Tag Archives: Middlesbrough

The Clubs: Middlesbrough

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
574 165 169 240 648 794 -146 661 14

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Mark Schwarzer 332
Stewart Downing 211
Robbie Mustoe 197
George Boateng 181
Gareth Southgate 160
Colin Cooper 159
Steve Vickers 155
Franck Queudrue 150
Curtis Fleming 146
Ugo Ehiogu 126

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Juninho 30
Hamilton Ricard 30
Mark Viduka 26
Yakubu 24
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 23
Szilard Nemeth 23
Alen Boksic 22
Brian Deane 18
Stewart Downing 18
Massimo Maccarone 18

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City 11th May 2008 2007-2008
Middlesbrough 6-1 Derby County 5th March 1997 1996-1997
Middlesbrough 5-1 Derby County 3rd November 2001 2001-2002
Middlesbrough 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd May 2003 2002-2003
Middlesbrough 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 20th January 2007 2006-2007
Middlesbrough 4-0 Coventry City 7th September 1996 1996-1997
Middlesbrough 4-0 Sheffield Wednesday 3rd October 1998 1998-1999
Middlesbrough 4-0 Derby County 13th January 2001 2000-2001
Blackburn Rovers 0-4 Middlesbrough 16th October 2004 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 23rd April 2005 2004-2005

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Arsenal 7-0 Middlesbrough 14th January 2006 2005-2006
Middlesbrough 1-6 Arsenal 24th April 1999 1998-1999
Chelsea 5-0 Middlesbrough 5th February 1996 1995-1996
Everton 5-0 Middlesbrough 17th February 1999 1998-1999
Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea 18th October 2008 2008-2009
Aston Villa 5-1 Middlesbrough 17th January 1993 1992-1993
Liverpool FC 5-1 Middlesbrough 14th December 1996 1996-1997
Arsenal 5-1 Middlesbrough 20th November 1999 1999-2000
Portsmouth 5-1 Middlesbrough 15th May 2004 2003-2004
Chelsea 4-0 Middlesbrough 3rd April 1993 1992-1993

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Lennie Lawrence 1 19th May 1994
Bryan Robson 5 6th December 2000
Terry Venables 1 12th June 2001
Steve McClaren 5 11th May 2006
Gareth Southgate 3 20th October 2009
Aitor Karanka 1 16th March 2017
Steve Agnew 1 9th June 2017

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Middlesbrough 0-0 Liverpool FC 22nd November 2003 35,100 2003-2004
Middlesbrough 2-0 Norwich City 28th December 2004 34,836 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 1-0 Newcastle United 5th March 2003 34,814 2002-2003
Middlesbrough 0-0 Leeds United 26th February 2000 34,800 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 1-1 Sunderland 6th November 1999 34,793 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 1-0 Liverpool FC 21st August 1999 34,783 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 3-4 Manchester United 10th April 2000 34,775 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur 7th May 2005 34,766 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 2-0 Liverpool FC 20th November 2004 34,751 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 1-0 Liverpool FC 9th November 2002 34,747 2002-2003

 

Intro

Middlesbrough have featured in 14 Premier League seasons and have often been an entertaining side. Their debut season was at Ayresome Park which ended with relegation but moving into The Riverside Stadium in August 1995 gave them the platform to become a regular mid-table team. A controversial relegation in 1997 did set them back but Boro bounced back quickly and remained in the elite until 2009. The fans have had the likes of Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Gazika Mendieta and Yakubu to enjoy during the Premier League Years.

 

1992-1993

Middlesbrough had won promotion in the previous season to become among the 22 founder members of the Premier League. They started well, winning four of their first seven games including a 4-1 victory over reigning champions Leeds United. A 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace just before the New Year though saw the club go into freefall from a mid-table position. They won just three matches after the turn of the year, collecting a meagre 10 points from 54. They were relegated on the penultimate weekend and finished second-bottom, five points adrift of safety.

 

1995-1996

This was a record-breaking season for Middlesbrough off-the-pitch. They moved into their new state-of-the-art Riverside Stadium and beat Chelsea in their first match at the ground in August 1995. Two months later, player-manager Bryan Robson managed to persuade the Brazilian Footballer of the Year Juninho to join the club which briefly turned the town into scenes that matched the colourful Rio carnival!

In late October, Middlesbrough peaked in fourth place after beating Queens Park Rangers 1-0 but they couldn’t keep up with their early tempo. An eight-game losing sequence saw Robson’s side plunge down the table but they still finished a creditable 12th, five points above safety.

 

1996-1997

In the summer of 1996, Middlesbrough recruited heavily as they signed Brazilian midfielder Emerson and Champions League winning-forward Fabrizio Ravanelli. Ravanelli sparkled instantly with a hat-trick on his debut against Liverpool FC in a 3-3 draw. Boro lost just twice in the opening two months and sat fourth but a 12-game winless sequence followed which would be very damaging for the club’s survival prospects.

In deep relegation trouble before Christmas, Middlesbrough failed to fulfil a fixture away at Blackburn Rovers due to a severe injury and illness crisis. Blackburn were incensed at the postponement at such short notice and the FA sided with them. In January, Middlesbrough were docked three points and fell seven points adrift of safety.

They went on a decent run afterwards but a fixtures pile-up saw them run out of steam in the closing weeks, despite going unbeaten in their last four matches. A 1-1 draw on the final day against Leeds United condemned them to relegation, despite herculean efforts from Juninho. Had those three points not been docked, they would have survived.

Two cup final defeats added to the agony for the supporters in what was a rollercoaster season that ended with a very nasty bump.

 

1998-1999

After one season away, Middlesbrough returned to the Premier League in 1998-1999 and achieved their highest top-flight finish in over 20 years. Bryan Robson’s side started very well and even enjoyed a 3-2 victory at Old Trafford over Manchester United in December which meant they were sitting in fourth place on Christmas Day. They lost just three games at The Riverside Stadium all season and claimed a final finishing position of ninth, drawing 15 of their 38 matches.

 

1999-2000

Although Middlesbrough fell three positions in the final standings compared to 1998-1999, they achieved one more point to finish with a new Premier League high of 52 points. Three wins from their first four games had Boro into the dizzy heights of second spot. They couldn’t quite maintain that position and even fell as low as 16th after a 4-0 loss on Valentine’s Day 2000 to Aston Villa.

