Tag Archives: Portsmouth

Premier League Files: Ricardo Fuller

Premier League Career: Portsmouth (2004-2005), Stoke City (2008-2012)

Jamaican forward Ricardo Fuller enjoyed a successful spell in the Premier League with Stoke City. After failing to make the grade at Portsmouth, Fuller was one of the leading stars of the early Stoke years in the Premier League under Tony Pulis.

He began his English journey with Crystal Palace in February 2001, signing after impressing Eagles’ management on trial. Unfortunately, he struggled to settle in the capital and with knee problems too, it restricted him to just eight league appearances as Palace narrowly avoided relegation to Division Two. He was released and returned to his homeland with an unpredictable future.

He tried his fortunes in Scotland next, as Hearts signed him for the 2001-2002 season from Jamaican side Tivoli Gardens. He scored eight times in 27 appearances and finished as the club’s joint top scorer for the campaign. Unfortunately for the Jambos’ fans, the Edinburgh club couldn’t afford to sign Fuller on a permanent basis. So, he went back to English football, with Preston North End swooping in to sign Fuller permanently. Arguably, his time with Preston was probably the most prolific of his career. He scored 30 times in two seasons and it would have been far more had it not been for a bad knee ligament injury he sustained in December 2002. In June 2004, Fuller decided it was time to try his luck in the Premier League, so handed in a transfer request.

His persistent knee problems in English football so far meant there were few suitors for Fuller’s services, despite his instincts infront of goal. Only Leeds United and Portsmouth displayed interest and the former had just dropped out of the top-flight. Ricardo failed medicals with both teams but Harry Redknapp maintained an interest and eventually, agreed a fee with Preston to sign the player in August 2004. He scored on his debut against Crystal Palace but his impact was limited. Redknapp left Portsmouth two months later and he fell down the pecking order under Alain Perrin’s stewardship. His goal against Palace was the only one he struck in Portsmouth colours. After another failed medical, this time at Sunderland in the summer of 2005, he eventually moved to Pompey’s bitter south coast rivals Southampton, to reunite with Redknapp who had controversially moved onto St Mary’s after his exit from Fratton Park.

His stay at Southampton was not the greatest. Again, Redknapp left shortly after signing him to incredibly return to Portsmouth. The fans struggled to accept him in their colours because of his Pompey connections and there was a general feel that Fuller’s commitment to the club wasn’t always 100% evident. He went on-loan to Ipswich Town and was eventually moved to Stoke on transfer deadline day in August 2006. Whilst Preston gave Ricardo his best scoring days, Stoke would be his longest and strongest period of his footballing career.

If Southampton fans didn’t enjoy him, Stoke supporters loved him. Fuller scored 26 goals in his first two seasons to help the Potters’ reach the promise land of the Premier League. He won the club’s Goal of the Season award in 2007-2008 for a solo effort against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Despite his popularity, Fuller was no stranger to trouble either. He received two red cards in his debut Stoke season and was also sent off for violent conduct against West Ham United when he slapped his teammate Andy Griffin in the face!

These transgressions apart, Tony Pulis seemed to always get the best out of Fuller. He scored some brilliant individual goals, including efforts against Aston Villa in August 2008 and West Ham United in March 2010 that won the club’s Goal of the Season awards. Fuller also scored Stoke’s first-ever Premier League goal, although this came in a defeat to Bolton Wanderers.

Injury unfortunately meant he missed out on the club’s FA Cup final appearance in 2011 and another red card away at Chelsea a year later didn’t go down well with Pulis. Fuller had stamped on Branislav Ivanovic and the manager called him ‘ridiculous.’ With Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones now at the club as the preferred partnership, Fuller was no longer an automatic pick when fit and Stoke decided to release him at the end of the 2011-2012 campaign.

That would be his final Premier League hurrah. He retired in May 2016 after spells in the Football League with Charlton Athletic, Blackpool, Millwall and Oldham Athletic. In the international spectrum, he played 73 times for Jamaica in a career that spanned an incredible 16 years.

