Tag Archives: Fulham

Premier League Files: Maik Taylor

Premier League Career: Southampton (1997), Fulham (2002-2003), Birmingham City (2003-2006, 2007-2010)

Goalkeeping has been a part of Maik Taylor’s professional football life. He kept goal for the likes of Fulham and Birmingham City during a career that was underrated but enjoyable. Since 2014, he has been the goalkeeping coach for the Northern Ireland international football team, a country that he served for 88 times as a player between 1999 and 2011.

Born in Hildesheim in Germany to a German mother and English father, Taylor spent his early infancy in Germany but moved to England as a schoolboy and made his Football League breakthrough in June 1995 when he signed for Barnet for a fee of just £700 from Farnborough Town. Southampton and in particular, Graeme Souness were impressed with his displays at Underhill and they made a move for him in 1997, prizing him away from Barnet for £500,000.

It showed the confidence Souness had in him straightaway that he put Taylor straight into the first-team on his arrival, displacing veteran Dave Beasant in the process. Maik kept a clean sheet on his debut in the 1-0 away victory at Middlesbrough and remained the first-choice keeper for the remainder of the season as Southampton narrowly avoided relegation. When Souness left, Dave Jones replaced him and signed Paul Jones from his former club, Stockport County in the summer of 1997. Jones immediately took the no.1 goalkeeper jersey and Taylor was restricted to warming the bench.

Kevin Keegan knew a talent was there and bought Taylor to Fulham in November 1997 for £800,000. It did mean a drop of two divisions but the guarantee of first-team football. He helped the Cottagers win the Second Division title and remained the first-choice goalkeeper even when Jean Tigana arrived to succeed Keegan in the Fulham hotseat. Taylor’s consistency in the 2000-2001 season helped Fulham win a place in the Premier League as Division One champions. However, when Tigana saw the opportunity to snap up experienced Dutchman Edwin van der Sar from Juventus, he wasn’t going to see that chance slip away. As frustrating as this must have been for Taylor, he simply couldn’t compete with someone with world-class abilities that Van der Sar possessed.

Maik stayed with Fulham and actually played a bulk of their 2002-2003 games when Van der Sar sustained an injury in December 2002 at St James’ Park that would keep him on the sidelines for a few months. However, it was Taylor who would move in the summer of 2003 to Birmingham City. The deal was initially a loan period but his outstanding displays saw Steve Bruce waste no time in triggering a £1.5 million buying fee in March 2004. Taylor’s performances were recognised by his peers and he was in the running to be included as the goalkeeper in the PFA Team of the Year before losing out to Manchester United’s Tim Howard.

Taylor remained the regular first-choice for Bruce at Birmingham for the next four seasons and despite experiencing two painful Premier League relegations, his knowledge of the Football League was vital in Birmingham ensuring they won two instant promotions under the guidance of first Bruce, then Alex McLeish. However, he spent the 2009-2010 campaign  playing second-fiddle again after McLeish signed Joe Hart on-loan for the season from Manchester City. Taylor would only play two league matches that season – both games against City as Hart was ineligible to play against his parent team. They were to be his final top-flight appearances.

He remained a squad member in 2010-2011 but never played as Ben Foster had joined from Manchester United to take the first-choice goalkeeping position and Maik was released following their third Premier League relegation. He had spells with Leeds United and Millwall before hanging up his gloves in May 2013. Two months later, he moved into coaching with Northern Ireland.


Memorable Matches: Portsmouth 4-3 Fulham (August 2004)

Goalscorers: Eyal Berkovic 19, Yakubu 22 PEN, 28, 72, Andy Cole 39, Luis Boa Morte 41, Carlos Bocanegra 75


Portsmouth: Shaka Hislop, Arjan de Zeeuw, Linvoy Primus, Dejan Stefanovic, David Unsworth, Nigel Quashie, Eyal Berkovic (Lomana Lualua 79), Steve Stone, Patrik Berger, Yakubu (Matt Taylor 88), Ricardo Fuller

Fulham: Edwin van der Sar, Carlos Bocanegra, Alain Goma, Zat Knight, Moritz Volz, Papa Bouba Diop, Sylvain Legwinski (Brian McBride 77), Claus Jensen, Luis Boa Morte, Andy Cole, Tomasz Radzinski (Collins John 68)

Referee: Barry Knight, Attendance: 19,728

Portsmouth were still awaiting their first victory of the 2004-2005 season as they welcomed Fulham to Fratton Park. Pompey had played a game less than most teams, so their position was slightly false ahead of kick-off whilst Fulham had one victory, one draw and one defeat to their name from their first three games of the season.

A feverish first half on the south coast saw five goals and a stunning opening 30 minutes from the home side. The pace of Yakubu would trouble Fulham’s backline all evening and this created the opening for the first goal, scored by Eyal Berkovic in the 19th minute. Three minutes later, Luis Boa Morte clumsily challenged debutant Ricardo Fuller and a penalty was given by referee Barry Knight. Yakubu made no mistake from 12-yards.

Fulham’s horrific opening spell continued on 28 minutes. Fuller put Yakubu through and with his right-foot shot; he defeated Edwin van der Sar once again. At this stage, it looked like a case of how many Portsmouth might end up with. However, one thing Chris Coleman had installed into his team was resolve and they weren’t going to lie down without a fight.

Six minutes before half-time, Boa Morte floated a tremendous cross from the left-wing over the head of Arjan de Zeeuw. Andy Cole made the most of the chance to beat Shaka Hislop and score his third Fulham goal since arriving in the summer from Blackburn Rovers.

