James Beattie

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James Beattie is an English striker born in Lancaster on 27th February 1978. Beattie signed for Blackburn as a youngster, having turned his back on a career in swimming. The future England striker was driven from Blackburn to Wigan everyday for two hour swimming lessons as a child. The practise paid off with Beattie becoming the second fastest 100 metre free style swimmer in the country. He was soon forced to concentrate his efforts on football however after a cartridge in his shoulder wore away due to overtraining. Doctors told him he could become arthritic if he carried on. Beattie's parents worked overtime and remortgaged their house in order to send their son to grammar school. Young James repaid the faith his mother and father had showed in him by excelling in education, gaining A grades in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths.

Beattie made his full debut for Blackburn on 12th October 1996 against an Arsenal side who were competing in their first ever match under new boss Arsene Wenger. Beattie made just a handful of appearances at Ewood Park over the next two years, failing to dislodge the prolific Chris Sutton and Kevin Gallagher.

Beattie signed for Dave Jones's Southampton in July 1998 for £ 1,000,000. The young forward made his Saints debut in a 2-1 loss against Liverpool on 16th August 1998. Beattie made gradual progress throughout 1998/99 after netting his first goal in a 3-3 draw with Middlesbrough on November 7th. He played an important role in Southampton's great escape that season. His cross/shot gave Saints a 2-1 win over Leicester on 1st May, putting Dave Jones's side out of the bottom three for the first time that campaign. That was followed by another goal in the penultimate match of the season against Wimbledon a week later, which helped to preserve the clubs Premiership status. Beattie crowned a great first season at the Dell by winning the Player of the Year award.

Beattie's progress stuttered during 1999/2000, as injury and lack of form proved to be a problem. He failed to score all season, and did not react well to the managerial change that saw Glenn Hoddle replacing Dave Jones. Hoddle was unimpressed by Beattie, and told the former Blackburn man he would never make it as a top level striker. The former England manager even tried to engineer a transfer to Crystal Palace, but James resisted and eventually won Hoddle over. After netting a brace against Chelsea on 4th November 2000, Beattie entered a great run of form, scoring 10 from 10. He helped Saints reach the 5th round of the FA Cup in 2001, although the goals dried up after Hoddle was replaced by Stuart Gray in March 2001.

Beattie started the 2001/02 season fairly well as Saints moved into their new St Marys home. He scored goals in wins over Brighton, Middlesbrough and Gillingham, but it wasn't until Gordon Strachan took over as manager in October that Beattie really found his feet. The pair hit it off instantly, with Beattie providing the cross for Marian Pahars to score in Strachan's first win as new boss. The former Coventry chief set about building his team around his star centre forward. Beattie combined great physical presence and good hold up play with excellent heading ability. Under Strachan he added more finesse to his game, prompting Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson to compare him to Alan Shearer. Beattie scored a brace in a famous 4-2 win at Chelsea on New Year's Day 2002. He also netted in games against Liverpool, Man United and Newcastle.

Beattie made a slow start to 2002/03, and was sentenced to 100 hours community service in September after being found guilty of drink driving at nearly three times the legal limit. He bounced back on 21st October 2002 to net a penalty in a 1-0 win at Aston Villa in front of the Sky cameras. Six days later he bagged a hatrick in another televised match with Fulham. After netting a penalty against former club Blackburn on 9th November, Beattie scored 6 goals in his next 4 matches, which prompted Saints fans to chant "Same old Beattie, always scoring." The former Blackburn man was particularly lethal from set pieces. He never once missed a penalty in his long spell on the south coast, and also converted a number of long range free kicks.

Beattie played in a key role in helping Saints to the FA Cup final in 2003. He formed a terrific understanding with strike partner Brett Ormerod, who complemented him perfectly. Brett did a lot of unselfish running, which allowed James most of the glory. He scored against his old boss Glenn Hoddle in the league and cup, as Saints thumped Spurs 4-0 in January. He also netted high quality goals against West Brom and Sunderland before the season was out. On February 12th 2003 Beattie's form was rewarded with a first full international cap in a 3-1 defeat to Australia at Upton Park. He would go on to play for England 5 times, but failed to score. To be fair to Beattie he was never afforded much in the way of good service from his international teammates.