Ricardo Fuller was a tempestuous figure but always could produce magical moments from nowhere and Stoke fans certainly enjoyed his combative and abrasive style of play in their Premier League story.

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Premier League Files: Shaka Hislop

Premier League Career: Newcastle United (1995-1998), West Ham United (1998-2002) (2005-2006), Portsmouth (2003-2005)

Shaka Hislop spent the best part of a decade in the Premier League and was a fine shot-stopper and an all-round strong goalkeeper. He had to see off competition from many goalkeeper rivals at all of his clubs and often prevailed too against the challenges. Hislop was part of the Newcastle United squad that finished runners-up to Manchester United in back-to-back campaigns during the mid-90s.

Hislop was a tall goalkeeper and this is why he was thrust into goal during his schoolboy days, despite wanting to play as a centre-forward. Shortly after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University in the United States, Hislop was signing professional forms with Reading. The Berkshire club came very close to a Premier League spot whilst Shaka kept goal at Elm Park but narrowly missed out; losing 4-3 to Bolton Wanderers in the 1995 First Division play-off final. He became a fans’ favourite though and after a slightly unconvincing first few months, he grew in stature and was voted Player of the Year by his colleagues twice.

Reading’s near-miss in 1995 meant a lot of their players moved on and Hislop was no different. He joined Newcastle United for £1.5 million. He immediately took the number one goalkeeping jersey off former regular Pavel Srnicek and kept clean sheets in three of his first four matches. An injury though away to Chelsea in December saw Srnicek thrust back into duty and even though Shaka regained fitness by the season’s conclusion, Kevin Keegan stuck with the Czech in-goal.

1996-1997 was almost a roles reversal. It was Srnicek who started the season between the posts but a number of high-profile mistakes, including against Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers saw him dropped in favour of Hislop. Newcastle’s 7-1 demolition of Tottenham Hotspur in December 1996 was only his second league start of that season. Yet, he stayed in goal through Kenny Dalglish’s early tenure as the Magpies’ beat Arsenal and Liverpool FC on the final day to second spot in the table and therefore earned qualification for the UEFA Champions League. Dalglish brought Shay Given into the club in the summer of 1997 and after a frustrating season playing second fiddle to the new arrival, Hislop left Tyneside on a free transfer in 1998 for pastures new at West Ham United.

His time at West Ham under Harry Redknapp was excellent and probably produced the best form of his career. Hislop won the club’s “Hammer of the Year” in his very first season and a stunning save from Chris Armstrong’s header at White Hart Lane in 1999 was one of 10 nominations for the Premier League’s Save of the Decade at the 10 Seasons awards. A broken leg in February 2000 stalled his career but he continued to produce strong performances on his return. In the summer of 2001, new Hammers’ manager Glenn Roeder snapped up David James from Aston Villa and it looked like Hislop’s time at Upton Park was over. However, James tore knee ligaments whilst on England duty in August, so Hislop would make another 12 appearances before David was ready to return in December 2001. Hislop would move to Portsmouth in the summer of 2002.

It was a drop down a division but he was reunited with Redknapp and was named in the First Division’s Team of the Year as Pompey won the title to win promotion to the Premier League. Hislop would hold down the goalkeeper’s position for Portsmouth’s first two Premier League campaigns, despite competition from the likes of Jamie Ashdown and Konstantinos Chalkias. He was released in June 2005 and rejoined West Ham United for one final Premier League season, featuring 27 times in all competitions and keeping seven clean sheets. He would also save a penalty from Sami Hyypia in the FA Cup final shootout but it wasn’t enough as Liverpool FC beat the Londoners on spot-kicks after their epic Cardiff final.

There was one final huge accomplishment for Hislop and that was to play in the World Cup finals. Trinidad & Tobago’s shock qualification for the tournament in Germany in 2006 meant he would represent his nation at the world’s festival of football. When regular first-choice keeper Kelvin Jack suffered a calf injury in the warm-up before their first match against Sweden, Hislop was called up to play and kept a clean sheet against the likes of Henrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Dortmund. In total, Shaka would play 26 times for the Twin Island nation, captaining them five times.