Two minutes later, the Cottagers were right back in the contest. Claus Jensen played Boa Morte through and the Portuguese winger’s dramatic first half was concluded with his name joining those on the scoresheet. His shot managed to sneak through Hislop’s legs.

The end-to-end action continued in the second half. Berkovic nearly got his second of the evening with his goal-bound shot blocked by Moritz Volz whilst Boa Morte shot across the face of goal on 59 minutes having once again got the better of Linvoy Primus.

With 18 minutes left, Yakubu completed his hat-trick, firing home from close-range. Three minutes later, Carlos Bocanegra’s header at the back post saw Fulham get within a goal once again. However, they couldn’t find a way through again and Pompey held on for all three points.

Manager Harry Redknapp could raise a smile at the full-time whistle but by the end of November, he had left Portsmouth after disagreements with the club’s owner, Milan Mandaric. He took over at south coast rivals Southampton but ended the season with his first top-flight relegation. Fulham finished in 13th place.

Great Goals: Pajtim Kasami – Crystal Palace vs. FULHAM (October 2013)

Now playing for FC Sion in Switzerland, there are two things Pajtim Kasami is probably known for. One is a brief fling with X-Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger, the other for this amazing long-range volley in October 2013 against Crystal Palace.

It was a London Derby which both sides needed to win as both teams had made slow starts to the 2013-2014 season. Palace had scored early on but this goal from Kasami completely shifted the momentum away from the home side. Sascha Riether claimed the assist as his long ball found Kasami. The Swiss international controlled his pass superbly on his chest and with his second touch, produced an outstanding volley that Julian Speroni had simply no chance of saving.

Fulham won 4-1 and Ian Holloway left his position as Crystal Palace manager two days later. It didn’t quite win Goal of the Season for 2013-2014 but it was a strike that was talked about all over the country.

Premier League Files: Bryan Ruiz

Premier League Career: Fulham (2011-2013)

Eight goals and 16 assists from Bryan Ruiz during his 68-game Premier League career are solid figures for a player who is considered as a national treasure for his country, Costa Rica. Ruiz is the current captain of the international team and will be skippering them in the 2018 World Cup finals this summer in Russia. He is still playing club football at a high level too, figuring prominently in the Portuguese league with Sporting Lisbon.

The left-footed attacking midfielder made his early mark in 2003 for Alajuelense in Costa Rica. This is where he built his reputation as a formidable playmaker and a regular goalscorer. It was form that he managed to transform onto the European stage when he transferred to KAA Gent in the summer of 2006. In 2007-2008, he became captain of the team and finished as their top scorer too, notching a hat-trick against Lokeren along the way.

He was one of Steve McClaren’s key signings in 2009 when he turned up at FC Twente. It was here where he arguably played the best football of his club career. By the time he left Twente in 2011, he finished with excellent figures of 35 goals in 65 league appearances. He scored in a phenomenal 10 successive matches during the 2009-2010 season and is on the list for scoring one of the quickest hat-tricks ever seen in world football. In a match against Sparta Rotterdam in March 2010, Bryan scored in the 46th, 49th and 50th minutes as Twente won another match and held off a late challenge from Ajax to become Dutch champions for the first time in their history.

He won the Dutch Cup in the following season before switching to English football on transfer deadline day in August 2011, joining Fulham for an undisclosed fee. He made his debut two weeks later against Blackburn Rovers and his first significant contribution was to earn the Cottagers a point at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day with an equalising goal. His debut season ended prematurely when he sustained a fractured metatarsal against Bolton Wanderers in April 2012 which required surgery and kept him out for 10 weeks.

Bryan’s best form at Fulham came in 2012-2013, chipping in with five goals and nine assists as Fulham finished 12th in the final standings. This was despite a constant thigh problem that kept him sidelined for eight matches. He scored twice in a home defeat by Reading towards the end of the campaign and claimed two assists in an exciting 3-3 draw with Arsenal in November 2012.

Ruiz claimed two further assists in October 2013 during a fine Fulham away display at Crystal Palace, where they won 4-1 but it was his only significant contribution to a disappointing first half of the campaign. He joined PSV Eindhoven on-loan in January 2014 and although he did return to west London to play in the Championship, Ruiz never looked comfortable playing in a lower division. He switched to Sporting Lisbon in summer 2015 and has been a figurehead of their challenge to FC Porto and Benfica on the Portuguese domestic scene.

On the international football stage, Ruiz recently won his 100th international cap for Costa Rica, having made his international debut for them in a friendly against China in 2005. He scored twice during the country’s shock run to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2014, including the winner in the group stages against four-time champions, Italy. Ruiz will be looking forward to showcasing his skills again this summer in Russia.

Premier League Files: Paul Konchesky

Premier League Career: Charlton Athletic (1999, 2000-2005), Tottenham Hotspur (2003), West Ham United (2005-2007), Fulham (2007-2010), Liverpool FC (2010), Leicester City (2014-2015)

Paul Konchesky featured for six Premier League clubs in a much-travelled career which saw a degree of high and low points. Konchesky was an important figure in the West Ham United and Fulham sides that did so well in the mid-2000s but was ridiculed by Liverpool FC supporters for a horrific spell as the club’s main left-back after signing for the Merseysiders in August 2010. His career has continued until November 2017 when he departed ambitious non-league side Billericay Town.

A lifelong supporter of West Ham United, Konchesky signed for the club as a boy in their academy but he would first make the grade at Charlton Athletic, becoming a trainee with the Addicks in 1997. At the age of 16 years and 93 days, he made his first-team debut in a Division One match against Oxford United, becoming the club’s youngest player to feature at that particular point.

