English youngster returns after useful spell abroad
After a disappointing World Cup for England in which many players were unable to adapt to anything other than the norm, it is refreshing to see an Englishman return after a strong period in another country.
Matt Derbyshire joined Blackburn Rovers as a seventeen-year-old after impressing whilst at local club Great Harwood Town. Derbyshire turned down the chance to play for Manchester United because he thought that his first team opportunities would be limited at Old Trafford. The striker scored ten goals in sixty-three appearances for boyhood team Blackburn, whilst also scoring ten goals in seven appearances for Wrexham, where he spent the 2005/06 season on loan.
Feeling that his chances would be limited at Rovers, with Benni McCarthy, Roque Santa Cruz and Jason Roberts in front of him in the pecking order, Derbyshire made the decision to go out on loan, with Greek giants Olympiacos the destination. On his home debut for the Greek side Derbyshire scored in extra time to secure the club’s progress to the semi-finals of the Greek Cup.
Derbyshire played a key role in the Greek Cup final in May 2009. With Olympiacos 2-0 down at half-time the striker was brought on. Derbyshire scored after three minutes of being on the pitch and, after the game had gone to 2-2, AEK Athens seemed to have scored the winner late on. With the final touch of the game, though, Derbyshire powered home a header with six minutes of injury time gone. Olympiacos went on to win the match on penalties and Derbyshire was rewarded with man of the match.
The forward moved to Olympiacos on a permanent basis in June 2009. The Greek fans had warmed to Derbyshire, nicknaming him the English Killer. The twenty-four-year-old has played fourteen times for England at under-21 level, scoring six goals, and will now be looking to help Alex McLeish’s side steer clear of relegation.
Derbyshire is one player from a list of English footballers to ply their trade abroad. A move abroad can do wonders for a player as they can learn new cultures and new ways of playing the sport, whilst also getting to grips with the style of another nation’s play. Former Liverpool midfielder Jermaine Pennant is currently playing for Spanish giants Real Zaragoza, while former Aston Villa forward Darius Vassell is currently a free agent after leaving Turkish side Ankaragucu at the end of last season.
Derbyshire passed his medical today and the Brum have an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the loan deal, which will be at the end of the season. The striker has earned the reputation of being an impact substitute but will be looking to break into the first team for Birmingham, with James McFadden, Cameron Jerome and Gary O’Connor his main foes for a place in the front-line. Derbyshire had a very good relationship with the Greek fans and will be hoping that he can maintain that at Birmingham, whilst also looking to put in some good performances in the Premier League, with half an eye on the England national team for sure.