Beattie continued to excel for Saints during 2003/04. He helped the club to 4th place in December 2003 with some good early season form. He scored an equaliser in the first day of the season draw at Leicester on 16th August. Beattie also netted the only goal of the game against Manchester United on 31st August 2003, handing the champions their first league defeat for months. He hit doubles against Wolves and Tottenham in September. The brace at White Hart Lane proved to be particularly sweet, as it cost Glenn Hoddle his job. Beattie endeared himself to Saints fans even further in December when he scored twice in a 2-0 League Cup win over local rivals Portsmouth. After the first goal, Beatts turned to the Pompey fans in the Northam stand and raised his finger to his ear. He scored against Portsmouth yet again a few weeks later to seal a comfortable 3-0 win in the league. Beattie then entered a bit of a goalscoring drought, and ironically improved following the departure of mentor Gordon Strachan. He got goals in wins over Liverpool, Wolves and Manchester City, forming a good partnership with Kevin Phillips.

There was speculation throughout the summer of 2004 that Beattie would be on his way out of St Marys. Paul Sturrock, who took over as manager the previous March reportedly had a difficult relationship with a number of senior players, including Beattie. James met with Aston Villa's David O'Leary to discuss a move that never came off. As a result the Villa boss was later charged with making an illegal approach. Beattie's form hit a dip as a result of the speculation. The powerful forward also suffered a number of minor injuries. He scored a winning penalty in the second match of the season against Blackburn on 21st August and then lobbed Chelsea keeper Petr Cech just seconds into a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge. He added one more goal against Norwich on 20th November, before making his final appearance in a Saints shirt on 26th December 2004.

On January 5th 2005 Beattie signed for David Moyes's Everton for £6,000,000. He made his debut for the Toffees on January 8th 2005 in a 3-1 win over Plymouth in the FA Cup. His first goal came in a 3-0 win over Sunderland on 29th January. 8 days later Beattie scored the opener against former club Southampton in a 2-2 draw at St Marys. He was sent off for head butting Chelsea's William Gallas on February 12th 2005. He never really recovered after returning from his three game suspension, with David Moyes losing confidence in the former Saints man. Beattie did ok during 2005/06, but never reached the level of performances he had shown previously. He scored in Everton's Champions League Qualifying defeat to Villarreal on 9th August and also in wins against Arsenal, Blackburn and Fulham. Beattie had a miserable time of it during 2006/07, making most of his appearances from the bench. He scored just twice all season, against Wigan and Sheffield United.

On 4th August 2007 Beattie made the surprise decision to drop a division and sign for Sheffield United. He enjoyed a hugely successful spell at Bramall Lane, and ended the campaign at the division's joint second top goal scorer. He netted 22 during 2007/08, helping the Blades to a 9th place finish. His first came on his debut in a 2-2 draw with Colchester on 11th August. Beattie also netted a hatrick in a 3-0 win over Leicester on 5th April 2008. He continued to bang them in during the first half of the 2008/09 season, which earned him a move back to the Premiership in January 2009.

Beattie signed for Stoke City on 13th January 2009. He made his debut in a 2-1 against Chelsea on January 17th, and scored his first goal for the Potters ten days later against Tottenham. Beattie netted in wins against Manchester City, Bolton, West Brom and Wigan and also nabbed a brace in a 2-2 draw against old foes Portsmouth to secure a comfortable survival for Stoke. Beattie fell out of favour with Stoke boss Tony Pulis in December 2009 after the two came to blows in a bizarre post match confrontation in which both men were naked. He was only a bit part player at the Britannia Stadium during 2010.

On 13th August 2010 Beattie signed for Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers. He made his Gers debut the next day in a 2-1 win over Kilmarnock. Beattie was considered a massive disappointment at Ibrox, and dropped to the bench just months after signing. He failed to find the net a single time before joining Blackpool on loan in January 2011. Once again Beattie struggled for form however, and looked out of sorts as the Tangerines were relegated from the Premier League. On August 31st Beattie had his contract terminated by Rangers.

In September 2011 Beattie stated publicly his desire to return to Southampton. A move was always unlikely however with the club not keen on someone who most likely would struggle to fit into Nigel Adkins's set up. In November 2011 he began training with Bournemouth, before re-joining Sheffield United on a short term deal later that month. Beattie featured in 19 matches for the Blades during 2011/12, mostly from the bench. He contributed very little, and was sent off twice, including once against Exeter on the final day.

In November 2012 Beattie signed for Accrington Stanley on a free transfer. He ended a long goal drought in his second outing, a 3-1 win at Fleetwood. Beattie scored a further six goals, helping Stanley in their successful battle against League 2 relegation.

Beattie was appointed first team manager of Accrington Stanley in May 2013.