He got a brief flavour of Premier League football during Charlton’s first flirtation with the big league in 1999, coming on as a substitute in a 2-2 draw with Newcastle United, then playing the whole 90 minutes of their 2-0 victory over Wimbledon. That was Charlton’s first victory in 14 Premier League matches but they would be relegated at the end of the campaign.

Konchesky became more of a regular fixture in their second Premier League adventure, featuring 27 times as the club finished ninth in 2000-2001. In 2002-2003, he scored a brilliant free-kick at home to Blackburn Rovers and a cool lob over Chris Kirkland’s head as Liverpool FC were defeated 2-0 at The Valley weeks later. However, frustrated by not playing consistently in his regular left-back role, he submitted a transfer request in the summer of 2003 which was accepted by the Charlton hierarchy.

No offers were forthcoming though and a deal was eventually struck with Tottenham Hotspur for him to go on-loan for the 2003-2004 campaign. After playing 12 times for Tottenham, Charlton recalled him in December 2003 due to a mounting injury crisis and the differences between player and club were resolved.

Paul stayed until the summer of 2005 when the opportunity to play for the club he supported was simply irresistible to ignore. West Ham paid Charlton £1.5 million for his services and he was excellent all season, playing a significant role in the Hammers’ top-10 finish in their first season back in the top-flight after a couple of campaigns in the Championship. He also played and scored in the cracking 2006 FA Cup final against Liverpool FC when his attempted cross flew into Pepe Reina’s goal to put West Ham 3-2 ahead with just over 20 minutes to go. Steven Gerrard equalised and Konchesky was one of three players to be denied by Reina in the shootout as his day ended in sheer heartbreak.

Reunited with Alan Curbishley midway through 2006-2007 when he replaced Alan Pardew, it was clear there were still a few differences between the pair from their Charlton days. Curbishley preferred the more defensively-minded George McCartney in the left-back spot and Konchesky realised his days at the club were numbered. Despite West Ham’s late escape against the drop, he criticised the manager, claiming he made the players unhappy and miserable. He swiftly departed for Fulham in the summer of 2007.

The Cottagers snapped him up for £3.25 million and this was quite probably the best period of Konchesky’s career. You always felt he was a player who needed to feel wanted and he certainly got this at Craven Cottage. In January 2009, he scored a cracking drive from distance at West Ham which won the January Goal of the Month award and was shortlisted for Goal of the Season. His first Fulham goal was one to treasure and it was clear he enjoyed it too. In 2009-2010, he was part of the Fulham side that got all the way to the UEFA Europa League final before narrowly falling short in the showpiece event, going down 2-1 to Atletico Madrid after extra-time.

Roy Hodgson was Fulham manager when Konchesky was at the club and he took him to Liverpool FC when he was appointed the Reds’ new boss in the summer of 2010. Although Mark Hughes wanted to keep him, Paul’s desire to play for one of the biggest clubs in Europe was the deciding factor. He made a £4 million move to Anfield in August but it would turn out to be a nightmare six months on Merseyside.

He looked a pale shadow of the player that had established himself as one of the league’s best full-backs at Fulham and was heavily criticised for a late error at White Hart Lane which gifted Tottenham Hotspur all three points in November. When he was substituted against Wolverhampton Wanderers a month later, the fans cheered his departure from the field of play. It was clear they never took to Konchesky. When his mother rounded on Liverpudlian critics on Facebook, his time was over at Anfield.

One of Kenny Dalglish’s first acts as caretaker manager was to get rid of Konchesky. He was loaned to Nottingham Forest for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season and eventually, got a permanent move to Leicester City. Konchesky admitted later that his time with Liverpool was the hardest period of his career. He said: “One of the toughest, obviously, I went to Liverpool in the summer and when you move teams you think it’s going to be a big thing for you really. It obviously didn’t work out for different reasons.”

He had one final Premier League season with Leicester in 2014-2015, scoring a winning goal against Aston Villa and playing 26 times as Nigel Pearson’s side pulled off an incredible escape against the drop. His contract wasn’t renewed though and he dropped down the league pyramid to wind down his career with the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Gillingham and Billericay Town. He won two international caps during Sven-Goran Eriksson’s reign as England boss.

Paul Konchesky was always a strong and solid performer. He will always have his critics, slightly unfortunately for the tough experience he endured at Liverpool. In his prime with the London clubs though, he was always someone who you could count on to perform at the highest level.

The Managers: Jean Tigana

Premier League Clubs Managed: Fulham (2001-2003)

During the 1980s, Jean Tigana was widely considered as one of the game’s most gifted midfielders. He was a box-to-box midfielder who had endless amounts of stamina, pace and the ability to get forward and create goalscoring opportunities for his teammates.

Management took him to clubs in Turkey, China and his homeland in France. In the Premier League, he spent nearly two seasons with Fulham. They were tempestuous times but he did keep the Cottagers comfortably away from any significant relegation danger before his abrupt departure from west London in April 2003.

Semi-final pain became a regular theme

Management might have taken him globetrotting but Jean Tigana’s entire playing days were spent in just one country – France. He started his professional career as a player at Toulon, making his debut aged 20. At the time, Toulon were only a part-time team so he had to earn his keep elsewhere too, with jobs including working as a postman and in a spaghetti factory!

Those days well and truly ended when Lyon signed him in 1978, where he spent three years of his career, before giving his prime days to Bordeaux. In the 1980s, Bordeaux were the main side in French football. Having joined them for £4 million in 1981, Tigana won three league titles with the wine-region city and three domestic cups. Bordeaux didn’t quite reach the promise land of success in continental competition. They lost in the 1985 European Cup semi-finals to eventual winners Juventus and were also beaten in the 1987 Cup Winners’ Cup semis by Lokomotive Leipzig who were one of the stronger German sides until the country’s reunification.

