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Ricardo Fuller: Stoke City's number 10
There are rare occassions when supporting your team that you witness someone truly special, someone who makes you realise why you fell in love with the game in the first place. Ricardo Fuller walked through the Britannia Stadium doors on 31st August 2007 to start his first day at work for his new employers. We (the fans) didn't really know a great deal about the man other than he had a reputation for getting injured on a very regular basis.
Fuller signed for Stoke for £500,000 in a deal aimed to protect the club against injury to the player as there was huge doubts over the condition of the Jamaican international's knee's. In his first season he finished as top scorer with 11 goals as Stoke finished 7th in the second tier of English football. He did however have a very poor disciplinary record, picking up 2 red cards and 10 yellows.
His second season was the one when he truly became a terrace hero. Scoring 15 goals and creating many more as Stoke finished in 2nd place to gain promotion to the premier league for the first time in 23 years. We now realised what sort of player we had on our hands. His incredible strength and pace caused defenders huge problems. Add to that his brilliant close control and skill on the ball then we understood we had got one hell of a player.
Fuller had a point to prove when he began the 2008/09 season as he failed to make an impact in the top flight in a previous spell with Portsmouth. Any doubts were soon dispelled as he made some of the best defenders in the country look like Sunday league footballers. He didn't look out of place one bit. He finished the season with an impressive 11 goals as Stoke proved all the doubters wrong to finish in 12th place. This goal against Aston Villa was the pick of his goals.
That was the best of Fuller and below is the worst. In this bizarre incident Fuller slapped his own teammate and captain Andy Griffin. He recieved a red card and a 3 match ban, and left everyone in the ground perplexed by what had just happened.
Fuller's second season in the premier league with Stoke only produced 3 goals but i personally believe he produced his best form in a Stoke shirt.The only creativity coming from midfield was from Matty Etherington though so chances were few and far between. We knew he was more than just goals though. His overall play was essential to the way we played and he remained our most potent attacking threat. Amongst his 3 premier league goals was this absolute beauty against West Ham.
As i type this we are currently just over a quarter of the way through our third season in the top flight. Fuller has 3 goals to his name and has just scored in his last two games including an outstanding effort against Birmingham (video below) that was arguably better than the goals shown above. His performances have been consistenly good and he looks to be thriving despite the added competition for a place in the starting line up.
When i hear opposing fans views on Fuller i can't help but wonder whether they have actually seen him play. Outside Stoke-on-trent i just don't think anyone understands how good this guy is. On his day he's a world class footballer and can give any defender in the world a hard time. It's just a shame that his injuries have prevented him being at the top for as long as his ability deserves.
Ricardo Fuller is more than just a great player for us, he represents a new era. An era where we finally rose from obscurity, where we went from championship strugglers to a genuine premier league side. Fuller has been at the centre of everything good that has happened to this club in the last four years and whatever happens between now and the time he leaves he will leave a legacy unlike any other player has at Stoke in my lifetime.
Some of my other hubs
- The Top ten funniest football misses of all time (includes youtube videos)
- The highs and lows of a football (soccer) fan. What us supporters put ourselves through for our team
- All time English premier league bargain signings. From 1992 through to the present day - Football (s
- All time English Premier league 11. Best team of players to grace the EPL from 1992 to present day -
- Fifa 11 Ultimate Team: The best bargain signings for the PS3 version (with auction photos)
- Fifa 11 ultimate team. How do you build your team? (Includes trailer)
- Fifa 11 - A winning formation? My attempt to change my fortunes with a new attacking tactic.