As a fresh-faced 17-year-old at Selhurst Park, Newcastle winger Wayne Routledge had the world at his feet. After breaking into the Crystal Palace first-team at the tender age of 16 in 2001, Sidcup-born Routledge went onto score within a minute of his full debut the following season.
Routledge’s reputation continued to grow at Palace throughout the early stages of his career and he went onto make over 100 appearances for The Eagles in just over three seasons in South London. After helping Palace win promotion from The Championship in 2003, the former fan favourite impressed in his debut Premier League season.
Tottenham Hotspur were huge admirers of Routledge’s talents and brought him to White Hart Lane in 2005. Tipped as a future England star, Routledge was expected to develop and fulfil his undoubted potential under Martin Jol at Spurs following an impressive pre-season campaign. While Routledge couldn’t have wished for a better start at Palace, his opening game for the North Londoners was something of a nightmare. In what set the tone for the rest of his spell at Spurs, the winger cruelly broke his foot, keeping him out of action for five months.
Routledge never got his career back on track at Tottenham and was loaned out to several clubs including Portsmouth and Fulham before finally moving to QPR in 2009 albeit via Aston Villa and Cardiff. Routledge eventually signed for Newcastle in January 2010 where he has been given the confidence and time to flourish under manager Chris Houghton and start to fulfil his undoubted potential.
Newcastle is already the midfielder’s EIGHTH club in ten years and the 26-year-old fully intends to make it his last. Routledge is tired of moving around and may have finally found a place to call home at St James’ Park, revealing:
“I know I have had a lot of clubs but it’s not like I have not been trying to settle over the last few years,” Routledge said.
“I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to be moving around the whole time, I want to be able to concentrate fully on my football and to do that I need to build a career at one club.
“Hopefully that will bring out the best in me when I’m out on the pitch knowing I’m settled in my life. Newcastle is the perfect place for me to do that.”
Routledge certainly has all the attributes to be a hit in the Premier League, starring in Newcastle’s 6-0 romp over Aston Villa last Sunday. His pace, vision and trickery make him a handful for any defender, while the width he provides Newcastle on the right in invaluable. The flying winger has started his club’s opening two Premier League games this season and a regular run in the side will benefit him greatly after a stop-start career to date.
A rejuvenated Routledge is a major bonus for The Magpies and could be key to the club’s chances on their return to the Premier League. Routledge and Newcastle could well be the perfect combination on the road to redemption.
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