A strong run of just two losses from their final 12 matches took the Teesiders clear of any relegation danger. For the second successive season, Hamilton Ricard was the top goalscorer for the club, scoring 12 times.

 

2000-2001

The 2000-2001 season was a frustrating one for Bryan Robson, Steve Gibson and everyone connected with Middlesbrough. Eight defeats in nine games saw Boro hit bottom spot in the table in mid-December and Gibson decided to act. He brought in former England boss Terry Venables to joint-manage the team alongside Robson. It worked as Middlesbrough recovered to finish 14th, despite just four home victories all season. A 3-0 away victory over Arsenal was the highlight of the campaign – a result that handed the 2000-2001 championship to Manchester United.

 

2001-2002

This was Steve McClaren’s first season in-charge of Middlesbrough after he left his post as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United. Things didn’t start well as the club lost their first four Premier League matches. However, a 2-0 home victory over West Ham United started a much better run of form. Just two defeats in their next 11 games took the Teesiders away from danger. McClaren’s side beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on their way to a final finishing position of 12th.

 

2002-2003

In early October, Middlesbrough peaked in third place in the table. Early victories included a 3-0 triumph at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. The summer arrivals of Geremi, George Boateng and Massimo Maccarone had made the team harder to beat. However, a 1-0 loss at Charlton started a dreadful run of form away from home, which saw them lose eight successive away matches without scoring.

A 5-2 home defeat to Aston Villa in late January saw McClaren go on a deadline day splurge, signing Michael Ricketts from Bolton Wanderers and the Derby County pair of Malcolm Christie and Chris Riggott. Middlesbrough eventually finished in 11th and beat Manchester United and Liverpool FC during the campaign. However, it was a slightly disappointing result given their bright start.

 

2003-2004

Middlesbrough made an appalling start to the 2003-2004 campaign, losing four of their first five matches and collecting just one point in that period. It looked like a patchy season ahead but an unbeaten eight-game sequence in the winter months took them away from danger. For the second successive season, Boro finished in 11th place so it was another mediocre league campaign.

It was a historic season though for the club. For the first time in their 128-year history, they claimed silverware, beating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the League Cup final.

 

2004-2005

With Middlesbrough about to embark on a European campaign, there was plenty of experienced arrivals with Ray Parlour, Mark Viduka and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink among the summer acquisitions. The club enjoyed their best-ever Premier League season, finishing in seventh position.

They found themselves up against Manchester City on the final day of the season with a point required to secure European qualification via the league. In stoppage-time, City won a penalty but Mark Schwarzer saved the spot-kick from Robbie Fowler to seal the point required that earned the club another season in the UEFA Cup.

 

2005-2006

After five years and 250 matches’ in-charge in all competitions, Steve McClaren left his position as manager at the end of the season to fill the vacancy as boss of the England national team. His final game saw the team compete in their first-ever European final, losing 4-0 in the UEFA Cup final to Spanish club Sevilla.

The league season was a major disappointment, finishing in a lowly 14th position, hurt by a succession of injuries and deep runs in three cup competitions. There were home victories against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea but also defeats to the three newly-promoted clubs.

 

2006-2007

Club captain Gareth Southgate was appointed as McClaren’s successor for his first job in club management. His first home match in-charge was a memorable 2-1 victory over Chelsea whilst one of their most impressive displays came in January as top-four contenders Bolton Wanderers were well-beaten 5-1. However, poor away form hampered the ability for the club to escape the reaches of mid-table. Boro achieved just two away successes and finished 12th, eight points off the European positions and also eight points clear of any relegation danger.

 

2007-2008

The 2007-2008 season saw Middlesbrough play in their 4000th league game when they played Reading in March. They broke their transfer record in January to sign Afonso Alves for £12 million. Middlesbrough finished in 13th position and unrest seemed to be around the camp with three permanent captains appointed during the season. George Boateng, Julio Arca and Emanuel Pogatetz all took it in turns to wear the armband in a fairly unremarkable campaign for results.

 

2008-2009

Middlesbrough started the 2008-2009 season with their first opening day victory in eight years as they defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Two wins from their first three games hinted at a more positive season in the Premier League. In mid-November, the club were sitting in the mid-table positions but a 2-1 away victory at Aston Villa was their last success in 14 games. A shock 2-0 win over title challengers Liverpool FC stopped that sequence at the end of February. However, relegation was looking more likely as the season developed and just one more victory was achieved with the club’s 11-year Premier League tenure ending on the final day of the season.

 

2016-2017

After several seasons in the doldrums in the Championship, Middlesbrough managed to win promotion back to the top-flight in 2016. However, it would turn out to be a very tricky and ultimately, unsuccessful return to the Premier League. Despite having a strong defensive record, the attacking line-up was blunted by a lack of creativity. Middlesbrough scored just 27 goals in 38 matches which was the fewest of any of the 20 clubs in the campaign.

A run of 10 games without a win saw Aitor Karanka sacked as manager in early March after a 2-0 defeat to Stoke. Steve Agnew took interim charge until the end of the season but he couldn’t revive their fortunes. Relegation back to the Championship was confirmed by a 3-0 loss to eventual champions Chelsea on 8th May 2017.

Advertisements

Premier League Files: Christian Ziege

Premier League Career: Middlesbrough (1999-2000), Liverpool FC (2000-2001), Tottenham Hotspur (2001-2004)

German international Christian Ziege enjoyed a glorious career, winning plenty of honours at a young age and only a freakish injury whilst at Tottenham Hotspur cut short a pretty impressive spell in the Premier League.

A left wing-back by trade, Ziege started his playing career with the mighty Bayern Munich. He made his Bundesliga debut in 1990 as an 18-year-old and spent the next seven years winning three trophies with the Bavarians. These were two Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Cup in 1996. Ziege showed his instincts in attack too, achieving double figures for goals in two campaigns with his 12 goals in 29 matches from the 1994-1995 season being his best individual season, actually ending as Bayern’s top scorer.

Capped by Germany for the first time in 1993, he missed out narrowly on the 1994 World Cup squad but was a prominent part of their success in the 1996 European Championships in England. Ziege scored in Germany’s opening group win over the Czech Republic and was one of the six successful Germans to score in the semi-final shootout success against the hosts at Wembley Stadium.

