Fabrice Fernandes

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Fabrice Fernandes is a former French winger who was born in Aubervillers, France on 29th October 1979. Fernandes started his career with Rennes, breaking into the first team during the 1998/99 season. He helped the club qualify for the Intertoto Cup in 1999. Fernandes also represented France at U21 level during this time.

In August 2000 Fernandes joined Fulham on loan. He was part of the Cottagers side that won promotion from Division One to the Premiership, contributing with goals against Northampton, Blackburn and Nottingham Forest. Fernandes really captured attention during an FA Cup third round tie against Manchester United in January 2001. The midfielder curled a free kick in off the post to level the score against the Premiership champions (United later went on to win 2-1). Fernandes lost his place in Jean Tigana's side in February 2001, and joined Glasgow Rangers for a short spell in March. He scored a stunning goal from just outside the area on his Gers debut, just seconds after coming on against Motherwell.

In December 2001 Fernandes signed for Southampton for £1,200,000. He made his Saints debut as a late substitute in a 1-0 defeat against Leeds on 29th December. It wasn't until 30th January 2002 that Fernandes really made an impact. He scored a terrific left footed free kick in a 2-0 win over West Ham, putting him over with the Saints crowd.

It's fair to say Fernandes wasn't the sharpest knife in the draw. While he was at Fulham he complained to the club's liaison officer that he was waking up with a wet head, only to later discover that he had been leaving his windows open when it rained.

Fernandes had a very impressive 2002/03 campaign, playing an important role in Southampton's 8th placed Premiership finish and run to the FA Cup final. The former Fulham man usually started on the right hand side of midfield, where he liked to cut inside using his favoured left foot. He got off to a great start that season with a goal in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in August. Fernandes later netted goals against Tranmere, Man United and a last minute free kick at Leeds. He was surprisingly dropped from the FA Cup final against Arsenal in May 2003, despite an excellent performance in the semi-final against Watford. Manager Gordon Strachan elected to pick Paul Telfer on the right hand side of midfield, with youngster Chris Baird coming in at right back. The idea was to give more protection against the threat of Arsenal left winger Robert Pires, who weeks earlier had given Fernandes and Saints a torrid time. Despite the change, Pires still went on to score the only goal of the game. Fernandes made an appearance in the contest as a late sub.

Fernandes was hit and miss during 2003/04, but did score a terrific equalising goal in stoppage time against Everton on 21st February. He had been unhappy with the club ever since he was left out of the starting line up for the FA Cup final, and after being dropped against Portsmouth in December 2003 he said "it was the final straw and I'm prepared to leave". Fernandes's contract was due to expire in June 2004, and although Saints had the option to extend it for another two years, the former Rennes man expected to leave. The Frenchman did stay however, but had a less successful 2004/05 than he would have hoped. Fernandes went off injured in a match against former club Fulham on 5th January 2005 and never played for the club again. He and new manager Harry Redknapp failed to hit it off, with Redknapp blaming Fernandes for upsetting the dressing room with a bad attitude.

On August 31st 2005 Fernandes joined Bolton on a free transfer. The deal would later come under scrutiny from the Stevens enquiry, which was looking into corruption and illegal payments in football. Agent Willie McKay negotiated the deal, and said he acted on behalf of Southampton and didn't receive a penny from Bolton (At the time it was against FA rules to receive payments from more than one party in a single transfer). Fernandes made his Trotters debut on 15th September 2005 in a UEFA Cup tie against Lokomotiv Plovdiv. He made just four more appearances for the club however, including just one in the Premiership, in a 5-1 defeat against champions Chelsea.

In February 2006 Fernandes joined Beitar Jerusalem, who were owned by Arkady Gaydamak, father of then Pompey chief Alexandre Gaydamak. This transfer was also under investigation from the Stevens enquiry. Football agent Peter Harrison was recorded by BBC's Panorama programme in January 2006 in a conversation looking to offload Fernandes. Fernandes spent a year with the Israeli outfit, helping them to a League Championship win in 2007.

After leaving Beitar Jerusalem, Fernandes had unsuccessful trials at Stoke and Dunfermline. He joined Romanian Champions Dinamo Bucharest in 2007, but left after only a few months. Fernandes had a short spell with Le Harve in 2008 before being released again.

In 2011 Fernandes spent time in prison for extortion

Fernandes resurfaced from a four year absence in February 2012 when he turned up at Doncaster on trial as part of the doomed Willie McKay experiment. Predictably he struggled to regain match fitness and wasn't offered a full-time contract.