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Longest Serving Player 2007: Blackburn Rovers
"These departures leave American goalkeeper Brad Friedel as the player with the lengthiest continuous service at Ewood" In summer 2005 Squarefootball looked at the longest serving player with each of the Premiership clubs. Now we revisit the subject to find out what has changed and who has moved on.
Two summers ago when the article was complied, Garry Flitcroft was still on the books at Ewood Park. The tough tacking midfielder had been a fixture in the Rovers squad since 1996; he wasn’t a part of the Premiership winning side but arrived when the club were still title holders in March 1996.
The ex-Man City man made over 250 appearances at the club, which could have been more if injury hadn’t intervened. He left in January 2006 for a short spell with Sheffield United.
Another player desperately unlucky with injury was second in seniority to Flitcroft in 2005. Matt Jansen has battled back from the dreadful injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident in 2002. The striker came from Crystal Palace for £4 million at time when Rovers were big players in the market.
Unfortunately he never regained the sharpness he had before the accident and he moved to local rivals Bolton in January 2006. It didn’t work out for him though and he was released before last season.
These departures leave American goalkeeper Brad Friedel as the player with the lengthiest continuous service at Ewood. He’s been performing with consistency and no little brilliance since November 2000 and now has well over 300 games in all competitions.
It’s strange to think now that he struggled to get games at Liverpool and was on the point of being denied a work permit to play in the Premiership because he couldn’t always dislodge Kasey Keller from the US national side. Now he’s one of the league’s fixtures, respected at every venue.
His time at Blackburn doesn’t go back as far as one of his colleagues though. David Dunn returned to the club from Birmingham in January this year. Dunn was a brilliant product of the junior system who signed pro terms as far back as 1997.
Because of a falling out with Graeme Souness, the local man from Great Harwood was allowed to go to the West Midlands in 2003 but injury wrecked his time at St Andrews. Blackburn took something of a gamble to bring him back but if he can get on the park enough, they have a high quality addition to the team.
Friedel and Dunn were both a part of the Blackburn side that pocketed the club’s last major trophy in the 2002 Worthington Cup Final at Cardiff. Spurs were beaten 2-1 and the unlucky Jansen was one of the Rovers scorers- current Ewood boss Mark Hughes was also on the park that day having arrived at the club a week before Freidel.
One of Graeme Souness more inspired signings is ranked three in longevity at Ewood Park. Turkish international midfielder Tugay completed six years with the club just last month and despite reaching 35, he’s still able to do a job for the team. Lucas Neill had also been around since 2001 before his move to West Ham midway through 2006/07.
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