Danny Higginbotham

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Danny Higginbotham is an English defender who was born on 29th December 1978 in Manchester. Higginbotham began his career at Manchester United, making his debut for the Red Devils on 10th May 1998 against Barnsley.

Higginbotham went on loan to Belgian side Royal Antwerp in 1998/99 along with fellow United youngster Ronnie Wallwork. After both players allegedly attacked match official Amand Ancion in a Belgian Second Division play-off match, Higginbotham was banned for a year. The ban was later reduced to four months on appeal, after Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson lent his support.

Higginbotham returned to Old Trafford for 1999/2000, and made a handful of appearances for the Red Devils. He represented the club in Europe when he replaced Dennis Irwin on 2nd November 1999 in a 2-1 win over Sturm Graz. Higginbotham also played in the Club World Championship against South Melbourne on 11th January 2000.

On 5th July 2000 Higginbotham signed for Derby in a £2,000,000 deal. He made his debut for the club on 19th August 2000 in a 2-2 draw with Southampton, and became a regular fixture in Jim Smith's Rams side. Derby were relegated from the Premiership in 2001/02, but Higginbotham still performed well, winning the club's annual Player of the Year award. He scored his first ever goal in football in a 3-1 win at Bolton on 16th March 2002. Higginbotham initially remained loyal to the club after their relegation to Division One, but when Derby were stuck towards the wrong end of the table in January a move away was inevitable.

Higginbotham signed for Southampton on loan until the end of the season in January 2003. He made his Saints debut on February 8th 2003 in a 1-0 defeat at Blackburn. Higginbotham was brought in as cover for the injured Wayne Bridge, and made a solid start to his St Marys career. In 2003/04 Bridge left for Chelsea, but Graeme Le Saux arrived in his place, meaning Higginbotham remained second choice left back. He also filled in at centre back for Claus Lundekvam and Michael Svensson when required. When Svensson broke down in the warm up at Fratton Park in March 2004, Higginbotham became a regular starter.

With Michael Svensson still stuck on the treatment table by the time the 2004/05 season rolled around, Higginbotham retained his starting spot in the Saints side. The former Derby man had a nightmare start to the campaign, and was at fault for many goals. His failure to step up with the rest of the back four cost Southampton two goals against Arsenal and Bolton, as Thierry Henry and Henrik Pedersen beat the offside trap. He also conceded a penalty in the same match with Bolton when he needlessly hacked Kevin Davies, who was running away from goal. Things got even worse on 11th December 2004 when he helped Middlesbrough to a point after heading into his own net. Nobody could fault Higginbotham for effort however, and his last minute equaliser in the penultimate game of the season at Crystal Palace gave Harry Redknapp's side false hope that they might actually stay up.

Higginbotham had a solid enough season in 2005/06, Southampton's first campaign outside the top flight in 27 years. The defender scored two terrific free kicks against QPR and Sheffield Wednesday, as well as a penalty against Burnley.

On 3rd August 2006 Higginbotham joined Stoke City for an initial fee of 225,000. He had a successful season at The Britannia, and scored seven times, mostly from the spot. On 28th August 2007 Higginbotham signed for Roy Keane's newly promoted Premiership outfit Sunderland for £2,500,000. He made his debut at his former club Manchester United on 1st September 2007. Higginbotham's first goal for The Mackems came on 10th November 2007 in a 1-1 draw with local rivals Newcastle.

After playing in Sunderland's 2-1 win at Tottenham on August 23rd 2008, Higginbotham rejoined Stoke, who had recently been promoted to the top flight. Tony Pullis had spent £2,500,000 to bring the former Southampton man back to the Britannia. Higginbotham scored his only goal of the season against Tottenham on 19th October 2008, and helped The Potters to a 12th place finish.

When Stoke signed Danny Collins in August 2009, Higginbotham lost his place in the team. He won his place back in the team by the end of the year, and remained a regular until the end of the 2009/10 campaign. Higginbotham was a bit part player for Stoke in 2010/11, but did score in the clubs FA Cup quarter final win over West Ham on 13th March 2011. Sadly the defender missed out a chance to play in the semi-final and final of the same competition after he suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in April.

Higginbotham made just a handful of appearances for Stoke during 2011/12, mostly in the Europa League. He joined Nottingham Forest on loan in February 2012, and helped the Championship side away from relegation trouble. He scored in a 3-1 win over Millwall on 10th March 2012.