Ziege was a man in-demand by the summer of 1997. He received offers from Barcelona, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Newcastle United but with Serie A still experiencing a boom of getting many top players, Ziege elected to move to AC Milan. He spent two seasons at The San Siro but faced stiff competition from Milan legend Paolo Maldini in his preferred position. Ziege did win the Serie A championship in 1999 but struggled to settle in the fashionable Italian city and chose to leave for the Premier League that summer.

His first port of call was Middlesbrough. He impressed hugely in his only season on Teeside, scoring six goals in 29 appearances and winning a recall to the German international setup for their doomed EURO 2000 title defence. After returning from their group stage exit, Liverpool FC made a £5.5 million bid to acquire Ziege’s services. This matched a clause in his contract which meant he had to talk to the Merseysiders. Middlesbrough insisted they’d received offers in the region of £8 million for the player but Christian would ultimately move to Anfield. The FA later found Liverpool guilty of making an illegal approach and in March 2002, fined the club £20,000 and the player £10,000.

Liverpool had an amazing 2000-2001 season, winning three cup competitions and earning UEFA Champions League football. However, the improving form of Jamie Carragher meant Ziege was not a guaranteed starter and he admitted in a FourFourTwo interview that for playing purposes, his move to Liverpool had been a mistake. He said: “Unfortunately I had some problems, problems with the manager [Gerard Houllier] and I still don’t know what his problem was with me. He never talked to me. I realised it was a bad move because I really enjoyed my time playing for Boro.”

Ziege played in the League Cup final victory over Birmingham City, scoring in the shootout but didn’t even make the bench for their sensational 5-4 UEFA Cup final success against Alaves in Dortmund. With a World Cup finals looming in Asia, he needed to leave to retain his national team appeal. He moved to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2001 and rediscovered his form from his Middlesbrough days. Ziege scored five times in the Premier League, including a diving header against Manchester United. He linked up well with the likes of Gus Poyet, Simon Davies and Teddy Sheringham as Tottenham reached the League Cup final. Ziege scored in the showpiece but this time, it was a losing cause as Glenn Hoddle’s side lost 2-1 to Blackburn Rovers. His form was enough for him to feature prominently at the 2002 World Cup, reaching the final as Germany lost 2-0 to a Ronaldo-inspired Brazil in Yokohama.

Throughout the years, he developed a reputation as a fearsome direct set-piece taker. This was demonstrated in the North London Derby of December 2002 at White Hart Lane. Less than two weeks later, his career was nearly cut short after two dramatic matches in a few days.

First, despite setting up two goals in Tottenham’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City, he was sent off for two bookable offences in the closing stages. On Boxing Day, he suffered a similar fate in the 2-2 home draw with Charlton Athletic. However, it was the aftermath that left more than his footballing life in the balance.

In the FourFourTwo interview, he revealed: “I was close to dying. I was playing for Tottenham against Charlton and I got a knock on my thigh. It wasn’t a big kick but my leg swelled up really badly after the match. I was in massive, massive pain. They operated on me, and I can’t remember too much about the next few days because they put me on a lot of medication to help relieve the pain. They told me if we’d left it another 30 or 45 minutes, they would have had to cut off the leg as otherwise I would have died.”

Ziege left Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2004 and returned to Germany to finish his career with Borussia Mönchengladbach. A persistent ankle injury restricted him to 13 appearances only and in October 2005, he announced his retirement.

Christian has gone into coaching since. He has had spells as manager of DSC Arminia Bielefeld and SpVgg Unterhaching, worked as a coach with the German international junior sides and moved to coach in Thailand in December 2017. However, he departed by mutual consent after just two games.

Premier League Rewind: 28th-30th September 2002

Results: Leeds United 1-4 Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Southampton, Charlton Athletic 1-3 Manchester United, Chelsea 2-3 West Ham United, Everton 2-0 Fulham, Manchester City 0-3 Liverpool FC, Sunderland 1-0 Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur 0-3 Middlesbrough, Birmingham City 0-2 Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Blackburn Rovers

Still undefeated at the start of the season, champions Arsenal were looking in irresistible form at the end of September 2002. The Gunners travelled to Elland Road to face Leeds United, aiming at more records and this performance demonstrated the growing gulfing gap that was emerging between the two sides.

Kanu’s opening goal after nine minutes ensured Arsenal had now scored in 47 successive top-flight matches, breaking a record that had stood for 71 years that had been held by Chesterfield. Kolo Toure’s header and a trademark Thierry Henry strike made it 3-0 just after half-time. Although Harry Kewell did pull a late consolation back for the hosts, Kanu’s second of the afternoon ensured a 4-1 win for Arsenal who blew Leeds apart. Terry Venables’ side had lost four of their first eight matches, whilst Arsenal maintained their two-point lead at the top.

Like the men from north London, Liverpool FC were still unbeaten too and they responded later that afternoon with their own masterclass away from home. Manchester City had no answer for the Reds and in particular, Michael Owen. Owen had made an indifferent start to the 2002-2003 campaign, scoring just once and that was from the penalty spot against Newcastle United. However, he rediscovered his scoring touch on Liverpool’s last league visit to Maine Road. Owen scored a hat-trick in Liverpool’s 3-0 victory.

In total, there were seven away victories across the weekend, making a complete mockery of the term ‘home advantage.’ One of the most impressive performances came from Middlesbrough who ran out convincing 3-0 winners at White Hart Lane over Tottenham Hotspur. Massimo Maccarone, Geremi and Joseph Desire-Job all scored and Boro had quietly asserted themselves into the Premier League’s top three. Having topped the table themselves in August, Tottenham had dropped to sixth and lost three of their last four matches. It looked set to be another inconsistent season for Glenn Hoddle and his troops.

Although they hadn’t found their peak form yet, Manchester United were just six points off the early pacesetters. They recovered from a Claus Jensen blockbuster to defeat Charlton Athletic 3-1 at The Valley and record their first win away from Old Trafford in the season. Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Ruud van Nistelrooy were all on-target for the visitors.

