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Pennant, Jermaine

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by Rob Molyneux & Dave Usher

Date of Birth - 15/01/83
Nationality - English
Position - Right Winger
Games -
Goals -
Club Hons (Lpool) - Community Shield 2006
Intnl Hons - England u21
Other Clubs - Notts County, Arsenal, Watford (loan), Leeds (loan), Birmingham, Real Zaragoza, Stoke City

Manager Rafael Benitez finally addressed the long known requirement for a right sided midfield player in the summer of 2006 with the highly controversial capture of Jermaine Pennant from Birmingham city, following the unsuccessful tracking of a number of alternative options.

Pennant was considered a future star when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger paid out £2million on the then 15 year old - a record fee at that time for a trainee - to take him to Highbury from Notts County. Pennant went on to become Arsenals youngest ever first team player, by two days, when he made his debut in 1999 in the league cup aged 16 years and 319 days. He had to wait until May 2003 before making his full league debut, however, but made up for lost time by scoring a hat-trick in a game against Southampton.

Jermaine had a turbulent early career in professional football, allowing himself to be in the centre of problems both on and off the field. Pennant can be proud to have made 24 appearances for England at U-21 level, making him one of the 5 most capped players at this level, despite being sent off for punching an opponent against Poland, and being sent home by then coach Howard Wilkinson for breaking a curfew before a game against Turkey.

Pennant’s Arsenal career began to wane and successful spells were spent on loan at both Watford and Leeds before signing permanently for Birmingham City in 2005. Early into his time as a Birmingham City player, in January 2005 Pennant was arrested for drink driving following an accident involving his Mercedes car whilst serving an existing 16 month driving ban and driving without insurance. Pennant was sentenced to ninety days in prison, returning to Birmingham City after 30 days to play in the Premier League whilst electronically tagged after receiving parole.

Despite being relegated with Birmingham City in 2005/6 Pennant enjoyed a relatively successful season personally, being credited with the highest amount of successful crosses in the Premier League. The relegation of the club combined with positive performances including an important contribution against Liverpool at Anfield, persuaded manager Rafa benitez to offer £6.7m, potentially rising to £8m, to prise him away form Birmingham.

Jermaine made his full Liverpool debut at Anfield against Maccabi Haifa, in the Champions League 3rd Qualifying round, putting in a dazzling performance on the right wing, highlighting his obvious talents with a ball at his feet. Despite the positive start however his Liverpool career got off to a largely frustrating start.

It began to turn around for him when he scored a fabulous volley in a 2-0 victory against Chelsea at Anfield in January, and his performances then improved dramatically, so much so that he was arguably Liverpool's best player in the CL final defeat to Milan. Pennant came of age that night, giving the Italian defence a lot of problems and going close to getting on the scoresheet.

Hopes that he would use that game as a springboard to finally fulfill the potential he'd shown as a teenager proved to be shortlived however, as a needless sending off at Porto early in the following season saw him fall out of favour and struggle to regain a regular place in the side. He was in and out of the side for the remainder of that season, but by the time 2008-09 started it was clear his days were numbered. He started just three games in the first half of the season and was loaned out to Portsmouth in January.

His contract expired that summer, and he moved to Real Zaragoza in Spain. His time there wasn't a happy one either, and a loan deal to Stoke followed. He began to enjoy his football again with the Potteries club, and was rewarded with a permanent contract. Pennant helped Stoke reach the FA Cup Final in 2011, where they lost a close game to Manchester City.

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