of his amazing experiences in the world of football.

He might be light on honours but with bundles of experience and knowledge of The Beautiful Game, Harry Redknapp has had an amazing career and has to be considered easily as one of the best English managers in Premier League history.

Memorable Matches: Everton 3-2 Wimbledon (May 1994)

Goalscorers: Dean Holdsworth 4 PEN, Gary Ablett 20 OG, Graham Stuart 24 PEN, 81, Barry Horne 67

Teams:

Everton: Neville Southall, Gary Ablett, David Unsworth, Dave Watson, Ian Snodin, Barry Horne, John Ebbrell (Stuart Barlow 80), Anders Limpar, Graham Stuart, Tony Cottee, Paul Rideout

Wimbledon: Hans Segers, Warren Barton, Dean Blackwell, Gary Elkins, John Scales, Peter Fear (Gary Blissett 84), Vinnie Jones, Robbie Earle, Marcus Gayle, Andy Clarke, Dean Holdsworth

Referee: Robbie Hart, Attendance: 31,233

Everton began the final day of the 1993-1994 season inside the relegation zone, a point behind Ipswich Town, Southampton and Sheffield United. The Toffees needed a victory or face up to the realistic possibility that their 40-year top-flight stay would end at the conclusion of this match against an in-form Wimbledon. Joe Kinnear’s side went into this match in an impressive sixth position, having recently defeated both league runners-up Blackburn Rovers and champions Manchester United.

The pressure was on Mike Walker’s side and they made a nightmare start. Anders Limpar stupidly handled the ball from a corner in just the third minute. The anguish on the face of the Swedish international was clear to see and he was punished by Dean Holdsworth, whose weak penalty just evaded the grasp of Neville Southall to put the visitors infront.

After 20 minutes, it was 2-0. Two Everton defenders, Dave Watson and David Unsworth went for the same ball. Andy Clarke’s mishit shot looked like it was going wide before it took a deflection off the unfortunate Gary Ablett and ended up in the back of the net. Relegation was looking likely for the Toffees after this horrendous beginning.

Hope was restored four minutes later. Limpar resorted to desperate measures in an attempt to redeem himself for his earlier error. He threw himself to the ground under minimal contact from Peter Fear. Referee Robbie Hart gave the spot-kick and replays clearly showed Limpar had made a meal of any contact. Graham Stuart showed plenty of composure in such a high-pressure situation to stick his penalty beyond Hans Segers.

Everton were still living dangerously though. Holdsworth missed two glorious opportunities to extend the advantage again before half-time. At the interval, Everton were still looking like favourites for relegation, especially as none of their relegation rivals were losing at the break. Into the second half and Holdsworth had another chance with a header that was cleared off the goal-line by Stuart. Moments later, it was 2-2. Welshman Barry Horne tried his luck from distance and his shot flew into the back of the net. Segers had absolutely no chance.

The comeback was complete with nine minutes left. Stuart played a nice combination of passes with Tony Cottee and then, his first-time shot crept past Segers and into the back of the net. There’s no doubt the Wimbledon goalkeeper was surprised by the effort and probably should have done better. However, Everton’s comeback was complete.

At the full-time whistle, the fans ran onto the pitch in a combination of relief and delight. Everton had produced one of the most unlikely turnarounds to preserve their Premier League status at the expense of Sheffield United, whose own last-gasp defeat at Chelsea meant they were relegated instead.

Premier League Files: Hector Bellerin

Premier League Career: Arsenal (2014-PRESENT)

Injury in January 2019 in a 2-0 home victory over London rivals Chelsea curtailed Hector Bellerin’s 2018-2019 season. Still only 24, the Spaniard has more than enough time to make up for the setback he currently has which means he is very unlikely to return to the Arsenal first-team before October 2019. Bellerin is considered as one of the quickest players in the Premier League and is always among the best full-backs when it comes to creating chances and making assists for his teammates.

He started out in the youth academy at Barcelona but Arsenal has been his only senior club on a permanent basis, arriving in 2011. Two years later, he’d signed his first professional contract with the Gunners and his competitive debut came like many other Arsenal youngsters looking to try and make the grade, in the League Cup. In Bellerin’s case, it was a third round tie in September 2013 against West Bromwich Albion. An eight-game loan period during the 2013-2014 season at Championship club Watford was useful and meant he was more than ready for the breakthrough into the Arsenal first-team for the 2014-2015 campaign.

There was luck about his chance. Regular right-backs Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers were both unavailable through injury for the home match against Hull City in October 2014. Arsene Wenger’s hand had been forced but he put Bellerin into the team and he was one of the better players on the day in a disappointing 2-2 draw with the Tigers. With Debuchy a long-term injury absentee, Bellerin went on to make 20 appearances in the Premier League and his first goal was a popular one with his teammates to crown a 5-0 win over Aston Villa in February 2015. The same opponents met Arsenal in the 2015 FA Cup final and Bellerin was selected to start the showpiece event which they won 4-0.

He signed a new long-term contract ahead of the 2015-2016 season and was now one of the regulars in Wenger’s team selections. He was the sole Arsenal player to make the PFA Team of the Year and came in third place in the club’s Player of the Season voting. He missed just two league games, creating 28 chances and eight assists alongside his outstanding defending responsibilities.

The 2016-2017 campaign was less successful, despite featuring 33 times. Bellerin had a difficult night in a 3-3 draw away at Bournemouth, being caught horribly out of position for the Cherries opener scored by Charlie Daniels and also being bamboozled by some of the skills from Ryan Fraser. The season had a happy ending though with victory over Chelsea meaning a second FA Cup for Hector.

He was back on-song in Wenger’s last campaign as Arsenal manager, scoring a capital cracker in the 92nd minute to salvage a 2-2 draw against Chelsea in January 2018. Bellerin played a big role in the Gunners’ run to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals, scoring in the group stages against Bundesliga side 1. FC Köln.

19 league appearances had been achieved before the devastating rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against Chelsea. Leaving in pain on a stretcher with 20 minutes left to play, it was clear that this would be a lengthy absence from the game. However, Bellerin has already received praise on his rehab from his new club boss, Unai Emery and is bound to still be a serious player for Arsenal when he returns to full fitness.