Chelsea dropped to fifth after losing their first Premier League match of the season. Once again, Paolo Di Canio was the man who caused them problems. Di Canio had taken a real liking to playing Chelsea throughout his career and he was at it again at Stamford Bridge, spearheading West Ham United to a 3-2 victory and their first win of the season. The maverick Italian scored twice, including the winner of September’s Goal of the Month but it wasn’t enough to lift the Hammers off the foot of the Premier League table.

Southampton remained in the bottom three after eight games after conceding a 90th minute equaliser to Youri Djorkaeff of Bolton Wanderers in a 1-1 draw between the sides at The Reebok Stadium. Lastly, Sunderland achieved a rare victory as David Bellion’s 70th minute goal defeated Aston Villa 1-0 at The Stadium of Light. The win would turn out to be Peter Reid’s final home match as manager. He parted company with the club 10 days later.

What else happened in September 2002?

  • The first anniversary of the September 11th 2001 attacks is marked by many services and memorials across the United States.
  • The body of the abducted British schoolgirl Amanda Dowler is found in remote woodland near Hampshire.
  • An earthquake is felt in Dudley which causes minor structural damage but no injuries. It is the biggest earthquake to strike the UK in 12 years, registering 4.7 on the Richter scale.
  • Switzerland becomes a full member of the United Nations.
  • Serena Williams and Pete Sampras win the singles’ events at the US Open. In Sampras’ case, his win over Andre Agassi is his 14th Grand Slam – the last of his phenomenal career.
  • Team Europe claims back The Ryder Cup from the United States at The Belfry in the first tournament of the 21st century. It had been postponed in 2001 due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • ‘Top of the Pops’ airs its 2000th edition.

Shock Results: Arsenal 0-3 Middlesbrough (April 2001)

Goalscorers: Edu 34 OG, Silvinho 38 OG, Hamilton Ricard 58

Teams:

Arsenal: David Seaman, Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, Silvinho, Edu (Sylvain Wiltord 46), Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg (Ray Parlour 75), Robert Pires, Kanu, Thierry Henry

Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Ugo Ehiogu, Jason Gavin, Dean Gordon, Steve Vickers, Paul Okon, Paul Ince, Christian Karembeu, Alen Boksic (Robbie Mustoe 89), Hamilton Ricard (Phil Stamp 79), Dean Windass

Referee: Paul Durkin, Attendance: 37,879

Arsenal went into this match in April 2001 knowing they were in the position of needing to win to stop Manchester United being crowned Premier League champions. Arsene Wenger’s side had little hope of catching the dominant Red Devils but a victory over struggling Middlesbrough would delay the inevitable for another week at least.

Boro turned up at Highbury firmly in a relegation battle. They were scrapping with Coventry City, Derby County and Manchester City, trying to protect their top-flight status. This was predicted to be nothing more than a routine victory for the home side but with a bit of luck and help, the visitors were about to upset the formbook in spectacular fashion.

In the televised lunchtime kick-off, Manchester United had defeated Coventry 4-2 so Arsenal needed to respond. Naturally, they made the faster start and could have been ahead inside the opening 10 minutes. Thierry Henry’s through ball split the Teesiders defensive line but Mark Schwarzer managed to thwart Kanu’s effort. Henry then sent a curling effort from distance just fractionally over the crossbar as Wenger’s side looked to stamp their authority. However, they were about to experience a nightmare four-minute spell that left any mathematical hopes they had of the championship in tatters.

In the 34th minute, Dean Windass made the most of a timid clearance from Arsenal captain Tony Adams. The forward tried his luck with what seemed like an ambitious drive from distance. Fortune favoured the ex-Bradford man as his shot came off the heel of Gunners defensive midfielder Edu and completely deceived David Seaman to give Middlesbrough the lead.

Everyone inside Highbury got the inkling this would be Middlesbrough’s day with their second goal which incredibly was another own goal. This time, it was fellow Brazilian Silvinho who was the culprit. Dean Gordon made one of his trademark runs from left-back. His cross into the box should have been cleared comfortably by Silvinho. However, he made a complete hash of a simple clearance and diverted the ball beyond Seaman’s sprawling dive. His face spoke volumes afterwards. Arsenal needed a miracle to stop the title being settled quicker than expected.

Despite having loads of possession, the hosts were lacking the clinical cutting edge. Kanu headed wide from close-range and trying to make up for his earlier error, Silvinho bent a free-kick just past Schwarzer’s post. If there was luck around Middlesbrough’s first two goals, there was nothing fortunate about the third. Colombian forward Hamilton Ricard linked up brilliantly with Alen Boksic and Ricard produced the telling finish past Seaman to put the result beyond doubt.

It was a rare Middlesbrough victory at Highbury and produced the platform for them to survive under the temporary guidance of ex-England boss Terry Venables. Arsenal finished runners-up for the third successive season but their trophy famine extended to three years.

Premier League Rewind: 7th-8th November 1998

Results: Aston Villa 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Coventry City, Charlton Athletic 0-0 Leicester City, Liverpool FC 1-2 Derby County, Nottingham Forest 0-1 Wimbledon, Southampton 3-3 Middlesbrough, Arsenal 1-0 Everton, Leeds United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester United 0-0 Newcastle United, West Ham United 1-1 Chelsea

The 7th-8th November 1998 weekend would be one of shattering blows for an Italian striker, the end of ‘The Boot Room’ regime at a leading Premier League club and a wonderful debut for another forward in the Midlands.

The big news going into this round of games was Aston Villa’s acquisition of the ex-Manchester United forward Dion Dublin. Villa had pipped Blackburn Rovers to the signature of Dublin, who had decided to call time on his four-year spell as the leading marksman at Coventry City.

Just 48 hours after arriving at Villa Park, Dublin made his Aston Villa debut as the league leaders welcomed Tottenham Hotspur. With virtually his first opportunity, he scored after 31 minutes. Four minutes later, he made it 2-0 with another composed finish and when Stan Collymore made it 3-0 two minutes into the second half, John Gregory’s side were going to be staying as the table toppers. Despite two late goals from Darren Anderton and Ramon Vega, Villa held on for a 3-2 victory which looked more comfortable than the actual scoreline suggested. Gregory’s side were still unbeaten after 11 matches and finished the weekend two points clear. For new Tottenham manager George Graham, it was just one win from his first four matches in the post and Spurs sat a below-par 14th in the table.