A back injury suffered whilst playing in the MLS would curtail his career. Hislop retired in August 2007. Since retirement, he has gone into the media industry, working mainly as a commentator for ESPN and has also written weekly blogs on the MLS for the Guardian website.

Often underrated throughout his career, Shaka Hislop was a calming and reliable presence between the sticks for all of the Premier League sides he figured for.

Premier League Files: Arjan de Zeeuw

Premier League Career: Barnsley (1997-1998), Portsmouth (2003-2005), Wigan Athletic (2005-2007)

He was stopping attackers throughout his Premier League career. Now Arjan de Zeeuw is attempting to stop criminals in his new profession. After retiring from the game in 2009, the Dutchman decided to return to his homeland and not to coach or manage either. He is working as an investigative detective, attempting to crackdown on drugs and human trafficking incidents in the Netherlands.

In contrast to today’s modern day footballers, de Zeeuw turned professional at the more mature age of 22. That was because he was doing a University degree in medical science which shows his passion for his new career. Back in the 1990s and 2000s though, his job was to restrict the number of goals that were going into the back of the net. In 1995, he moved to England, joining Barnsley for a fee of £250,000 and he scored his first goal in the country during a 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town in December.

De Zeeuw became a vital player during the Tykes’ most successful chapter in their footballing history, inspiring them to promotion to the Premier League in 1997. The defender made an impressive step-up to the leading level of English football even if his team were the leakiest defence that season. Barnsley were relegated after their debut season and it seemed like de Zeeuw would leave the club. He turned down a new contract and Leicester City were poised to snap him up as a replacement for Steve Walsh. However, new Barnsley manager John Hendrie managed to persuade Arjan to sign a new one-year deal and try to inspire them back to the top-flight. Barnsley didn’t mount a serious challenge for promotion though and de Zeeuw did eventually leave Oakwell in 1999 for Wigan Athletic.

He became a colossus for Wigan too and won the club’s Player of the Year award for back-to-back campaigns in 2001 and 2002. With his contract running down at Wigan, Harry Redknapp was quick to convince him to move to Portsmouth in the summer of 2002. It was an inspired decision. De Zeeuw’s graft and guile was significant in Portsmouth having the best defensive record on their way to the First Division title in 2002-2003.

Voted Portsmouth’s Player of the Year as they survived their debut season in a creditable 13th position, he was given the captain’s armband by Redknapp in the summer of 2004, succeeding Teddy Sheringham who was heading to join West Ham United. 2004-2005 was de Zeeuw’s best goalscoring season. He scored in three Portsmouth victories, including the winner at Bolton in November 2004. This was the first match in charge for Velimir Zajec, who had succeeded Redknapp days earlier.

Now in the latter days of his career, Arjan wanted to play first-team football regularly but new Pompey manager Alain Perrin refused this request. They fell out and consequently, de Zeeuw was more than happy to rejoin Wigan Athletic for a second spell, and therefore, embark on their maiden adventure in the Premier League.

Again, he had an important role for a newly-promoted side. His performances even won praise from government. Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair went on the BBC’s magazine show Football Focus in November 2005 and said this of de Zeeuw: “He’s really strong, never gives up. I could do with him at the whips’ office!”

After Wigan staved off relegation on the final day of the 2006-2007 season, de Zeeuw was released by the club and was offered a job by Roberto Martinez to join his coaching staff at Swansea City. He decided that he still wanted to play and turned the role down, electing to sign a one-year deal with Coventry City. He left a year later and retired in 2009.

Part of de Zeeuw’s new role sees him specialising in forensics. He still finds occasional time to play football and has even captained the Netherlands national police team.

