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Zenden, Bolo

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by Real Red

Date of Birth - 15/08/76
Nationality - Dutch
Position - Midfield
Cost - Free
Games - 47
Goals - 2
Club Hons (Lpool) - None
Club Hons (other) - Dutch Championship 1996, Spanish Championship 1997, League Cup 2004
Intnl Hons - Dutch Caps
Other Clubs - PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Marseille

Midfielder Boudewijn Zenden is thankfully known better by the easier-to-spell first name of Bolo. His Anfield career was heavily impacted by injury, with him missing five months of his first season and three months of his second season. An excellent professional, Zenden was not really able to show his best form for any kind of extended period.

He was born in Maastricht in Holland on August 15th 1976, and as a four year old started doing judo, which was one of his two big childhood sporting interests. The other was football, and he joined his first club aged just five - RKVS Leonidas. He would later join MVV Maastricht but at the age of 13 he joined the club that would become his first professional side, PSV Eindhoven.

He was very successful at judo and became a "first dan" aged 14. He put martial arts to one side though at 16 when he got his first professional football contract from PSV. He made his debut against Vitesse Arnhem at 18 in the 1994-95 season. During these early years at PSV he still managed to continue his studies to higher education level, concentrating on Public Relations and Spanish.

In 1996, just one season after he'd made his debut, Bolo picked up a Dutch Cup winners' medal and then in the following season he had made a big enough impression to be handed his international debut, playing a part in Holland's narrow 6-0 win over San Marino.

He ended that second season as a first-team player with a Dutch league championship winners' medal.

He ended his PSV career with the Young Dutch Footballer of the Year award for the 1997-98 season, before going to the World Cup with Holland. The Dutch finished fourth in the tournament, with Zenden scoring a goal in Holland's defeat in the third-place play-off match.

He started his three-season stint at Barcelona in 1998, lasting for three seasons and scoring three goals in his 86 appearances. His first season in Spain saw him win a La Liga winners' medal. Various coaches came and went over the three years and Bolo never really felt established.

In summer 2001, with various clubs chasing his signature, Bolo chose the Premiership and Chelsea where he signed for £7.5m. This was in the days before Chelsea had their vodka-daddy and the only medal he got for the Stamford Bridge outfit was a loser's medal in the 2002 FA Cup final. He managed just 32 appearances in his first season, thanks largely to injury problems, and after two seasons he had played his last game for Chelsea.

In August 2003 Chelsea allowed him spend the final season of his contract on loan at Middlesbrough. Chelsea had been the only club he hadn't won silverware with but at 'Boro he was once again picking up a winners' medal. This time it was a League Cup winner's medal he was adding to his collection, scoring the winner at Cardiff and helping the Teeside club to their first major trophy ever.

A free agent in the summer, Bolo chose to sign a 12 month contract with Boro and spent another season in the unique air of Middlesbrough.

In summer 2005 came the chance for Bolo to join the then Champions of Europe, Liverpool. Again a free agent, Liverpool got a player with European and Premiership experience for free. Rafael Benítez had seen him in action in Spain during Bolo's time at the Nou Camp, but the Dutchman had also scored the winner against Liverpool at the Riverside that previous season.

Bolo's debut appearance for the Reds came at the start of Liverpool's defence of the trophy as they took on the mighty Welsh champions TNS in July 2005. Bolo came on as a sub in the 3-0 win. This first season was unfortunately brought to a premature end when, after making just 17 appearances, he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury, just as his best form had started to show and as his chances of getting a good run in the side had started to look up.

In the summer of 2006 Rafa decided to let club legend Didi Hamann leave for Manchester City (via Bolton) because he felt Bolo was able to be part of the club's supply of central midfielders. Bolo's earlier career had been predominately as a left-side midfield player, but as his time at 'Boro went on he'd become a useful central midfielder. Rafa had been impressed by Bolo's attitude the previous season, pleased that despite being unable to play he always made the effort to show up in the dressing room and offer encouragement.

When Momo Sissoko suffered a dislocated shoulder in the Carling Cup it looked like Zenden would be getting more chances to show his stuff in the centre of the park, but bad luck came back again and Zenden himself suffered another knee injury in November 2006, only returning to action the following February.

Bolo wore number thirty in his first season at Anfield, but was able to grab his preferred number 32 for his second season after the departure of John Welsh.

Bolo left Anfield for Marseille in the summer of 2007, his last appearance for the reds proving to be the Champions League final defeat by AC Milan in Athens.

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