Only three places above them were Liverpool FC. The Reds had won just one of their last seven matches and that run got worse when Derby County won 2-1 at Anfield. Early goals inside the first 30 minutes from Kevin Harper and Paulo Wanchope spearheaded Derby to an amazing victory. The pressure was growing on Liverpool’s wisdom of appointing joint-managers. It was Gerard Houllier and Roy Evans in the dugout together and the latter was taking most of the flak. Less than a week later, Evans had parted company with the club and Houllier would take sole charge of the team. The final link to ‘The Boot Room’ which had dominated Anfield for over 30 years had been severed.

Liverpool were some way off the pace which was being set by Villa. Among the chasing pack were Chelsea and they extended their unbeaten run to nine matches after drawing 1-1 at West Ham United. Celestine Babayaro scored the equaliser to preserve this record. However, this match would be overshadowed by a horrific injury sustained by Pierluigi Casiraghi. The Italian had scored just once and his 10th appearance for the Londoners would be his last. An unfortunate collision in the penalty area with West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop led to a serious cruciate knee ligament injury. Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli admitted his season was over but was optimistic Casiraghi could recover. In truth, he would never play professional football again, retiring in 2002 after 10 unsuccessful operations.

Defending champions Arsenal moved above Manchester United into second place. Nicolas Anelka’s early goal after six minutes was enough to defeat Everton 1-0 at Highbury whilst the Red Devils were held to a goalless draw by a stubborn Newcastle United at Old Trafford.

At the wrong end of the table, Southampton remained bottom after an enthralling 3-3 draw with Middlesbrough. The visitors had both Phil Stamp and Robbie Mustoe sent off by referee Paul Alcock and required a 90th minute equaliser from defender Gianluca Festa to rescue a point. Coventry City and Blackburn Rovers swapped places with the Sky Blues’ 2-1 win in Lancashire moving them out of the relegation zone at Blackburn’s expense.

What else happened in November 1998?

  • The United States House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against American president Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal.
  • The European Court of Human Rights is instituted.
  • The United Kingdom formally abolishes the death penalty.
  • Former professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura is elected Governor of Minnesota.
  • Daimler-Benz completes a merger with Chrysler Corporation to form Daimler-Chrysler.
  • A new subscription movie channel from Channel 4, FilmFour is launched.
  • Mika Hakkinen wins the Japanese Grand Prix to become Formula One World Champion for the first time in his career.

Premier League Files: Dean Gordon

Premier League Career: Crystal Palace (1992-1993, 1994-1995, 1997-1998), Middlesbrough (1998-2002)

Left-back Dean Gordon is a perfect example of a journeyman footballer who represented a host of different clubs during his career. In his 18-year stint as a footballer, he played for no fewer than 20 teams with spells in England, Cyprus and even New Zealand. To be fair to Dean, a lot of this movement came after his prime days in the game which were spent in the top two divisions with Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough.

Born in Croydon, Gordon made the breakthrough professionally at his local club, Crystal Palace. Starting as a trainee, he turned professional in July 1991 and would eventually make over 200 appearances for the Eagles across seven league campaigns. Gordon was part of the Palace team that won the First Division championship in 1994 and won promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs three years later. Unfortunately, all three Premier League campaigns he took part in ended in relegation from the top-flight. Strong in the tackle, Gordon loved to fly forward from the left-flank and also had a tendency to score some spectacular goals from distance. One of his best came in his penultimate match as a Palace player at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium – although it ended in a 5-2 defeat.

Following Palace’s third Premier League relegation, he left in July 1998 and joined Middlesbrough for £900,000. In his first season on Teeside, he started every single Premier League match, as Boro finished ninth in the table. He was one of the goalscorers too in December 1998 when Bryan Robson’s team went to Old Trafford and beat Manchester United 3-2.

His next three seasons at The Riverside Stadium were a real struggle though and he was limited to a meagre 20 further games with his final appearance coming in a 1-0 victory over local rivals Sunderland in January 2002. He was released at the end of that campaign by Steve McClaren and joined Coventry City.

It was from here when Gordon’s constant club changing happened. Some of his previous sides include Grimsby Town, Reading, APOEL Nicosia, Torquay United and Auckland City. Following his retirement in 2009 after a spell in non-league football, Dean now lives in Sunderland and runs Futsal Sunderland, providing competitions and other Futsal events for all ages.

Premier League Files: Hamilton Ricard

Premier League Career: Middlesbrough (1998-2002)

Hamilton Ricard has become one of football’s globetrotters. His career has taken him across the world and he has played football in no fewer than nine different countries, including spells in Bulgaria, Japan, Ecuador, Cyprus and China.

Ricard first came to be noted for some impressive displays in the Colombian international setup, notably in the 1997 Copa America. He was the top scorer in the Colombia main club league in the same year with 36 goals. In March 1998, Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson took a chance on him, signing him for £2 million. Ricard initially struggled to adapt to the physicality of English football and it took a while for fans to warm to him on Teeside.

However, he won them over with some impressive individual displays on Boro’s return to the Premier League in the 1998-1999 campaign. Ricard was the club’s top scorer with 15 goals. Highlights included an impressive brace in a 3-0 away win at Tottenham Hotspur in September 1998 and scoring inside 30 seconds of a 3-1 victory over Wimbledon in April 1999. That would remain the quickest goal scored by a Middlesbrough player at The Riverside Stadium for the next 11 years.

He amassed double figures again in the 1999-2000 campaign as Robson’s side comfortably established themselves as a mid-table team in the top-flight. Hamilton enjoyed playing at White Hart Lane. He added another two goals to his total on the north London ground in April 2000 as Middlesbrough won 3-2.

The 2000-2001 season was not his finest as the competition for striking places increased. The likes of Noel Whelan and Alen Boksic were now at the club and Ricard lost his automatic starting spot. There were still flashes of brilliance though. In January 2001, he scored one of the Goals of the Season in an FA Cup third round tie away at Valley Parade against Bradford City. Three months later, he scored the third goal to seal a surprising 3-0 victory over Arsenal which handed the championship title to Manchester United.

Steve McClaren’s arrival in the summer of 2001 saw Ricard fall further out of the first-team picture and he moved to CSKA Sofia on a free transfer. He scored 33 goals in 115 appearances during his four years at Middlesbrough and was crowned as the club’s Player of the Year in 1999.