Premier League Rewind: 16th-18th December 2006

Results: Charlton Athletic 0-3 Liverpool FC, Arsenal 2-2 Portsmouth, Newcastle United 2-1 Watford, Reading 1-2 Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic 0-1 Sheffield United, Aston Villa 0-1 Bolton Wanderers, Everton 2-3 Chelsea, Manchester City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United 1-0 Manchester United, Fulham 2-1 Middlesbrough

The Christmas programme in 2006 was about to get underway and already, the 2006-2007 title race looked to be a straight shootout between Manchester United and Chelsea. Going into the 16th-18th December weekend, it was the Red Devils who had a five-point advantage. By the end of the weekend, Jose Mourinho’s champions had whittled the lead down after a dramatic Sunday afternoon involving the title contenders.

The Blues’ kicked off first on Merseyside and were given a very tough game by David Moyes and his Everton side. Everton were only 10th going into the match but just four points off the coveted UEFA Champions League qualifying positions and they led Chelsea twice in this match. In fact, Chelsea trailed 2-1 going into the last 10 minutes before amazing goals from Frank Lampard and then, another long-range special by Didier Drogba steered the Londoners home to a nervy and exciting 3-2 victory.

Later that afternoon, Manchester United travelled to Upton Park where West Ham United were welcoming their new manager. Alan Curbishley had been appointed a few days earlier, replacing Alan Pardew who had been sacked following a 4-0 defeat at Bolton eight days earlier. West Ham went into the weekend in the bottom three and desperate for a victory. They collected three much-needed points as Nigel Reo-Coker scored the only goal of the match and gave Curbishley a winning start. The gap between the top two was now two points.

Arsenal and Portsmouth were holding the other two Champions League qualification spots at the start of the weekend and they met each other at the Emirates Stadium. Pompey were flying and when Matt Taylor scored a looping volley, they were 2-0 up and looking set to become the first Premier League team to win at Arsenal’s new home. Arsene Wenger’s frustrations got the better of him and he was sent from the touchline but he will have been pleased to see his team’s battling qualities. Emmanuel Adebayor and skipper Gilberto Silva scored to ensure the points were shared.

Their draw allowed Liverpool FC to cash in and take third spot. Liverpool kicked off in the Saturday lunchtime game at second-bottom Charlton Athletic and it was one of the most one-sided away games in Premier League history. Liverpool had 24 attempts on-goal against Les Reed’s gutless side but only had a Xabi Alonso third-minute penalty to their name, squandering a host of opportunities. Luckily, Charlton were so bad, it didn’t matter. Craig Bellamy and Steven Gerrard did find the back of the net in the last 10 minutes to ensure the score had a fairer reflection given the visitors’ dominance. Reed lasted just one more abject match before being sacked as Charlton manager.

Elsewhere, Bolton climbed into fifth spot after Gary Speed’s penalty beat Aston Villa at Villa Park. Blackburn Rovers came from behind to pick up a valuable 2-1 victory away to Reading with David Bentley scoring the pick of the goals. Middlesbrough’s 2-1 defeat at home specialists Fulham on the Monday Night Football meant Gareth Southgate’s side slipped to 17th and just outside the bottom three on goal difference.

What else happened in December 2006?

  • Leona Lewis wins the X-Factor, becoming the first female winner of the ITV talent show.
  • Forklift driver Steve Wright is charged with the murders of five women in Ipswich between the 30th October and 10th December. He is sentenced to life imprisonment in February 2008.
  • Aged 93, Gerald Ford dies after years battling ill health. He was the 38th President of the United States, serving in office from August 1974 to January 1977.
  • Actress Wendy Richard leaves EastEnders after her character Pauline Fowler dies on Christmas Day. She had been in Albert Square since the very first episode in 1985.
  • Equestrian Zara Phillips follows in her mother’s footsteps by becoming BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2006.
  • 2,300 jobs are lost when the Ryton car factory closes in Warwickshire and production of the Peugeot 206 is moved to Slovakia.
  • An oil pipeline explodes on Boxing Day in Lagos, Nigeria, killing at least 200 people.

Great Goals: Patrik Berger – Charlton Athletic vs. PORTSMOUTH (August 2004)

This early season encounter between Charlton Athletic and Portsmouth produced a spectacular effort from the experienced and skilful Czech player Patrik Berger.

