Stephen Crainey

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Stephen Crainey is a Scottish left back who also occasionally operates in the centre of defence. He was born in Glasgow on 22nd June 1981. Crainey began his career with Celtic, making his debut on 11th March 2000 in a 4-1 win over St Johnstone. The youngster scored his first goal for the club on November 1st 2000 in a 5-2 League Cup win at Hearts. He made just four more appearances that season however. The following two campaigns Crainey featured more frequently, and even represented Celtic in European competition. He showed plenty of promise, although he was never entirely suited to Martin O'Neill's 3-5-2 system. He won his first full international cap on 27th March 2002 in a 5-0 defeat to France.

On 6th February 2004 Crainey became Gordon Strachan's last Southampton signing. He made his debut four days later in a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal. Crainey then went down with a groin injury that kept him out of the side for a number of weeks. He returned on March 21st for the 1-0 defeat at Portsmouth, and put in a disappointing display. Crainey made just three more appearances for Saints, but was largely unconvincing.

In August 2004 Crainey signed for freshly relegated Championship side Leeds United. He made a reasonable start after making his debut in a 0-0 draw with Wolves on August 2004, but missed most of the season after suffering an injury in early October. He returned to form the following campaign, helping Leeds reaching the play-offs. He was sent off in the second leg of the semi-final win at Preston on 8th May 2006, which meant he missed the final defeat to Watford through suspension. Crainey's form declined during 2006/07. After a poor start the Scot was dropped from the team shortly after Dennis Wise replaced Kevin Blackwell as manager. He didn't make a single appearance after January 2007 as Leeds were relegated to League 1.

Crainey signed for Blackpool in July 2007. He helped the newly promoted Championship side score a 1-0 win at Leicester in his debut on August 11th. Crainey scored his first goal for the club on September 18th 2007 in a 2-2 draw with Sheffield United. He helped The Seasiders beat the drop, and was named Blackpool's player of the year for 2007/08. Crainey missed the first half of 2008/09, returning in January to help the club survive in the Championship again.

In 2009/10 Crainey experienced one of the best seasons in his career, helping Blackpool reach the Premiership through the play-offs. Despite the clubs's relegation back to the Championship, Crainey performed much better for Blackpool in the top flight than he had done previously for Southampton. In July 2011 he signed a new three year contract with the Bloomfield Road outfit, reportedly turning down an offer to join Wigan.