Life has been tough since leaving England. In December 2002, he was involved in a car accident that killed a 17-year-old passenger and five years later, was sentenced to a prison sentence for the incident which he hasn’t served yet. He last played for Colombian club Cortulua in 2013.

Premier League Files: Julio Arca

Premier League Career: Sunderland (2000-2003), (2005-2006), Middlesbrough (2006-2009)

He has just turned 37 and is still playing at semi-professional level for South Shields. The Argentine wing-back Julio Arca became a favourite in the north east, representing Sunderland and Middlesbrough and became an icon for both teams.

Although he operated as a wing-back, Arca was most definitely an attack-minded player and that was his main trait. Sunderland signed him in July 2000 from Argentinos Juniors on a five-year contract. Peter Reid did well to attract Arca to Wearside. Leeds United and Newcastle United were among teams interested in signing Julio but the attractive style of Reid’s teams turned out to be the deciding factor.

He’d played as a left-back for his club in Argentina but Reid converted him into a position on the left-hand side of midfield and he made an instant impact, scoring on his debut against West Ham United at The Stadium of Light. He added another two goals in his first Premier League season as Sunderland finished an excellent seventh in the table for the second successive season.

One of Arca’s main strengths was his ability to pick out a range of passes for his teammates and they missed this in 2001-2002. A series of troublesome injuries restricted his time playing and when he was on-the-field; his form of the previous campaign was evidently missing. An injury in February ended his second season on Wearside prematurely.

When Reid was sacked in October 2002, Julio slipped out of the first-team picture under the guidance of Howard Wilkinson and the Black Cats were relegated. However, he became a more prominent figure back in the Championship, earning spots in the division’s Team of the Year for two successive seasons. A key figure of Mick McCarthy’s plans, Arca was part of the squad that went up back to the Premier League as champions in 2005.

He scored a brilliantly-placed free-kick against Middlesbrough in September 2005 that helped them to their first win back in the top-flight and McCarthy’s first-ever as a Premier League manager. There wasn’t any further success though and after Sunderland’s relegation, he left the club. He stayed in the north east, joining Middlesbrough in July 2006 for £1.75 million, replacing Franck Queudrue who had moved to Fulham in the summer. He became the first signing made by new permanent Boro boss Gareth Southgate as the Teesiders beat Spanish club Espanyol to his signature.

He made his Middlesbrough debut on the opening day at Reading but broke his foot in the first half and was replaced at half-time. Out for two months, he became an important player on his return, playing in an unfamiliar central midfield role for Southgate and starring. He scored his first goal for the club against Charlton Athletic in December 2006. Arca would remain with the club for seven seasons, sticking with them even after their demise from the top-flight in 2009. He was released in 2013 and retired from professional football.

However, his love for the game continues. He has been playing for semi-professional side South Shields and also done some coaching with the youngsters back at Sunderland.

The Managers: Steve McClaren

Premier League Clubs Managed: Middlesbrough (2001-2006), Newcastle United (2015-2016)

Steve McClaren is hoping to follow in the footsteps of managers like David Moyes, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce, all considered being past their sell-by-date as top-flight bosses but who have managed to return to the Premier League dugout in 2017-2018.

McClaren is currently out of work but is hoping this will change. His most recent role was as a coaching consultant with Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv. He guided Middlesbrough to a UEFA Cup final in 2006 and took FC Twente to a surprising Dutch title four years later. However, his dreadful reign as England manager seems to have scarred his reputation with both chairman and the media for good.

A loyal assistant

His playing days were nothing special to write home about. He played for Hull City, Derby County, Lincoln City, Bristol City and Oxford United before injury forced him to retire in 1992.

After retiring from playing, McClaren began his coaching career as a youth and reserve team coach at Oxford United, before moving back to Derby County in 1995, where he served as assistant manager to Jim Smith. Together, they won promotion to the Premier League and they established the Rams as a consistent top 10 side in the Premier League.

In early 1999, Manchester United were looking for a new assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson as his long-time no.2 Brian Kidd had elected to take the managerial post at Blackburn Rovers. McClaren got the role and his first game next to Ferguson saw the Red Devils win 8-1 away at Nottingham Forest. It was a wonderful first few months in the role with United winning the treble, consisting of the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. Another two Premier League titles followed in 2000 and 2001 and he was one of the first to embrace the new technologies of using sports psychologists and video analysis to enhance player performances.

In 2000, he combined his Manchester United role with a position on the coaching staff with the England international team. McClaren served as assistant to Sven-Goran Eriksson from November 2002 all the way until his departure after the 2006 World Cup finals.

Boro breakthrough

In the summer of 2001, Steve elected to move into management, realising his chances of succeeding Ferguson as Manchester United manager as slim. Southampton and West Ham United both approached him but he turned both clubs down and was appointed Middlesbrough manager after impressing owner Steve Gibson in an interview.

His first two seasons at The Riverside Stadium are solid, if unspectacular. Middlesbrough finish 12th and 11th in the table respectively and make the FA Cup semi-finals in 2002 before losing at Old Trafford to Arsenal.

The big breakthrough came in the 2003-2004 season. Despite another mid-table finish in the Premier League, Middlesbrough claimed silverware for the first time in their 128-year history. They knocked out Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal before defeating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the League Cup final.

This meant European football would follow in 2004-2005 and McClaren was able to attract the likes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mark Viduka and Michael Reiziger to the club in the close season. Middlesbrough made the last-16 of the UEFA Cup before bowing out to Sporting Lisbon, who will go on to make the final. There is progress in the league too. Boro finish in seventh position which is their best finish in the top-flight in 30 years.

His most dramatic season at the helm was his last one on Teeside. Middlesbrough struggled to 14th position in the league with some disastrous results; including a 7-0 beating at Highbury away to Arsenal. However, they achieved far better success in the cup competitions. They reached the FA Cup semi-finals before losing to West Ham United and enjoy some stunning nights in the UEFA Cup. Both FC Basel and FCSB of Romania hold four-goal leads during the two-legged ties and will be eliminated in dramatic conclusions to these matches. For the first time in their history, Middlesbrough reached a European final but they are no match for Sevilla in the showpiece event, losing 4-0.

He left at the end of the season with the biggest job in international management ready for him.