Losing semi-finals was nothing new to Tigana. It was the same at the World Cup as France came up short in 1982 and 1986, losing semi-finals in Spain and Mexico to that old adversary in West Germany. He was part of “The Magic Square” alongside Michel Platini, Luis Fernandez and Alain Giresse in what was considered one of the greatest midfield quadruples the game has ever seen. The World Cup eluded him but Tigana was part of the squad that won the 1984 European Championships on home soil which was easily his biggest honour as a player.

He retired from international duty in 1988 and ended his playing career completely at the end of the 1990-1991 campaign, ending his days with Marseille.

Surprising Fergie and United

After taking a couple of years away from football, Tigana returned to the game in a management capacity in 1993, starting out with Lyon. After two seasons with the French side where he missed out on any major honours, he took the job at AS Monaco which turned out to be a qualified success.

Monaco became French champions in 1997 and a year later, Jean pulled off one of his finest results as a manager as the club from the principality beat Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United on away goals in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. It was at this time where he started to mould the greatness of Thierry Henry, who made his first impacts on football with Monaco before getting bigger moves to Juventus and then, Arsenal. It was Juve who crushed Monaco’s Champions League dream in 1997-1998, beating them 6-4 on aggregate in two absorbing semi-final encounters. In total, he won 92 of his 170 matches’ in-charge of Monaco.

In April 2000, he stepped out of his comfort zone of managing in his home country and took up the post at Fulham after Kevin Keegan had quit, taking the England job on a full-time basis. In his first full season, Tigana guided Fulham to the First Division title and therefore, a first top-flight campaign beckoned in 30 years.

His first match in the Premier League with Fulham was away at Old Trafford and he nearly surprised Fergie and United again, with Louis Saha giving the visitors the lead twice before two Ruud van Nistelrooy goals saw the reigning champions home to a nervy 3-2 victory. He managed to acquire Edwin van der Sar from Juventus and Fulham played some attractive football in their first season at this level. They finished a creditable 13th in the table and reached the FA Cup semi-finals before being beaten by west London rivals Chelsea.

Season two with Fulham was a tougher experience. With Craven Cottage being redeveloped into an all-seater stadium, the club had to play their home matches at Loftus Road, ground sharing with Queens Park Rangers. They did reach the dizzy heights of fourth place in early October and beat Liverpool FC a month later but the relationship between Tigana and the board was beginning to breakdown.

He was accused of overpaying on transfer fees, with the acquisition of Steve Marlet coming under particular scrutiny. Contract negotiations stalled and eventually broke down and after a limp 4-0 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers, Fulham elected to dispense with his services in April 2003. Former club captain Chris Coleman would steer the club through the rest of the season and beyond.

Tigana would later take Fulham to court for wrongful dismissal and won £2.5 million in damages. It was a sad end to a chapter that started so rosy between the Frenchman and the Premier League newcomers.

After two years away, Jean returned to the managerial circle with Besiktas, taking them to back-to-back successes in the Turkish Cup for the first time in eight years. They were his last managerial honours. Less successful spells followed with Bordeaux in 2010-2011 and more recently, in China with Shanghai Shenhua where he lasted just five matches in 2012.

He was sometimes difficult to please but Jean Tigana enjoyed a relatively successful playing career and has enjoyed great moments in management too. However, six years have now passed since his last managerial experience so it is highly unlikely we will see him in the coaching limelight in the future.

Great Goals: Ruud van Nistelrooy – MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Fulham (March 2003)

Ruud van Nistelrooy was one of Europe’s great goalscorers. His habit was being in the right place at the right time to score from close-range or play off high offside traps and exposing weaknesses in defensive strategies.

This goal was all about skill, class and pace as well – the latter never being one of Van Nistelrooy’s true qualities. He collected possession from just inside his own half and spun away from Sylvain Legwinski who claimed he had been fouled by this movement. After this though, the rest is all about genuine class.

Van Nistelrooy beats no fewer than five Fulham players who either back off or put in feeble challenges. When in the penalty area, you always would back him and this was no exception, scooping the final effort beyond the Cottagers back-up goalkeeper, Maik Taylor.

This was the second goal of a Van Nistelrooy hat-trick in United’s 3-0 victory which set them up for an eighth Premier League title in 11 seasons. Van Nistelrooy won the Golden Boot that season too and there weren’t many better efforts in his Manchester United spell that this special solo strike.

Memorable Matches: Southampton 4-2 Fulham (October 2002)

Goalscorers: Lee Clark 15, Steed Malbranque 25, James Beattie 27 PEN, 42, 52, Brett Ormerod 72


Southampton: Antti Niemi, Wayne Bridge, Jason Dodd, Claus Lundekvam, Michael Svensson, Chris Marsden, Matt Oakley, Fabrice Fernandes, Anders Svensson, James Beattie, Brett Ormerod (Agustin Delgado 79)

Fulham: Edwin van der Sar, Rufus Brevett, Steve Finnan, Alain Goma, Zat Knight (Abdeslam Ouaddou 59), Martin Djetou (Barry Hayles 63), Sylvain Legwinski, Lee Clark, Luis Boa Morte, Steed Malbranque, Steve Marlet

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 26,188

25 minutes into this clash and it looked like Southampton’s unbeaten start to their home season was set to end. Trailing 2-0 to in-form Fulham, they needed a hero on the south coast to rally themselves back into this match. Luckily, they had one in James Beattie who scored a brilliant hat-trick to help the Saints turn the game completely on its head.

