Friday, December 14, 2007

6. Wes Brown

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Wes Brown

Wes Brown

Wes Brown

Wes Brown

Birthdate: 13 Oct 1979
Birthplace: Manchester
Position: Defender
Appearances: 273
Joined United: 08 Jul 1996
United Debut: 04 May 1998 v Leeds United (H)
International England

After a career so blighted by injury, it’s amazing that Wes Brown has managed to develop into such an outstanding defender.

Two cases of damaged knee ligaments and a broken ankle have hampered the defender to the extent that he only passed the 200-appearance mark in January 2006, eight years after making his debut. However, the sporadic nature of his first-team outings have not masked his class. Tough-tackling, strong in the air and fast on the deck, Wes is exceptionally talented.

A local lad, born in Longsight, Brown signed as a trainee in July 1996, putting pen to paper on professional forms

four months later. In his first full season he picked up the Denzil Haroun Young Player of the Year award. His promise earned a senior debut against Leeds United on 4 May 1998, and a first start against Barnsley a week later.

His performances in 1998/99 caught the eye, but knee-ligament injuries ahead of the 1999/00 season and at the end of the 2002/03 campaign were bookends to a broken ankle in August 2002. Many players might have been demoralised by such wretched luck, but Brown’s grit saw him return in September 2003 and complete the rest of the 2003/04 season. In 2005/06 he finally became a linchpin in the centre of defence; his no-nonsense style perfectly complimenting Rio Ferdinand’s more languid approach, and providing a solid platform for United's backline. Brown's form looked set to catapult him back onto the international scene for the World Cup in Germany, but despite his fine form though, Wes was omitted from England’s squad.

The 2006/07 campaign – with Nemanja Vidic imperious alongside Ferdinand at the heart of the Reds’ rearguard – meant opportunities were limited in Wes’ preferred central position, but as ever, he has not rocked the boat, taking his chances and taking them well when they have arisen. An England recall duly

came for the 5-0 win over Andorra in September.

As the season came to a climax, Wes passed the 250-appearance mark in all competitions and claimed his fourth Premiership winners' medal. His Reds' contract runs until 2008 and he’s in no rush to look elsewhere. "I would love to see out my career with United," he told United Review in February. "I’m a Manchester lad and Old Trafford is still the only place for me." That’s good news for fans of the man Sir Alex called the "most naturally gifted defender in England."


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