It wasn’t so long ago that Jermaine Pennant was being touted as the next big thing in English football. It was his big money move from Birmingham to Liverpool that was supposed to reignite his career, this never happened and he came another transfer flop as we will soon discover.
Jermaine Pennant was signed by Arsenal as a trainee at the age of 15 for £2 million, at the time a record. Thus, expectations of the young right-winger were high. He made his debut aged 16 years and 319 days against Middlesbrough in the League Cup on 30 November 1999, making him Arsenal’s youngest-ever first team player, this record has since been surpassed by Cesc Fàbregas. He also hat-trick on his full league debut, against Southampton in May 2003.
He was apparently homesick in London and repeatedly late for training, testing the patience of manager Arsene Wenger. His performances for Arsenal were generally disappointing and he made only 26 appearances in 7 years with the Gunners, most of which wee from the subs bench. A couple of loan moves failed to materialize before Birmingham City stepped in and signed the player permanently in 2005 after a successful loan spell.
During his loan spell at Birmingham, he was arrested and convicted for drink driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance. He was sentenced to ninety days in prison. Despite this Birmingham offered him a contract and upon his release he returned to playing for Birmingham, although he had to wear an electronic tag at all times.
Despite some encouraging performances for the Blues, they were relegated to the Championship in 2006, but Pennant’s prayers were answered when Liverpool tabled an offer of £6.7million and he joined the club he supported as a boy.
The first signs were encouraging; he had a very good first season putting himself in contention for an England place, but was overlooked by Steve McLaren, much to the winger’s disappointment. He also went on to start in the 2007 Champions League Final, a game that Liverpool lost but Pennant was acknowledged to have been one of their better performers.
It seems this is the pinnacle for Pennant, the following season, inconsistency ravaged his game, and he was eventually dropped to the bench. He soon found himself way down the pecking order at Anfield as he struggled to re-find the form that served him in good stead the previous year. The same fate was to occur the following year, as he couldn’t force his way into the Liverpool first team, a loan move to Portsmouth was agreed in January 2009.
His performances for Pompey were not enough to secure him a permanent deal or to earn him a new contract with Liverpool, so he signed for Real Zaragoza in Spain on a free transfer during the summer. It is reported he is unsettled in Spain and he hasn’t really turned on the style, as such a move back to the Premier League has been touted before the end of January.
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