In the seventies and early Eighties it was North America and for a few years in the Nineties it was Japan, then came the MSL revolution and the destination for aging or forgotten footballers went full circle and America was once more the desired destination. Nowadays, with the ever increasing expansion of the global game, footballers (and managers) have a myriad of options when deciding on their retirement plan including China and our very own A-league.
In this occasional series I will be highlighting football personalities who you may have forgotten who are now plying their trade Down Under. This time however it a footballer who is neither plying his trade nor at present has anything to do with football Down Under. Instead I look at the ex-Stoke player, Jermaine Pennant:
At times in the red and white shirt Pennant was a delight watch but most of the time he could at best be described as frustrating and at worse a passenger and his stay at Stoke was probably best remembered for his numerous off the pitch problems. Sadly, for Pennant, his time at Stoke, rather than being the exception, was typical of a career which started so when he was signed by Arsenal as a fifteen year old.
Ever since that two million pound move from Notts County, Pennant’s career can be held up as the embodiment of what can happen to a talented young player who believes early on the hype which surrounds him. Repeatedly turning up late for training, a trait he never seemed to lose, Pennant found himself loaned out to a number of lesser teams before eventually leaving for Birmingham City.
Liverpool, Real Zaragoza and Stoke followed, with the same pattern of occasional moments of brilliance and more common disciplinary problems, before his first employment in Asia with India’s Pune City. Pennant did briefly return to England with Wigan Athletic but at the start of the year he signed with Singapore side Tampines Rovers to be their star player!
Now, less than a year after he signed, Pennant is once more looking for a club after he refused to accept a reduction on his 23,495 pound, weekly salary. Whilst this may be nothing compared to the vast sums being paid to some Premiership footballers it is still a lot more than most of us earn during a good portion of the year and it is a sad indictment of the amount of money in today’s game that a player like Pennant is comfortable to walk away from such a deal.
So in a departure from the usual What Happened To? I am instead asking the question What Next For the 23,495 pound man?