While we all wait for the Premier League action to start again after International Break, Scott Bentley takes a look at another “one that got away” ?
Digging in to transfer windows past and present looking at departures from the club and the benefits or lack of them to the club. Hindsight is a powerful thing but did we cut our losses too early? Have they went on to bigger and better things, or was it a great decision to suit all parties? More importantly is he the one that got away?
116 games 7 goals for LCFC
17 England caps from U16-U21 level
PFA Championship Team of the Year 2009
City awards :
Young Player of the Year 2003/04
Player of the Year 2007
Players Player of the Year 2008
Another graduate from the City youth system, Richard Stearman was born in Wolverhampton but raised in Leicestershire. The defender caught the eye of scouts playing for local side Harborough Town and went on to make his full debut aged just 17 against Cardiff City on October 30th 2004.
A tall and commanding centre half, he has also proven his versatility by slotting in at right back several times throughout his career. A quick over view of his career so far would probably mark him as one of those consistent championship level English players… Nothing less, but nothing more.
The kind of player that has worked his way through the England youth set up at every platform but never quite making it to a full international cap. Think Michael Mancienne, Gavin Hoyte, Dan Gosling or Henri Lansbury.. that ilk of player.
From a leicester fans point of view Stearman’s performances were a silver lining throughout a clouded spell for the club. Interest from clubs above us was a constant and with Leicester experiencing financial instability there was always the fear we would sell too early. The meltdown under Milan Mandaric and the merry go round of managers coming in certainly can’t have helped the players progression or our chances of keeping emerging stars.
On a cold day in Stoke in May 2008 it was confirmed. A 0-0 draw under the ‘leadership’ of Ian Holloway meant we dropped to the third tier of English football for the first time in our 145 year history. Even in the end, Stearman was a constant battling force trying to prevent the un-preventable. He drove forward, desperate for a goal, desperate for a glimmer of hope. Hope that wasn’t to be found. Mandaric wasn’t even there to watch.
For players like Steve Howard or Bruno N’Gotty, relegation was just a disappointment at the end of a long career. For Stearman his career was only just starting. On June 25th 2008 he signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers. Truth be told he was too good for league 1, Wolves looked to be a club on the up and he needed to keep the momentum going in his career. Leicester were so confident in his progression we added several clauses to the deal in the event of promotion to the premier league and his full England debut. Since then Mandaric has left, the King Power group has come in and history has been made.
Stearman must have felt he had no choice but to leave. The club was in a terrible state probably the worst it has been in our history and it didn’t show signs of improving. With Nigel Pearson at the helm we did however bounce back to the Championship. Pearson was a strong and smart centre half in his day and his ability to get the best out of average players was a driving force in our success.
We would LOVE to have seen what Stearman could have achieved in a Pearson side. If only he had come through a couple of years later than he did, we might have seen this happen. If only he had stuck it out and went down to League 1 with us, he could have reaped the rewards. Is Stearman the one that got away? His career post Leicester says otherwise but had he stuck with us he could have been a Championship Winner, a Premier League Winner, a Champions League Quarter Finalist… An England International?
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