Southampton went into this match on the fringes of the top 10 and had just recorded their first away win of the campaign at Aston Villa six days earlier, with Beattie the only goalscorer from the penalty spot. Fulham were flying in the top six and had already held Manchester United and Chelsea in the 2002-2003 season. On a very gusty afternoon at St. Mary’s, this looked like it was going to be an evenly-fought contest.

It was the visitors who made the better start and they took the lead slightly fortuitously after 15 minutes. Lee Clark tried his luck from distance and his shot took a deflection off Southampton defender Michael Svensson, leaving Antti Niemi completely helpless. 10 minutes later, it was 2-0. Defenders just stood and watched as Steed Malbranque made one of his trademark late runs into the penalty area. The Frenchman fired home past Niemi and it gave the home side a mountain to climb. However, they were level just before half-time.

Two minutes after the Cottagers had established the two-goal lead, the advantage had been halved. Brett Ormerod won a penalty off the hand of Alain Goma. Confident after slotting away his penalty the previous Monday at Villa Park, Beattie sent Edwin van der Sar the wrong way to get Southampton on the scoreboard. Three minutes before half-time, Fabrice Fernandes’ delightful cross was met by the head of Beattie, who guided his header beyond the Dutch goalkeeper. The marking from Fulham was very suspect to say the least but Beattie and Southampton weren’t going to care about that.

Into the second half and there only looked like being one winner. Southampton were dealing with the high winds far better than the opponents and it showed. Six minutes into the second half, Beattie completed his hat-trick; the first of his Premier League career. Anders Svensson’s free-kick was inch-perfect and the striker rose above his markers to complete his personal milestone. The scoring was completed on 72 minutes by Ormerod, converting from close-range after industrious work from Chris Marsden.

Southampton’s fourth successive win in all competitions put them in the top half and they would stay there too, finishing eighth. Fulham faded to 14th and their manager Jean Tigana lost his job before the season ended after contract talks broke down. This day though belonged to James Beattie – the hero the Saints needed as he began to charge his way to his only 20-goal season of his career.

Premier League Files: Bobby Zamora

Bobby Zamora’s career took its time to really get going but he represented all of his Premier League teams with great loyalty and desire to succeed. His best spell was with Fulham where he helped Roy Hodgson’s side to a UEFA Europa League final in 2010 and earned himself international recognition from Fabio Capello and England. A lifelong West Ham United fan, he would spend five seasons as a player for the club he grew up supporting and was often a scorer of some spectacular goals.

He started his Football League career as a trainee with Bristol Rovers in 1999 and made a few sporadic first-team appearances before going out on-loan to first Bath City, then Brighton & Hove Albion. He made an immediate impact at Brighton, scoring six goals in six matches during a three-month loan spell in 2000. This encouraged the Seagulls’ to sign him permanently for the 2000-2001 season. He would score 83 times in 136 appearances, breaking into the England Under-21 setup during this time and helping Brighton towards the second-tier of English football with back-to-back promotions.

Several Premier League clubs had been monitoring Zamora very closely, particularly Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs paid Brighton £1.5 million in July 2003 to take Bobby to White Hart Lane. He was one of Glenn Hoddle’s prime targets that summer. However, the manager was sacked in September 2003 after a poor start to the campaign which saw Tottenham winning only one of their first six games. Zamora struggled to settle too, scoring just once in 18 matches and that was in a League Cup victory over West Ham United. Had he just blown his big Premier League opportunity?

In January 2004, he dropped back down to the Football League but it was a move he needed for his career. Joyfully for Zamora, it was West Ham United where his next port of call would be as the Hammers struck a deal with Tottenham which allowed an unhappy Jermain Defoe to go in the other direction. Zamora struck an instant cord for West Ham supporters, scoring in his first two matches for the club as they narrowly missed out on an immediate return to the Premier League via the play-offs.

There was no play-off heartache in 2005. Zamora was the ultimate difference behind West Ham’s return to the top-flight. He scored four goals in the play-off matches, including the winner to defeat Preston North End in the final. He was heading back to the Premier League and it was with his boyhood club too. He made an important contribution to the 2005-2006 team under Alan Pardew that finished in 9th place and reached the FA Cup final. Bobby scored on the club’s final visit to Highbury which ended in victory over Arsenal but was one of the unfortunate victims to have a spot-kick saved in the FA Cup shootout defeat to Liverpool FC.

He started 2006-2007 in brilliant form with five goals in four matches but as the club hit a dreadful run of form, the goals also dried up for Zamora. Pardew was sacked and replaced by Alan Curbishley. Zamora did score some vital goals in the run-in which saw West Ham pull off a remarkable escape with seven wins in their last nine matches to avoid relegation. Among those goals was a winning goal at Arsenal which made West Ham the first away winners in the Premier League at The Emirates Stadium. In 2007-2008, he missed five months of the campaign because of tendinitis which restricted him to just 14 Premier League appearances and would leave Upton Park in the summer of 2008 to join Fulham.

Zamora struggled to find the net, scoring just twice in 35 league appearances over the 2008-2009 season and it looked set that his stay in the west of the capital would be just a sole season. Fulham agreed a fee with Hull City for Zamora to be sold in July 2009 to the Tigers. However, he turned down the move because he didn’t fancy moving away from London.

It was an inspired decision to stay. Zamora enjoyed his best-ever campaign in 2009-2010, scoring some vital goals in the run to the UEFA Europa League final as Fulham beat the likes of reigning holders Shakhtar Donetsk, Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg and Italian giants Juventus. Fulham suffered heartache in the final, losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid but finished a comfortable 12th in the Premier League table and he scored 19 goals in all competitions.

