Whatever happened to James Beattie? (Video)

The last the football world heard of James Beattie, he was available on a free transfer after being released by Sheffield United following a second spell at Bramall Lane that failed to yield any goals. Beattie’s goalless 2011-12 season added to a similarly miserly previous season with Rangers and Blackpool, meaning that the last time the now 34-year-old found the net was on the 31st of October 2009 for Stoke City in a 2-2 home draw with Wolves.

Many point to Beattie’s confrontation with Stoke manager Tony Pulis in December 2009 as the beginning of his downward spiral into football anonymity. After the Welshman deemed his players’ performance in a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal to be worthy of the punishment of extra training the following day, Beattie, having organised a team Christmas party in London that night, took offence to Pulis’ decision and the heated confrontation that following effectively ended his career at the Britannia.

In hindsight, Beattie may think that at the age of 31 and with time clearly running down on his career at the top level, he may have been better placed simply saying nothing despite whatever indignation he may have felt. Indeed, it was a sad way for Beattie’s relationship with Stoke to come to an end, particularly after his seven league goals from only 16 appearances after arriving in January the previous season had saved the club from relegation.

However, it is fair to say that Beattie enjoyed a highly productive career. Indeed, his five England caps that he received in 2003 were testimony to his performances at the time for Southampton, which as the video below shows, were simply outstanding at the time. Beattie’s ability to not only score tap ins but spectacular efforts seemed to mark him out as England’s ready-made replacement for Alan Shearer. However, his performances for his country were often timid and his international career, much like his club one, slowly petered out.

However, Beattie will almost certainly look back on his life at the top with much pride and particularly the 2002-03 season, where he came third in the Premier League top scorers charts with 23 goals, beaten only by Thierry Henry and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

Adam Mazrani