Imants Bleidelis

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Imants Bleidelis is a former Latvian midfielder who was born in Riga, Latvia on 16th August 1975. Bleidelis began his career with Skonto in 1992, and became a mainstay in the side that won league titles in every season until his 1999 departure. He also became a regular at international level, winning a total of 106 caps for Lativia. In August 1999 Bleidelis represented Skonto in a Champions League Prelim match against Chelsea.

Bleidelis signed for Southampton in December 1999 for £600,000. The midfielder arrived in early 2000 after his work permit was approved. Unlike his fellow countryman Marian Pahars, Bliedelis struggled to make an impact at The Dell, and spent most of his time in the club's reserve side. His debut finally arrived on 26th September 2000 when he lined up in a 3-1 League Cup win at Mansfield. Bleidelis made just three further appearances that campaign. He was unfortunate to be in the side that blew a 3-0 lead at Tranmere on 20th February 2001. Bleidelis made his final Saints appearance as a last minute substitute against West Ham on 30th January 2002. It was the only time he featured in a domestic match during 2001/02. Bleidelis was released by Saints in January 2003.

After leaving Southampton Bleidelis relocated to Denmark to sign with Viborg FF. He helped the club to a series of mid-table finishes before moving to Grazer AK in 2005. Bleidelis was still an important cog in the Latvian setup at this point. He helped his country qualify for Euro 2004, and played in all three group games at the tournament itself. Bleidelis would continue to feature for Latvia until his final appearance against Spain in a European Championship qualifier on 2nd June 2007. He had a short spell with FK Jurmala in 2006/07, before winding his career down with Liepajas Metalurgs. After picking up a Baltic League Title in 2007 Bleidelis hung up his boots.