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Graham Alexander – The Consummate Professional

The current Motherwell manager had an impressive football career, making his way up the English footballing pyramid as either a solid full back or holding midfielder, playing over 1000 career games for club and country. Those clubs being Scunthorpe, Luton, Preston and Burnley.

Alexander started his career with Scunthorpe’s youth team in 1988 before signing professional forms and playing 159 games with the senior team helping himself to 18 goals. He would move to Luton Town in 1995 where he would turn out for The Hatters 150 times scoring 15 goals in the process. By this time Alexander was beginning to earn a bit of a reputation for himself as a solid dependable player who could put his foot on the ball and pick a pass. He then earned a move to Preston North End in March 1999 where he would spend the next 8 years of his career [7 of those competing in the English Championship] Playing 352 games and hitting the net 52 times.

In 2007 Alexanders dedication and determination would be rewarded with a £200,000 move to a Burnley side pushing for promotion. Promotion to The Premier League was duly achieved and Alexander would enter the history books as the oldest player to make his Premier League debut, at the ripe old age of 37. Not only did he make his debut but was named as club captain and would make a further 32 league appearances that season, scoring 7 goals into the bargain. Alexander would leave Burnley in 2011 making 177 appearances and scoring 24 goals. He would head back to Preston for one last swansong appearing 18 times and scoring 2 goals. His last appearance was marked with a 90th minute trademark free-kick equaliser in a 2 all draw with League One Champions Charlton. It was actually his last touch of the ball as a professional. A fitting way to end your career.

There are many figures banded about the internet relating to Alexanders prowess from the penalty spot. Some websites say 72 scored from 77 but we’ll go with TransferMarket who have Alexander down as having converted 61 out of 65 penalties in his career which is a 93.8% conversion rate. That is a pretty impressive stat and should certainly be spoken about more often than it does.

On the 16th April 2011, in Burnley’s win over Swansea City in a Championship Match, Alexander would become only the second outfield player in English football history to have made 1,000 professional appearances

In 2002, Alexander would gain his first international call up at the age of 30. He would come off the bench at Pittodrie where Berti Vogts Scotland would lose 2-1 to Nigeria in a friendly. He would go on to make 40 international appearances. The highlights would be The famous wins over France Home and Away, a draw with Italy in 2005 and a draw with Croatia in 2008. Over the 40 appearances Alexander made for Scotland, he only gained one yellow card which he picked up in a 1-1 draw with New Zealand in 2003.

This jersey comes from Alexanders last Scotland Game which was a World Cup Qualifier played at Hampden Park against Macedonia on the 5th of September 2009. Scotland won 2 nil with goals coming from Scott Brown and James McFadden. Alexander played the full 90mins.

Steve Cotterill probably summed up Alexanders character and professionalism best when he said ” His boots were always spotless, he didn’t have an inch of fat on him and, if he spoke, players may have questioned him but they knew he was right. The only shame is that he is 38, he deserves to have played in The Premier League a lot longer “

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