A late season injury ended his outside hopes of playing in the 2010 World Cup finals for England but he made his international debut in August 2010, featuring in a friendly victory over Hungary. Another injury meant he would figure just once more for the Three Lions – against Sweden in November 2011 which ultimately turned out to be Capello’s last match in charge of England.

He signed a new four-year contract at Fulham in September 2010 but just 24 hours after putting pen to paper on his new deal, he suffered a broken leg in a home match against Wolverhampton Wanderers. This would keep him out of action for over five months. He did return to action before the 2010-2011 season finished but fell out with new Fulham manager Martin Jol and would leave the Cottagers in January 2012 to join Queens Park Rangers.

He scored on his debut for the club which was a 2-1 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers and scored twice in 14 games as the club narrowly avoided relegation. He never hit the heights of his Fulham days at Loftus Road and experienced two relegations in three seasons. He did score a Goal of the Season contender against West Bromwich Albion in April 2015 and scored another play-off final winner over Derby County but by now, injuries had taken their toll.

In August 2015, he returned to Brighton & Hove Albion and scored seven times in 26 appearances before being released after Brighton missed out on promotion through the play-offs. He didn’t play any part in the campaign after March due to a hip injury and in December 2016, he decided to hang up his football boots. He scored 182 goals during his club career.

Zamora is currently pursuing business interests, including a social housing scheme with ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and West Ham United midfielder Mark Noble.

On his day, Bobby Zamora was unplayable and certainly made an impact on many of his clubs. His best Premier League spell was with Fulham and he is still fondly remembered by Brighton supporters, who came up with the chant: “When the ball hits the goal it’s not Shearer or Cole, its Zamora,” to the tune of Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore.”

Premier League Files: Jimmy Bullard

Premier League Career: Wigan Athletic (2005-2006), Fulham (2006-2009), Hull City (2009-2010)

Jimmy Bullard was one of the funniest footballers in the last 15 years. You could always see the passion he would have for the game and also, his determination to have a bit of fun whilst doing it. He figured for Wigan Athletic, Fulham and Hull City and has also had a spell in management with non-league side Leatherhead since retirement in 2012.

A West Ham United supporter as a boy, Jimmy was signed by the club in 1999 after some non-league appearances with Gravesend & Northfleet. However, he never managed to make the breakthrough at Upton Park and was given a free transfer two seasons later. He rebuilt his career at Peterborough United, scoring 11 times in 66 appearances, before being snapped up by Wigan Athletic in January 2003 for £275,000.

He helped Wigan secure promotion to the Premier League in 2005 and became an important figure in their debut season in the top-flight. Bullard scored a late winner in a 2-1 success at West Bromwich Albion in September and struck another three goals, including a goal against Arsenal. His antics became almost as common as his play on-the-pitch. In a match against Everton, he famously leapfrogged a pile of players in a goalmouth scramble, resulting in him falling on his face!

Fulham were impressed by Bullard’s performances and triggered a clause in his contract which saw the Cottagers’ pay Wigan £2.5 million for his services in May 2006. He made an instant impact, scoring goals to rescue a point at home to Bolton Wanderers and a free-kick winner to overcome Sheffield United. Sadly, he sustained a dislocated kneecap in the club’s next match away at St James’ Park. He would be on the sidelines for a minimum of nine months with cruciate knee ligament damage. The injury would ultimately keep him out of action until January 2008. A month later, he scored a brilliant free-kick to defeat Aston Villa and his joy was crystal clear. He even hugged referee Chris Foy at the full-time whistle which just showed how happy he was to be back on the football field.

Bullard’s performances in the second half of the season were a crucial part in Fulham escaping relegation on the final day. Despite starting 2008-2009 in arguably the best form of his career, negotiations over a new contract stalled and in December 2008, the west Londoners decided that Jimmy could surprisingly leave the club. A month later, he joined Hull City for a club-record fee of £5 million.

In an interview with the BBC’s Football Focus shortly after his arrival, Bullard said: “I didn’t feel I had the backing from the club, so I felt like it was time to move on. I felt like Fulham didn’t want me and it was as simple as that really. I was in talks with Fulham over a contract and I was told I’m not getting a new contract and I can leave in January.”

He made his Hull debut a week after his arrival against West Ham but sustained further knee damage in that match and this ended his season prematurely after more surgery. After a nine-month absence, he returned to the Hull squad and made an immediate contribution, scoring twice against the Hammers’ in a 3-3 draw and striking the equalising penalty in a 1-1 draw with Manchester City. He famously imitated Hull manager Phil Brown’s on-pitch team talk from the same fixture the previous season in his celebration which luckily went down well with his boss. Another knee injury was sustained in the next fixture against Aston Villa which kept him out for eight further weeks and it became clear the supporters were getting frustrated with his constant injury absences. Hull ended the season in the bottom three and were relegated to the Championship.

Jimmy was one of the club’s highest earners and with the debt piling up; he was allowed to leave that summer. However, his wage demands put many teams off, as well as his injury record. A loan move to Celtic collapsed and he stayed at Hull until January 2011, when he joined Ipswich Town on-loan. He eventually retired from football in October 2012 after a very brief spell at Milton Keynes Dons.

He moved into management in the 2016-2017 season, spending a year with Leatherhead. He won 19 of his 47 matches in charge but resigned at the end of the campaign. Since retirement, Bullard has been a regular on our TV screens, appearing in ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ in 2014. He is now one of the three main hosts on the Sky Sports Saturday morning magazine show, Soccer AM.

