Career defining goals – Jonathan Woodgate

Jonathan Woodgate`s playing career contains many peaks and troughs but the pinnacle came on 24th February 2008 when his name was forever enshrined in the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame for his winning goal in the League Cup Final.

It was the first League Cup Final to be staged at the new Wembley and Spurs faced Chelsea.

Chelsea took the lead with a typically superb 25 yard free-kick by Didier Drogba just before half-time. Spurs pressed for an equaliser for most of the second half and were finally rewarded on 70 minutes when Dimitar Berbatov kept his cool, after what seemed an eternity of delay, to stroke home an equalising penalty.

Tottenham seemed to have the upper hand from there on in but squandered two good chances to settle the game in normal time.

With only four minutes of extra-time gone, Jonathan Woodgate stepped forward to claim his place in history with one of the most bizarre goals in the history of Wembley finals.

Spurs were awarded a free-kick 30 yards from goal, on theChelsearight. Jermaine Jenas floated the ball into the area and Woodgate climbed, just outside the six-yard box where, inexplicably, he was met by the flailing palms of Peter Cech. With barely inches between them, the Spurs man flicked his forehead at the ball, which deflected on to the goalkeeper`s gloves, back on to Jonathan`s forehead and back over Cech to bounce, once in a totally unmanned six-yard box, before crossing the line.

The Spurs defender then set off on a memorable lap of honour before climbing the steps to receive his first senior winner’s medal.

Not only did Jonathan`s winner claim the League Cup for the White Hart Lane trophy cabinet it also secured UEFA Cup qualification, something they would not have achieved via their league position.

Woodgate started at Leeds in 1997 and featured regularly for the first team that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and contested the leading places in the Premier League.

He joined Newcastle United in 2003, for £9 million plus add-ons and his performances in their march to the UEFA Cup semi-finals led to his £13 million move to Real Madrid in August 2004, at a time when his CV was blighted by regular injury absences, indeed he was injured when he left for Spain.

Injuries delayed his debut for a year but despite his troubles, Woodgate became a cult hero at the Bernabeau, indeed one of the myriad Spanish football newspapers christened him `Madrid`s true leader`.

By 2006 he had established himself as a first team player but injuries struck again and in 2007 he was nominated, by more than a third of voters on a Spanish website, as the worst signing of the 21st century. By then he had returned toEngland and signed forMiddlesbrough.

Injury and the emergence of David Wheater saw Woodgate leave for Tottenham for £7 million in January 2008.

In 2008-09 he made 44 appearances but over the next two seasons he played just four times and in July 2011 he agreed a pay-as-you play deal with Stoke City. After limited first team appearances he was freed and immediately signed forMiddlesbroughin July 2012 on a three year contract.

Woodgate’s goalscoring attributes wouldn’t have looked out of place in this year’s Capital One Cup goal fest, but it’ll be a surprise if we see a stranger and more important winner this time around at Wembley on the 24th February.


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