The England nightmare

When Luiz Felipe Scolari elected to turn down the position of becoming England manager, McClaren got the job in May 2006, edging out Sam Allardyce to the position. Many England fans were unconvinced by the FA’s choice and that was further outlined when he decided to leave national treasure David Beckham out of his early international plans. John Terry was appointed captain.

Qualification for EURO 2008 was meant to be straightforward but the first signs of problems occurred when England were held to a goalless draw at home by FYR Macedonia. Days later, the Three Lions lost 2-0 to Croatia and another defeat in Moscow to Russia left England’s qualification firmly in the balance. He didn’t help his relationship with the press after walking out of a press conference following an unconvincing 3-0 victory over Andorra, saying: “Gentlemen, if you want to write whatever you want to write, you can write it because that is all I am going to say. Thank you.”

Victory at Wembley Stadium over Croatia in their final match would guarantee qualification. Anything else would likely lead to elimination as on the same night, Russia were playing no-hopers Andorra. It is a night Steve McClaren will probably never be able to erase from his memory.

First, he was photographed on a filthy, wet evening in an umbrella to protect him from the elements. This earned him the nickname; “The Wally with the Brolly!” Secondly, he dropped experienced goalkeeper Paul Robinson for rookie Scott Carson and this backfired when Carson allowed an early Niko Kranjcar shot to spill through his fingers and into the net. Lastly, England lost the game 3-2, despite recovering a two-goal deficit in the second half. Russia beat Andorra, so England failed to qualify for a major tournament for the first time since the 1994 World Cup.

A day later, McClaren was sacked. His tenure is the second shortest in history of managing the England national team. His reputation and creditability had been completely destroyed.

Rebuilding himself

Steve moved abroad and took a job in Dutch football with FC Twente. He spent two seasons with them, making them a strong force in the domestic game. In 2010, Twente saw off challenges from perennial title winners Ajax and PSV Eindhoven to become Dutch champions by just one point. He became the first Englishman to win a league title abroad since Sir Bobby Robson had won the Portuguese league title with FC Porto in 1996.

He admitted this was his best achievement in football, saying: “Winning the Carling Cup with Middlesbrough was special but this is pretty much right up at the top of anything I’ve ever done. To win a championship in a foreign country with foreign coaches, I think it’s made me stronger.”

He left after his achievement and tried his luck in the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg; it didn’t work out as well as he hoped. Poor results saw him dismissed by the 2009 German champions in February 2011. After an unsuccessful spell at Nottingham Forest, McClaren returned to FC Twente for a second time in January 2012. However, he couldn’t rekindle the spirit of his first stint there and resigned a year later.

Following a stint in-charge of Derby County, McClaren returned to the Premier League in 2015; nine years after he left Middlesbrough. He succeeded John Carver as manager of Newcastle United. He was on the backfoot from the outset. Newcastle went eight games without a win at the start of the season and although there were brilliant victories in December 2015 over Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur, it always looked like he was fighting a losing battle on Tyneside.

With the club in the bottom three, a damaging 3-1 home defeat to AFC Bournemouth in March 2016 left him firmly in the firing line with the Geordie supporters. He was sacked five days after this loss to the Cherries.

He had a brief second spell as Derby County manager and is aiming at returning to management in the near future. Whilst he waits, he is currently working as a pundit for the EFL television coverage on Sky Sports. Hopefully, he won’t react as dramatically as he did when working for Sky after England’s shock loss to Iceland at EURO 2016!

Great Goals: Dimitri Payet – WEST HAM UNITED vs. Middlesbrough (October 2016)

Dimitri Payet left West Ham United acrimoniously in January 2017 to return to French football with Marseille. His departure after refusing to play for the club left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Hammers supporters who had idolised him during his 18 months with the Londoners.

It was because of goals like this that got supporters drooling at what he could bring to the football pitch. West Ham were struggling to find any form at their new home, The London Stadium and were trailing 1-0 to newly-promoted Middlesbrough.

Payet collected possession and showed good strength to hold off a weak challenge from Antonio Barragan. He then got the better of Marten de Roon and with no other options emerging, went into the penalty area, running across the box as Boro players committed themselves. Another three players were seen off, before the Frenchman calmly slotted the ball into the net past Victor Valdes.

It ensured the points were shared but in reality, this solo goal deserved to win all three points. It was a fine moment from Payet at a time where the home side looked unlikely to find a way through.

Memorable Matches: Middlesbrough 4-3 Bolton Wanderers (March 2006)

Goalscorers: Stelios Giannakopoulos 3, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 8 PEN, 47, Mark Viduka 30, Jay-Jay Okocha 58, Radhi Jaidi 81, Stuart Parnaby 90

Teams:

Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Andrew Davies, Ugo Ehiogu, Stuart Parnaby, Emanuel Pogatetz, Franck Queudrue, George Boateng, James Morrison (Lee Cattermole 62), Fabio Rochemback (Stewart Downing 83), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Yakubu 73), Mark Viduka

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Tal Ben-Haim, Ricardo Gardner, Radhi Jaidi, Joey O’Brien, Gary Speed (Abdoulaye Faye 85), Kevin Nolan (Hidetoshi Nakata 72), Jay-Jay Okocha, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Kevin Davies, Henrik Pedersen (Jared Borgetti 53)

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 25,971

On Mothers’ Day 2006, Middlesbrough faced Bolton Wanderers in what turned out to be another pulsating afternoon at The Riverside Stadium. Boro had already featured in exciting encounters with Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic and the home crowd were going to be treated to seven goals, last-minute drama and plenty of errors from both teams.

It was reported that both Steve McClaren and Sam Allardyce were in the running to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson as England manager after the 2006 World Cup finals, so there was a bit more incentive in this one for the two managers. Bolton were enjoying the better season domestically and took the lead after only three minutes. From a Jussi Jaaskelainen goal-kick, Middlesbrough had at least two opportunities to clear but didn’t and Stelios Giannakopoulos punished them to give the visitors the early lead.

Middlesbrough recovered quickly and by the half-hour mark, they were leading. First, Joey O’Brien was spotted by Howard Webb handling the ball from a free-kick and corrected awarded a penalty. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s spot-kick was not his finest but he just squeezed it underneath Jaaskelainen to find the equaliser. Then, Mark Viduka was played onside and latched onto Hasselbaink’s knockdown to earn Middlesbrough a half-time lead.

