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Bolton Wanderers vs Southend United: Played For Both Clubs - Michael Ricketts

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A look at the career of former footballer Michael Ricketts

Michael Ricketts

Ahead of this weekend's game, here is a look at the career of former Wanderer and Shrimper, Michael Ricketts.

Michael Ricketts, born 4th December 1978 (Emile Heskey is nearly a year older and played 48 times for Bolton in the last two years), began his career with Walsall in 1996. Ricketts made his Walsall debut in a 1-1 home draw against Rotherham United on 17th August 1996, coming on as a substitute.

Initially starting off as a midfielder, Ricketts was eventually converted into a striker, and scored eleven goals for Walsall in the 1999/2000 season. This form caught the attention of Bolton Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce, who was on the lookout for a new striker after the departure of Eidur Gudjohnsen to Chelsea.

Ricketts joined Bolton in July 2000 for £400,000. In four years at Bescot, Ricketts managed to score fifteen goals in ninety games.

Playing alongside Dean Holdsworth and Ian Marshall, Ricketts hit the ground running as a Wanderer. In his debut season, Ricketts scored 24 goals in all competitions, including one in the 3-0 win against Preston North End 2001 Division One Play-Off Final, the win that sealed Wanderers' return to the Premier League.

Ricketts continued his scintillating form into his first Premier League season. The striker scored three times as Bolton started with wins against Leicester City, Middlesbrough and Liverpool (5-0, 1-0 and 2-1).

By the end of January 2002, Michael Ricketts had scored 15 goals in all competitions, including goals in draws against Arsenal and Chelsea, as well as a famous winner against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

His stock couldn't have been higher. Amid apparent interest from Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, Ricketts was awarded a new contract, and then England came calling.

There's no doubting Ricketts had earned his chance with the England team. He even had a glowing reference from Nat Lofthouse, Mr Bolton Wanderers himself. The Lion Of Vienna stated:

"I've seen him score all those goals and he's earned his chance. Having been a midfield player, he reads the game quite well. Whatever people say, he has a great chance of playing in the World Cup Finals."

Ricketts started for England against The Netherlands on the 13th February 2002. Playing alongside the likes of Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham, this was Ricketts' chance to show the world he had what it took to become a regular in the England team. That didn't happen.

After an anonymous forty five minutes, Ricketts was substituted. Fellow debutant Darius Vassell stole the headlines with a late equaliser, and went on to play twenty-two times for England. Michael Ricketts wouldn't play for England again.

Ricketts' form for Bolton nosedived. He failed to score again in the 2001/2002 season, prompting the striker to be dropped from the team, causing a fall out between Ricketts and the club.

In the 2002/2003 season, Michael Ricketts managed seven goals in twenty-three games.

On the 31st January 2003, Michael Ricketts moved to Middlesbrough for £3.5 million. In two and a half years at The Reebok, Ricketts played 112 games, scoring 46 goals. On the move, Big Sam stated:

"His decline has been based on a lot of false promises by other people. It affected him and affected us.

They told him what he could get and where he could get it, what other clubs might do for him. That has taken his focus away from what should have been his only aim — scoring goals for this football club.

If he'd carried on as he was going, we'd have benefited more financially and Michael would have benefited because, with respect to Boro, a bigger club would have taken him."

It didn't work out for Ricketts at Middlesbrough. Despite winning the League Cup in 2004, coincidentally against Bolton (f****** Bolo Zenden), form and fitness meant the striker only managed to score four goals in thirty-nine games.

Eighteen months after leaving Bolton, Ricketts joined Championship Leeds United on a free transfer.

Having failed to impress at Elland Road, loan spells at Stoke City, Cardiff City and Burnley followed.

Ricketts then joined this weekends opponents, Southend United, on a free transfer in June 2006. However, after only two substitute appearances, the two year deal that Ricketts had signed was terminated, with Southend citing fitness and weight issues as the reasoning behind it. In the same season, Bolton signed Nicolas Anelka for £8 million.

Ricketts then had brief spells at Preston North End, Oldham Athletic, Walsall and Tranmere Rovers, before retiring in 2010 aged just 31.

Michael Ricketts now works as a football agent, representing clients such as Watford FC striker Troy Deeney. (You can listen to an interview Ricketts did last year by clicking here.)