Berger had the ability to produce the spectacular and he demonstrated this at The Valley. From a David Unsworth free-kick, he received possession from the defender, spun around ex-Liverpool FC teammate Danny Murphy and launched an unstoppable volley that looped over Dean Kiely who stood absolutely no chance.

Charlton might have won the game 2-1 but Berger’s goal was the moment of this match, without a doubt.

Premier League Files: Steve Stone

Premier League Career: Nottingham Forest (1992-1993), (1994-1997), (1998-1999), Aston Villa (1999-2002), Portsmouth (2003-2005)

Injuries were part of Steve Stone’s football career but when he managed to stay clear of fitness battles, he proved to everyone what a decent footballer he was. His best spell came in the 1995-1996 season with Nottingham Forest.

Stone scored a series of excellent goals during this campaign including a winner at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur and a stunning equaliser at home to Aston Villa.

His performances with his club were recognised by Terry Venables who handed the midfielder his international bow in October 1995 in a goalless draw with Norway in Oslo. A month later, Stone came off the bench to score in a 3-1 friendly win over Switzerland and also found the back of the net at Wembley in a draw against Portugal. He made nine appearances for the Three Lions’ and was part of the Euro 96 squad that reached the semi-finals on home soil.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t force his way into Glenn Hoddle’s plans on an international scale and that was down to injury. During his career at Forest, he suffered three broken legs including one in pre-season of 1996 which meant he missed the club’s entire 1996-1997 season as they were relegated to Division One.

Stone recovered and although he missed an absolute sitter in an away match against Reading in the First Division, he played an integral role in Dave Bassett’s team that returned to the Premier League at the first attempt. Sadly, relegation swiftly followed the following season and after making 229 appearances for the club, Stone was sold for £5.5 million to Aston Villa in the summer of 1999.

He became a vital player for John Gregory and figured frequently during his tenure including an appearance in the 2000 FA Cup Final; the last cup final to be played underneath the famed Twin Towers. When Gregory departed in January 2002, Stone fell out of favour with Graham Taylor and was transferred to Portsmouth.

He returned to the Premier League under Harry Redknapp’s stewardship in 2003 and even scored a winning goal against Manchester United in April 2004 that helped Pompey achieve survival in their maiden Premier League season. Stone was released in 2005 by Alain Perrin and he finished his career at Leeds United, retiring in December 2006 after further injury issues.

Stone moved into coaching and worked with the reserves and first-team at Newcastle United from 2010-2015. He was let go by the club after their near-miss with relegation in 2014-2015 and now spends the majority of his time between England and Dubai.

Iconic Moments: A Fratton thriller (September 2007)

On the face of it, Portsmouth vs. Reading in September 2007 didn’t sound like a very exciting game to the neutral. However, these sides put on a real thriller at Fratton Park. They still hold the record for the most goals scored in a Premier League match of 11.

There were nine different scorers in the match. The exception was Benjani. Portsmouth’s forward, who couldn’t find the back of the net in his early period with the club, hit the jackpot. The Zimbabwean scored a hat-trick although the goalkeeping from Marcus Hahnemann was not the best on the day.

For the record, the other scorers were Stephen Hunt, Dave Kitson, Hermann Hreidarsson, Niko Kranjcar, Shane Long, Sulley Muntari from the penalty spot and two own goals by Ivar Ingimarsson and Sol Campbell. Portsmouth won the game 7-4 and David James saved a penalty from Nicky Shorey.

Reading boss Steve Coppell tried to put a positive spin on events afterwards, commenting: “It’s difficult to analyse a match like that and if you try you will be there a very long time…we scored four goals away from home and had a chance for another with a penalty. We played a full part in the game – I don’t think many teams will come here this season and score four.” 

Portsmouth would record their best Premier League finish of eighth and won the FA Cup at the end of the season. Reading were relegated on the final day of the campaign.

Whilst the defending by both teams was horrendous, this still goes down as an unforgettable contest in the Premier League archives.