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Ben Thatcher
Personal information
Full name Benjamin David Thatcher
Date of birth (1975-11-30) 30 November 1975 (age 48)
Place of birth Swindon, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Left back
Youth career
000?–1992 Millwall
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1996 Millwall 90 (1)
1996–2000 Wimbledon 86 (0)
2000–2003 Tottenham Hotspur 36 (0)
2003–2004 Leicester City 29 (1)
2004–2007 Manchester City 47 (0)
2007–2008 Charlton Athletic 22 (0)
2008–2010 Ipswich Town 20 (0)
Total 330 (2)
National team
1995–1997 England U21 4 (0)
2004–2005 Wales 7 (0)
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Benjamin David Thatcher (born 30 November 1975) is a former professional footballer who played as a left-back.

He played for a number of English clubs, and has featured in more than 300 English league games, all of which were in the top two leagues in the country, notably spending time in the Premier League with Wimbledon, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Manchester City. He also played for Millwall, Charlton Athletic and Ipswich Town. He represented England's under-21 national team on four occasions, but chose to represent the senior Wales national team, for whom he earned seven caps.

Club career

Thatcher was born in Swindon, Wiltshire. As a youth, he played Sunday League football for various amateur teams in London, before attending the Football Association (FA)'s School of Excellence at Lilleshall.

Millwall

Upon graduation, he signed his first professional contract with Millwall, making his debut in the 1993–94 season at the age of 18. The following season, he established himself in the Millwall first team, and scored his first goal as a professional. He made more than 100 appearances for Millwall, and won their Player of the Year award for the 1995–96 season.

Wimbledon

In the 1996 close season, he was transferred to Wimbledon F.C. for a fee of more than £1.8million - making him Wimbledon's first million-pound signing and doubling the club's previous record fee which had been paid for Efan Ekoku three years earlier.

In his first season at Wimbledon, Thatcher made only nine appearances, but played more regularly in subsequent seasons. He was banned for two matches in January 2000 for elbowing Nicky Summerbee of Sunderland to the head in the build-up to a goal; the incident was missed by the referee but action was taken by the governing body following a video review. After Wimbledon's relegation from the Premiership at the end of the 1999–2000 season, Thatcher moved to Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham Hotspur

Thatcher cost Tottenham Hotspur a fee of around £5 million in the Summer of 2000. A few months after the transfer, Spurs manager George Graham was sacked, and Thatcher featured less frequently under successor Glenn Hoddle, though he was a member of the Spurs team for the 2002 League Cup final.

Leicester City

Thatcher subsequently moved to Leicester City in a £300,000 transfer deal in the summer 2003, immediately proceeding to attack Glenn Hoddle's style of management.

After a single season at Leicester, Thatcher once again found himself in the arms of a relegated club, and moved to Manchester City. He scored once in the league for Leicester, in a 4–4 draw with his former club Spurs.

Manchester City

His move to Manchester City cost around £100,000. His Manchester City debut came on the opening day of the 2004–05 season against Fulham. He was initially the first choice left-back at Manchester City, but a combination of injuries and the emergence of Stephen Jordan limited him to 21 appearances in his first season for the club. In January 2005 Thatcher nearly joined Fulham for a fee of £500,000 after a series of burglaries unsettled his family, but the move fell through. His second Manchester City season followed a similar pattern to the first, with most of his 19 starts coming in the first half of the season.

Thatcher gained notoriety on 23 August 2006, in a game between Manchester City and Portsmouth. Whilst challenging with Pedro Mendes for a loose ball Thatcher viciously and intentionally led with his elbow, knocking Mendes into the advertising hoardings rendering him unconscious. Mendes required oxygen at pitchside and suffered a seizure while being transferred to hospital, where he spent the night. Mendes was discharged from hospital the next day, but remained under medical supervision. Thatcher was not sent off by referee Dermot Gallagher but given just a yellow card, but he was investigated by the FA as a result of the challenge. He was disciplined and his barrister, Rupert Bowers KC, read a written apology following the hearing. Greater Manchester Police noted receipt of many "statements of complaint" and also chose to investigate the matter. On 30 August, Manchester City announced that Thatcher would be banned for six matches, two of which would be suspended, and fined six weeks' wages for the challenge. This punishment is separate from the sanctions made by the FA, who suspended Thatcher for eight matches, with a further fifteen game suspended ban for two years. Mendes shook hands with Thatcher pre-match when they next faced one another in January 2007, despite claiming beforehand that he would not do so.

Thatcher also faced possible action from Lancashire Police over a clash with ex-Blackburn Rovers player Ralph Welch during a reserve game at Ewood Park in February 2006.

Charlton Athletic

He signed for Charlton Athletic on 11 January 2007 for a reported fee of £500,000, which could rise to £750,000 depending on appearances. He played his first match for Charlton Athletic on 23 January 2007 against Middlesbrough; the team were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season.

Ipswich Town

Thatcher joined Ipswich Town on 14 August 2008 on a one-year contract with an option to extend it for a further year. His contract was terminated by Roy Keane on 26 February 2010, due to his refusal to move closer to the club.

International career

During his time at Wimbledon, Thatcher played for the England under-21 team four times. However, in 2004 he opted to play for Wales, for whom he qualifies due to his Welsh grandmother. His debut international performance came against Hungary, in a 2–1 victory in March 2004, and by October 2004 he had earned seven caps for Wales.

In October 2004, John Toshack was appointed new Welsh national team coach, but Thatcher did not play any games under Toshack, due to suspensions and injuries. Thatcher did not play Wales' 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against England and Poland in early September 2005 on grounds of injury, while playing full-time three days later when Manchester City met cross-city rivals Manchester United. This angered Toshack, and Thatcher was categorically left out of the Welsh national team in September 2005.

Career statistics

Club

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals
Millwall 1993–94 First Division 8 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 10 0
1994–95 First Division 40 1 4 0 4 0 48 1
1995–96 First Division 42 0 2 0 2 0 46 0
Total 90 1 7 0 6 0 1 0 104 1
Wimbledon 1996–97 Premier League 9 0 0 0 0 0 9 0
1997–98 Premier League 26 0 3 0 3 0 32 0
1998–99 Premier League 31 0 2 0 7 0 40 0
1999–2000 Premier League 20 0 0 0 2 0 22 0
Total 86 0 5 0 12 0 0 0 103 0
Tottenham Hotspur 2000–01 Premier League 12 0 0 0 3 0 15 0
2001–02 Premier League 12 0 2 0 3 0 17 0
2002–03 Premier League 12 0 1 0 1 0 14 0
Total 36 0 3 0 7 0 0 0 46 0
Leicester City 2003–04 Premier League 29 1 0 0 0 0 29 1
Manchester City 2004–05 Premier League 18 0 1 0 2 0 21 0
2005–06 Premier League 18 0 0 0 1 0 19 0
2006–07 Premier League 11 0 0 0 0 0 11 0
Total 47 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 51 0
Charlton Athletic 2006–07 Premier League 11 0 0 0 0 0 11 0
2007–08 Championship 11 0 0 0 0 0 11 0
Total 22 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 22 0
Ipswich Town 2008–09 Championship 20 0 1 0 2 0 23 0
2009–10 Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 20 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 23 0
Career total 330 2 17 0 30 0 1 0 378 2

International

Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Wales 2004 7 0
Total 7 0

Honours

Tottenham Hotspur

Individual

  • PFA Team of the Year: 1994–95 First Division
  • Millwall Player of the Year: 1995–96

See also

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