In 2008, West Bromwich Albion won the Championship title, but what have those players been up to since?
In the 2007/08 season, Tony Mowbray built one of West Brom’s most exciting sides ever. After Play-off final heartbreak the year prior, Mowbray sold some of the clubs biggest names, including Diomansy Kamara, Curtis Davies and Jason Koumas.
Mowbray rebuilt, and instilled a crowd-delighting gung-ho mentality. The result was high-scoring games and enthralling football. His side managed an incredible 88 goals – 19 more than second placed Stoke. Albion won the league and will be remembered as one of the club’s most beloved sides. But where are those players now?
Goalkeeper and defence
Dean Kiely was West Brom’s first-choice keeper through the season and stayed at the club as a player until 2011. The Irish-stopper then moved into a coaching role at The Hawthorns working under the likes of Steve Clarke and Pepe Mel. He left the club when Tony Pulis joined as manager in January of 2015. Kiely is now a goalkeeper coach at Championship side Norwich City.
The second choice keeper for the 2007/08 team was Luke Steele. The ex-Man Utd man only played twice for the Baggies and now turns out for Greek side Panathinaikos. Those with sharp memories will recall the name of Albion third-choice keeper – Michal Danek. He never played a game following his move from FC Vikotria Plzen. Danek now plays for his boyhood side SK Dynamo Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic.
Albion’s defensive options weren’t particularly impressive but that didn’t matter much with goals flying in at the other end. However, Mowbray could always depend on stalwart defender Paul Robinson to pull things together. The ever-reliable Robinson –now 37 - still plays in the Championship for Birmingham City. While, fellow West Brom cult-hero, Neil Clement, struggled with injuries throughout his career and was forced to retire at the age of 31.
Mowbray brought in Stoke right-back Carl Hoefkens in the summer of 2007, and the Belgian went on to make 52 appearances for the club. Now 37, Hoefkens plays for Gibraltar based side Manchester 62 - following spells at Club Brugge, Lierse and Oostende.
Martin Albrechtsen was signed by Gary Megson in 2004 and never managed to live up to his billing. The Dane was utilised across the back four and clocked up 118 appearances. He now plays for Danish side Brondby IF. Bostjan Cesar was brought in to add a physical presence to Mowbray’s defence but he didn’t earn a permanent move following the 07/08 season. The big centre-back is currently at Italian Serie A side Chievo.
Leon Barnett arrived from Luton to fill the void left by Curtis Davies. The young defender never fulfilled his promise and left in 2011. After spells at Norwich, Cardiff and Wigan – he joined League One side Bury this summer.
This was also the season that Pele played for West Brom. The Cape Verdean defender joined from Southampton but failed to impress. Pele now turns out in non-league football for AFC Totton.
Shelton Martis played under Mowbray at Hibernian and initially struggled to adjust to English football. Following his time at The Hawthorns, he had a good spell at Doncaster Rovers and currently plays for Thailand based side Super Power Samut Prakan.
Mowbray was never shy of taking a chance on obscure footballers and Mozambique-born Tininho was one of these. The left-back only made one appearance before being loaned out to Barnsley. He now plays in Portugal for Second Division side C.D Pinhalnovense.
During this season, Albion fans sang that they had the ‘best midfield in the world’, and it was certainly the best in the Championship. Jonathan Greening captained the side through the 2007/8 season and starred in a central midfield role. Greening went on to play for Fulham and featured in the side that reach the Europa Cup final. He remains in football and recently helped Tadcaster Albion to the Northern Counties East Football League title.
Robert Koren and Filipe Teixeira were integral additions to Mowbray’s side. Both became fan-favourites and played vital roles in Albion’s attacking side. When his time at West Brom was over, Koren stayed in England with Hull City until 2014 when he joined A-League side Melbourne City. He played alongside the likes of ex-Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and ex-Birmingham midfielder Neil Kilkenny until he was released in February.
Teixeira may have left English football in 2010, but he recently made an impact when he scored a goal for Astra Giurgiu to help knock West Ham out of the Europa League. Now 35, he will play in the Europa League group stages against Roma, Austria Wien and Viktoria Plzen.
Baggies fans were delighted to see 37-year-old Zoltan Gera still pulling the strings for Hungary at the European Championships this summer. Gera showed that class is permanent and his wonder strike against Portugal was voted ‘Goal of the Tournament’ by UEFA. The Albion hero now plays his club football for Ferencvaros in Hungary.
In January of 2008, Mowbray brought in South Korean midfielder Kim Do-Heon to boost his squad. Do-Heon rarely featured but did score in the final game of the season away at QPR. Heon returned to South Korean football in 2009 after just 4 appearances. He now captains Seongnam FC.
Kevin Phillips was the perfect goalscorer to fit Mowbray’s attack-minded side. ‘Super Kev’ was the season’s top scorer with 22 league goals. Unfortunately, Phillips left on a free transfer following Albion’s promotion, with Chairman Jeremy Peace unwilling to offer him a guaranteed two-year deal. Phillips went onto play into his 40’s while Mowbray’s side struggled desperately for goals in the Premier League. The ex-Sunderland man is now an assistant head coach for Nigel Pearson’s Derby side.
Phillips was often partnered upfront by target man Roman Bednar. The Czech Republic forward contributed 13 goals and later made his loan move from Hearts permanent. Bednar became a fans favourite but issues off the field blighted the latter part of his Baggies career. He had underwhelming spells with Leicester and Blackpool before spending the 2015/16 season at Sparta Prague. Bednar is now scoring goals for Czech side FK Pribram.
Craig Beattie joined from Celtic for £1.25m in the summer of 2007 but failed to make his mark at The Hawthorns. The Scottish striker managed 4 goals for Mowbray’s side before a series of loans spells at Preston North End, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United. Beattie recently joined Scottish League Two side Edinburgh City.
Ishmael Miller joined on a season-long loan from Manchester City and made an instant impression on the Albion faithful. He scored minutes into his debut against Preston after an explosive and defence-bullying run. Miller scored 7 goals and joined on a permanent deal at the end of the season. A horrific knee injury suffered against Portsmouth curtailed his West Brom career and he left permanently for Nottingham Forest in 2011. Miller is now a free agent after being released by Huddersfield Town.
In February of 2008, Mowbray brought in Luke Moore on loan from Aston Villa. A sending-off on his debut epitomised his dismal spell at West Brom. The goal shy striker spent last season at Toronto FC but was later released.
Moore wasn’t the only Albion striker to struggle for goals in the 2007/8 season. Sherjill MacDonald couldn’t buy a goal. The Dutchman has since scored goals in the Belgian League for Germinal Beerschot but now turns out for Almere City.
Albion buffs may also remember Polish striker Bartosz Slusarski. The forward only made one appearance and now plays for Miejski Klub Sportowy.
Meanwhile, Albion’s 2007/8 youth players Jared Hodgkiss, David Worrall and Stuart Nicholson all remain in the game. Worrall had a good spell with Southend and recently earned a move to Millwall. Nicholson has been quite the journeyman clocking up 21 clubs -this season he is at Springvale City. Hodgkiss is now a regular for Kidderminster Harriers
Two members of Mowbray’s side remain at The Hawthorns. Chris Brunt and James Morrison are both closing in on 10 years at the club. Mowbray is currently manager of League One side Coventry City.
The 2007/08 West Brom squad and Tony Mowbray will be fondly remembered by West Brom fans. The Mowbray-way was rarely dull.
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