Memorable Matches: Fulham 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur (September 2007)

Goalscorers: Younes Kaboul 10, Dimitar Berbatov 28, Clint Dempsey 42, Gareth Bale 61, Alexei Smertin 77, Diomansy Kamara 90


Fulham: Antti Niemi, Chris Baird, Carlos Bocanegra, Dejan Stefanovic, Paul Konchesky, Steven Davis, Hameur Bouazza (David Healy 70), Alexei Smertin (Collins John 79), Simon Davies, Clint Dempsey, Diomansy Kamara

Tottenham Hotspur: Paul Robinson, Lee-Young Pyo, Pascal Chimbonda, Younes Kaboul, Ricardo Rocha, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Steed Malbranque (Michael Dawson 84), Gareth Bale, Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane (Jermain Defoe 68)

Referee: Mike Riley, Attendance: 24,007

Neither Fulham, nor Tottenham Hotspur were in sparkling form in the early weeks of the 2007-2008 season. Tottenham, heavily tipped to challenge for a finish in the top-four, had lost three of their opening four Premier League matches whilst Fulham were trying to bed in a clutch of new signings under the former Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez.

He could welcome back goalkeeper Antti Niemi to the fold. The former Southampton stopper was back after a long spell out with a wrist injury. Unfortunately, his return didn’t start well. 10 minutes in and he flapped at Gareth Bale’s corner. The ball fell to Younes Kaboul and the Frenchman, a summer arrival from Auxerre made no mistake to put the ball into the empty net.

In the 28th minute, it was 2-0 to the visitors. Fine work from Robbie Keane saw him play in his strike partner Dimitar Berbatov. Berbatov easily outpaced Dejan Stefanovic and he smashed the ball past Niemi from an improbable angle. It was the Bulgarian’s first goal of the season. Fulham were on the ropes and could have been put out of the contest completely before half-time. Jermaine Jenas had a golden opportunity but wound up giving possession away rather than playing the on-field skipper Keane in to score. It was a costly error as against the run of play, Fulham pulled one back three minutes before half-time. Former Tottenham midfielder Simon Davies swung in a corner and Clint Dempsey made the most of free space to power home.

At the start of the second half, Tottenham reasserted their authority on the contest. Berbatov forced Niemi into a smart save and ex-Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque struck a half-volley against the post with Niemi completely stranded. A third goal was surely coming and their persistence was eventually rewarded just past the hour mark. Keane’s flick-on put Bale in the clear. The young Welshman flew down the left-hand side and finished calmly beyond Niemi to score his first league goal for the club since his summer move from Southampton.

With 12 minutes left, Fulham looked to be running out of ideas but their hopes of gaining something out of the match were rekindled when Alexei Smertin’s shot deflected off Ricardo Rocha and left Paul Robinson stranded. Tottenham suddenly looked nervy and with time fast running out, they lost the lead. Diomansy Kamara’s acrobatic effort from the edge of the penalty area caught out Robinson and secured the Cottagers’ a fairly fortunate point.

Tottenham manager Martin Jol was furious afterwards. He told BBC: “We have to cut out this sort of rubbish and these mistakes and then maybe we will start winning games.”

He wouldn’t win another league match and was sacked towards the end of October. Tottenham only finished 11th but did win the League Cup under Juande Ramos that season. Fulham escaped relegation on the final day after three wins in a row at the end of the season. This point would be a huge one for them as the season progressed.

The Managers: Martin Jol

Premier League Clubs Managed: Tottenham Hotspur (2004-2007), Fulham (2011-2013)

Martin Jol’s Premier League management career was dominated completely by one city. He managed two clubs in London, managed his first game in the English top-flight in the capital and also saw his management stint in this country ended in London. His time with Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham saw him provide exciting, creative sides that pleased their supporters. Sadly, there was no silverware to follow for his good work.

His time in this country is slightly undervalued when you consider some of the good work from managers arriving in the UK following his departure as Fulham manager in November 2013. His success since in the Middle East shows that he can win top honours around the world.

First steps in the Netherlands

During his playing career, Martin played over 400 times. He turned professional in 1973 with his local professional side ADO Den Haag and won the Dutch Cup two years later. He spent one season in the Bundesliga with German giants Bayern Munich before moving back to Dutch football with FC Twente in 1979.

He was one of the few foreign imports in the English game during the 1980s, joining West Bromwich Albion in 1982 and also going onto play for Coventry City. In 1985, he returned to his homeland and a second spell with Den Haag, winning the Dutch Footballer of the Year award before deciding to quit playing in 1989.

Jol went into coaching at the start of the 1990s and his first professional management role came in 1996 with Roda JC. A year after this appointment, he guided Roda to the Dutch Cup, their first trophy for three decades. He then spent six years with the unheralded RKC Waalwijk team, transforming them from relegation battlers to regular European football challengers. His achievements were well-known in the Netherlands. Jol won Coach of the Year honours in both 2001 and 2002.

To further himself though, he needed to move away from his home country and in June 2004, he was heading back to England for his first crack at management outside of Holland.

Biding his time at Tottenham

Martin Jol initially came in as assistant manager to Jacques Santini who was leaving his post as manager of the French national team to take over at Tottenham Hotspur. Santini’s side though were dull to watch and the fans never took to him as their boss. 13 games into the season, he walked out on the club and Jol was thrust into the limelight as Tottenham’s fourth manager in 14 months.

