Paul Stewart strikes me as one of those tried and trusted footballers. He won’t grab the headlines, and whilst he wasn’t the most glamorous of players, he had the privilege of playing alongside some of the greats in the late 80s and early-mid 90s. It comes as no surprise that I have heard his name mentioned when his teams have been discussed by older followers of the game and I can appreciate the fact that he must have been a worthy player considering he finished his career having played over 550 times. Interestingly, Stewart can claim to have played in a London, Merseyside, Manchester and Tyne-Wear derby. The former player was born in Manchester, in 1964, and currently lives in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. So after a career that lasted the best part of 20 years, whatever happened to Paul Stewart?
His first club, from the Lancashire county he was born in, was Blackpool and this is where he clocked up more appearances than any of his other employers. He played for them 201 times. After originally starting out as an apprentice there, Stewart made his debut for them in 1982. Possibly due to the fact that this was his first club, Stewart was said to be unsure of his best position and regularly alternated between playing in midfield and as a centre-forward. Eventually it was seen that playing as a striker was the best place for him and he didn’t disappoint as he scored 21 goals in one season for Blackpool. Even with his new found position of striker, Stewart still had the ability to lay on the goals for team-mates, which must have come from his days in the midfield. However, part of his time there will be remembered in a bad way- he was part of the team that finished four places from the bottom of the entire Football League- their lowest ever finish in the league.
After playing for Blackpool for six years, Manchester City was his next destination and they paid £200,000 for his services. At the time this was a record price someone had paid Blackpool for a player. City quickly started benefiting from his signing when he scored 24 goals in the 87-8 season- his first and only one for the Manchester club. Terry Venables and Tottenham came knocking on the door and Stewart was sold to the north London club for £1.7m and once again Stewart was involved in a record at the time- it was the highest a club had ever paid for a Second Division player. It was at Tottenham where Stewart really came to prominence. He won an FA Cup, where he scored the first goal in Spurs’ 1991 success, got his three England caps and starred in a midfield that had Paul Gascoigne in it. He went back in to midfield at Tottenham because, after scoring 12 goals in his first season at White Hart Lane, the goals dried up. Stewart was a player that worked hard at Tottenham and didn’t really have the pace to influence further up the pitch.
In 1992, Liverpool turned out to be Stewart’s next destination and they brought him for £2.3m. This was supposed to be where he would hit new heights but it didn’t pan out like that because of injury. This is something Stewart was clearly gutted at. Referring to his time at Anfield, he said: “I would liked to have succeeded there, but I didn’t. You always get remembered for those sort of things.” His form started to dip as well and managed to find the net just once in 24 games. At the time Liverpool had their famous batch of youngsters, like Robbie Fowler, coming through so Stewart found himself on loan to Crystal Palace for the 93-94 season, at Wolves in the early part of the 94-95 season and finally at Burnley for the second half of the same season. He was of course contracted to Liverpool during his three loan spells but inevitably moved on for good and signed for Sunderland, on a free transfer, for the end of the 95-96 campaign.
He enjoyed a good first half to his time with the north-east club as they won promotion to the Premier League at the end of that term, and he converted back to being a striker. However, the move didn’t work out for him personally or the club as they were relegated after only one season in the top flight. Stewart subsequently moved on to Stoke City.
The next stages of his professional career were to be his last ones, as Stoke was the last senior club he played for in the 97-98 season. Once again another of his team’s were relegated and Stewart retired from senior football. This meant that he ended up signing for non-league Workington and scored 15 goals in 55 games, in a two-year stay. At the end of the 99-00 he retired completely from the game for good.
Stewart has been doing a various range of extra-curricular activities since retiring, and in the last 10 years he has managed to get his own business, which is selling advertising space on ad-boards, and also studied a degree in Spanish at university. Finally, an achievement he must be proud of is his induction in to the hall of fame at Bloomfield Road- the home of Blackpool.
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