‘WHO ARE YA?’ is a new weekly feature on EPL Talk that profiles players who have been capped for England and fallen from grace and players who never really reached their full potential, with the help of some anecdotes .Feel free to give some feedback on the article and your memories of the player. If you’ve got any ideas for players for me to do in the future just mention them in the comments box.
This player won his one and only England cap in 2002 but never lived up to his full potential.
So this week we take a look at Michael Ricketts.
Background: Ricketts started his club career at Walsall in 1996 and stayed there 4 years until 2000 scoring 15 times for the club.
In the summer of 2000 he was snapped up by Sam Allardyce at Bolton Wanderers, then in Division One (Championship), for a nominal fee of £400,000. He played a huge part in getting the Trotters promoted into the Premier League scoring 24 goals leading to promotion via the Play-Offs with a win over Preston in the Final.
He took the Premier League by storm with 15 goals from August to January including a memorable winner against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Due to this great run of form and England’s manager being the ever experimental Sven Goran-Eriksson he received a call up for England’s friendly against the Netherlands in February 2002. At the time Sam Allardyce likened him to Ruud Van Nistelrooy but unfortunately he had little impact on the game playing only 45 minutes. After this game though Ricketts was unable to score again in the same season for Bolton.
Where it all went wrong: In the January transfer window of 2003 Middlesbrough splashed out £3.5 million on the 6 foot 3 inch striker. Leaving Bolton with a record of 37 goals in 98 games Middlesbrough just wasn’t the right club for Ricketts with the striker failing to recapture his form, hitting the back of the net just 3 times. At the North-East club he developed a reputation of being a big timer and the striker said this to The Sun earlier this year in reflection of his move to Boro:
“People can say what they want but I didn’t feel like that. I just wanted a new challenge. I was disappointed when a possible move to Spurs fell through but Middlesbrough came in and was still a big opportunity for me — like Andy’s is at Liverpool.
“I suppose I was the hottest young striker around at the time but Boro had a completely different style to the way Bolton played.
“I was used to being one of the main men but at Boro they didn’t play through me.
“Then I got injured the following pre-season, did my Achilles and was out for three months. Any player will tell you how hard it is to catch up after that. I got quite depressed.
June 2004 saw a move to Championship Leeds on a free transfer for the striker. Yet again though Ricketts did not impress scoring only once for them in the League Cup against Swindon. The two years he spent at Leeds included loan spells with Stoke, Cardiff and Burnley in which he only mustered 7 goals.
Southend brought in the striker in 2006 with Ricketts playing only twice for the Essex side. At the end of the season he was released for being overweight.
Subsequent spells short term spells at Preston and Oldham were ultimately fruitless with again Ricketts’ fitness and weight hampering his chances. After a loan spell at Walsall he returned to the Bescot Stadium permanently with a move in July 2008. Ricketts didn’t do badly for the Saddlers averaging a goal every 3 games.
August 14 2009 saw a move to Ricketts’ 11th club, Tranmere Rovers. As per usual his time there did not go as planned with the striker scoring only once and having his contract terminated on the 21 January 2010.
Earlier this year Ricketts was in the news again. Not for a move to another club but due to his charge of common assault on his girlfriend that resulted in a 12 month community order and a £200 fine.
Ricketts was seen as the next big English striker in 2002 after an impressive 15 goals in the 2001-2002 season. Since that England appearance though Ricketts never found his form again and has become a Football League journeyman famed for his weight problems. However Ricketts doesn’t think the England cap was the turning point in his career with him saying this to the Sun:
“People say England was the start of the decline but I don’t agree. I was proud to play for my country and will always be grateful for it.”