It was quite a baptism. He lost his first three matches but a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in November 2004 started a brilliant run that saw Spurs to their best run of form since the inaugural Premier League campaign in 1992-1993. Tottenham strung a run of five successive victories together and managed an eight-game unbeaten sequence until they were beaten at home by impending champions Chelsea in January 2005. Tottenham would eventually finish ninth, missing out on a European spot by two points. Nevertheless, the foundations were in place for a fairly successful spell in north London.

This started by signing a three-year contract extension in August 2005 and the 2005-2006 campaign was going to be the club’s best in Premier League history until their fourth place finish in 2010. Tottenham sat in the top six all season and were in the coveted fourth position from early January onwards right the way through until the final day of the season. Their squad was struck down by a mysterious illness on the eve of the final match at Upton Park against West Ham United. Spurs would lose the game 2-1, allowing bitter rivals Arsenal in to snatch fourth position and the final UEFA Champions League qualification spot at the last possible moment. Despite this crushing late disappointment, it did mean European football for Tottenham for the first time since 1990 and it was the club’s highest league finish in 15 years.

An unfortunate end at The Lane

Inconsistency dogged the 2006-2007 season. High points including a first win in 16 years in the league over Chelsea and a run to the semi-finals of the League Cup. However, Tottenham were in the bottom half of the table by mid-February and out of the race for a Champions League challenge. Jol’s side did finish the campaign very strongly though, losing just once in their last 12 matches to ensure a second successive fifth place finish. On top of that, Spurs went deep in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, reaching the quarter-finals in both competitions before bowing out to eventual winners, Chelsea and Sevilla respectively.

Expectations were even higher in the summer of 2007 with £40 million being spent on new talent including Gareth Bale and Darren Bent. However, all was not well between Jol and the hierarchy at the club. Reports began to emerge that he had fallen out over transfer policy with the Director of Football, Damien Comolli. It was believed that he had signed a number of players that Jol didn’t really want. One of his transfer targets, Bulgarian Martin Petrov went to Manchester City after the Spurs boss was refused the opportunity to make a bid for him. Worse was to come for Martin.

Results were extremely poor in the opening three months of the 2007-2008 campaign. Tottenham won just one Premier League game and that was against hapless Derby County. They conceded sloppy late goals to deny themselves away wins at Craven Cottage and Anfield and when a director and the club secretary were photographed in a Spanish hotel meeting Sevilla manager Juande Ramos, Jol’s die was cast.

He was sacked during their UEFA Cup defeat at home to Getafe in October 2007.

Hamburg, Ajax and back to London

Although approached by Birmingham City a month later, Martin elected to take some time out of the game and wouldn’t return to the managerial dugout before the start of the 2008-2009 season. When he did return, it wasn’t in England either.

He gave the Bundesliga a go, managing former European champions Hamburger SV. Hamburg finished a respectable fifth in the 2008-2009 table and also reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. Unfortunately, they were dumped out of that competition by northern rivals SV Werder Bremen. He wouldn’t build on this impressive debut campaign though as the vacancy came up back in the Netherlands with Ajax.

He signed a three-year contract to manage the Amsterdam heavyweights in May 2009 and they broke a number of records in the 2009-2010 season. Ajax finished with a staggering goal difference of +86, scored 106 goals, won their final 14 games of the season and finished with 85 points. That normally would be good enough to win the Eredivisie title but they were beaten to the prize by just a single point. It was FC Twente who took the championship, under the guidance of Steve McClaren.

Jol would still bring some silverware to the club as they won the Dutch Cup, beating Feyenoord 6-1 across two matches. He would resign though in December 2010 after struggling at the start of the following campaign. Ajax were in fourth place when he left but would go on to win the title that season under his successor, Frank de Boer.

He would head back to London in June 2011, succeeding Mark Hughes as the new manager of Fulham.

A mixed bag at the Cottage

His first season back in the Premier League was a solid one. Fulham finished in ninth spot with 52 points, just one point off their record total, set by Roy Hodgson three seasons earlier. There was a 6-0 thrashing of west London rivals Queens Park Rangers, a league double over Liverpool FC and a creditable 2-2 draw with Manchester City, despite trailing 2-0 at one point. He did fall out though with star forward Bobby Zamora, who would eventually join Queens Park Rangers in January 2012.

2012-2013 was a step back though. Although Fulham finished in 12th spot, they finished the campaign very poorly, with just one win in their last seven matches which cost them a top half finish. Jol did bring Dimitar Berbatov into the club from Manchester United and it was his goals that kept them well clear of danger. The worry was though that a decline was beginning at Craven Cottage. Many of Fulham’s more experienced players were leaving, such as Danny Murphy and Clint Dempsey and the replacements were not as impressive.

It came to a head in 2013-2014 for the club. Fulham scrambled three league victories together before the end of November but apart from a 4-1 win away at Crystal Palace, they looked like a team bereft of ideas and on the verge of relegation. With every passing week, the manager’s burrowed look was getting bigger. After a second half collapse at Upton Park, which saw Fulham fail to register a single shot on target and lose 3-0 to West Ham United, Jol was sacked. He lost his final six matches in all competitions with the Cottagers. Fulham would finish the season as an ex-Premier League side.

He would get league glory though in the Middle East, guiding Al Ahly to the Egyptian Premier League title in 2015-2016. Unfortunately, he received threats on social media after the side’s failure to reach the African Champions League semi-finals. Fearing for his safety, he resigned from his post as manager after just six months in the role.

Martin Jol was a down-to-earth, commendable and good Premier League manager who always went down the attractive route. His record is fairly impressive too. It was unfortunate that sluggish starts to his final seasons with both Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham would prove to be his downfall.