Both defences were looking ropey and the pattern continued into the second half. Middlesbrough went 3-1 ahead on 47 minutes. Hasselbaink latched onto a long pass and got to the ball before the onrushing Jaaskelainen. He dinked his effort over the Finnish goalkeeper to put clear daylight between the sides. It was also Middlesbrough’s 500th goal in the Premier League.

That should have finished Bolton off but they produced a stirring comeback. Five minutes after his arrival from the bench, Jared Borgetti was fouled by Ugo Ehiogu in the penalty area. Webb awarded his second penalty of the afternoon. Jay-Jay Okocha’s penalty was poor and Mark Schwarzer guessed right to deny him but only momentarily. The Nigerian was sharpest to the rebound to score and bring Allardyce’s side back into the match. Nine minutes from time, they levelled proceedings. Okocha’s cross found an unmarked Radhi Jaidi and the Tunisian centre-back made no mistake with his header to beat Schwarzer.

Despite it being 3-3, there was a sense that one side would snatch all three points and it was Middlesbrough who ended up on the right part of the scoreline. Substitute Yakubu put in a decisive ball into the danger area and defender Stuart Parnaby was in the right place to make the contact required. Jaaskelainen was beaten and so were Bolton Wanderers. McClaren also beat Allardyce to the England vacancy by the end of the season but Bolton did finish six places higher in the final table.

Premier League Files: Yakubu

Premier League Career: Portsmouth (2003-2005), Middlesbrough (2005-2007), Everton (2007-2010), Blackburn Rovers (2011-2012)

Known as “The Yak,” Yakubu is the finest Nigerian forward to have played in the Premier League. He enjoyed fruitful goalscoring spells with Portsmouth and Middlesbrough and was the star player in Blackburn Rovers dreadful 2011-2012 Premier League campaign which ended with relegation to the Championship.

He ended with 95 Premier League goals. Only Didier Drogba has scored more as an African player in the Premier League and was a fans’ favourite at all of the clubs he represented. At the age of 35, he decided to call it a day and retired in November 2017.

A real powerhouse of a striker, Yakubu first came to the notice of the English public with his performances in the UEFA Champions League for Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. In 2002, he scored a hat-trick against Olympiacos aged just 19 years and 306 days. He is one of only three teenagers, alongside Wayne Rooney and Raul to have scored a hat-trick in the Champions League. In the same year, he also scored a penalty in a 3-0 group stage win over an already qualified Manchester United.

Harry Redknapp took interest in his scoring exploits and signed Yakubu on-loan for Portsmouth in January 2003. He scored seven times in 14 matches to help Pompey achieve promotion to the Premier League. His loan stint became a permanent move when the south coast club paid Maccabi Haifa £4 million for his services that summer.

He was ready for the Premier League and his goals were vital in 2003-2004 to Portsmouth avoiding relegation. 16 times Yakubu found the back of the net, finishing joint-sixth in the race for the Golden Boot. Among his highlights were scoring the club’s first-ever away goal at Premier League level against Manchester City, a winner in a critical South Coast Derby at home to Southampton in March and four goals in a 5-1 thumping of League Cup winners Middlesbrough on the final day of the season.

He added another 13 goals in 2004-2005 and is still Portsmouth’s highest Premier League goalscorer with 28 – nine clear of Benjani in that list. As he continued to find the back of the net, other clubs in the top-flight were keen to add him to their attacking options. He joined Middlesbrough soon after the season concluded for £7.5 million – the highest fee for a Nigerian player in Premier League history. In two seasons at Middlesbrough, he scored 24 goals. In 2005-2006, he scored home goals in fantastic victories over Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea and was part of the Boro squad that made the 2006 UEFA Cup final.

After the first two games of the 2007-2008 campaign, Yakubu transferred to Everton for £11.25 million and showed his ambition by taking the squad number 22. This was a goal target he’d set for the season in all competition and he only fell just one short of reaching this number too. He scored 11 minutes into his debut in an away win at Bolton and grabbed a hat-trick in a 3-0 home triumph over Fulham in December 2007. He became the first Everton player since Peter Beardsley to score 20+ goals in all competitions.

At West Bromwich Albion in August 2008, Yakubu scored the winner which was his 100th goal in English football. It was the highlight of his 2008-2009 campaign which was ruined by rupturing his Achilles tendon in a 1-0 away win over Tottenham Hotspur in November 2008. That ended his season prematurely and kept him out of the first-team picture for 11 months.

As other attacking options came into the club such as Louis Saha and Brazilian Jo, Yakubu fell down the pecking order on his return. He scored in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Chelsea and netted a winner over Stoke City but his time on Merseyside was winding down towards a conclusion.

After a loan spell at Championship club Leicester City during the second half of the 2010-2011 campaign, “The Yak” moved to Blackburn Rovers on transfer deadline day in August 2011. On his home debut, he scored twice to help Blackburn to a memorable 4-3 victory over Arsenal which was their first win of the season. In December 2011, he scored four goals in a game again, helping Rovers to a 4-2 home success over Swansea City and he added two more to his tally in a shock 3-2 away win at reigning champions Manchester United on New Years’ Eve. He finished with his best-ever goalscoring return in a Premier League season – 17 goals in 30 appearances. However, Blackburn dropped out of the top-flight on the final Monday of the season and the Nigerian stated he didn’t want to play in the Championship and therefore, had to leave the club.

For Nigeria, he scored 21 goals in 57 appearances for The Super Eagles and is the third-highest scorer in their international history. He was part of a Nigeria squad that took part in four African Cup of Nations tournaments and also featured at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. He scored a penalty in the 2-2 draw with South Korea during the group stages but he is best remembered for missing an open goal earlier in the match as Nigeria crashed out of the competition.

After leaving Blackburn, Yakubu moved to China where he played for three seasons with Guangzhou R&F. He also spent a year in Turkey with Kayserispor and returned to English football for brief spells at Reading and Coventry City. He left the Sky Blues in April 2017 after not featuring in the plans of manager Mark Robins and seven months later, elected to stop playing altogether.

When at Blackburn, fans had a chant for him: “Feed the Yak and he will score!” He pretty much did that for all of his Premier League clubs and was a natural goalscorer throughout his career.