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Whatever Happened to Michael Ricketts? (Who Are Ya)

‘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.”

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  1. Tim Parker

    January 14, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Im an Englishman whos been living in South America ,mostly Bolivia, for the last 6 years,now im starting an agency to bring British players over to play in the Bolivian national league and the surrounding countries.We feel its an excellent oppurtunity for young and older players who havent had there contracts renewed with British clubs, also for unemployed players who havent been able to find a club,people like Michael Ricketts who might welcome the chance and new challenge..Since ive been living in Bolivia ive seen the league grow to as strong as its ever been,with good crowds and very competetive wages.It currently has pros from all over the continent playing here,Brasilians,Argentines,Uruguians,Chileans to name a few.After contacting and speaking to various coaches some have shown an interest in trying to bring some British players over.Theve spoken of how the British spirit and style could combine well with the South American.Theres also the chance to play in one of the 3 continent wide cup competitions,including the Copa de Liberatores which is competed amongst the best 38 club sides on the continent, Bolivias top 2 sides enter.This year Santos and Flamengo of Brasil will be comming to Bolivia among others in the Copa de Libs.The wages in Bolivia at present for pro footballers are the highest theve ever been, ranging between 400 pound-1200pound a week.Both amounts are a massive wage here because the average working wage for Bolivians is around 120pound a month,because of this the cost of living is one of the lowest in the Americas.Our service will include the finding of clubs,all translations and translating as required,taking care of accomadation and all relevent papers including visas,and basic support in any way needed.If you feel this is something that might interest players seeking clubs please forward our contact details to whoever you think appropriate.We would also welcome any sort of advice from the FA.yours thankfully Tim Parker email tel:Bol. 0059146447195 the UK is 4 hours in front.

  2. PaulfromMiami

    December 31, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    England destroys young players like no other country. They put the hopes of the country on a promising young player’s shoulders. And he fails, they crucify him.
    Dont get me wrong, it is a great footballing country but still…

  3. Stephen Allen

    December 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Really good read. Coming from a Newcastle fan, you will be able to do a write up about Xisco in a couple of years!

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