England International Defender Seeks Fresh Start, Leeds Would be Ideal – by Rob Atkinson


Steven Caulker, England cap

What do you do if you’re an ambitious Championship club with a thrifty approach to recruitment – and an English international central defender aged just 26 suddenly becomes available, and for nowt? Why, you snap him up, of course, if you’ve not been trampled flat in the rush. Players of this quality normally command 8 figure fees, but here we have a lad in Steven Caulker who is looking for a fresh start after facing up to issues with his mental health, allied to gambling and alcohol problems. His most recent employers, Queens Park Rangers, have just released him, so he is currently without a club. Caulker is currently occupying what the professionals term, with some feeling, last chance saloon. He needs someone to show some faith in him, and he needs the best possible care and rehabilitation. For the club willing to take a calculated risk, a diamond of a player is waiting to be rescued.

For several reasons, not all of them football-related, I’d love to see my club Leeds United be the one to make this move and show this faith. It would be a dreadful shame for football and for the lad himself, if such a promising career were to be allowed to fizzle out. You’d worry for Caulker, in the long and barren future ahead, and you’d wonder if the game itself was perhaps derelict in its duty to look out for a young man battling with personal demons that have ruined so many young men before.

At Elland Road, there’d be a unique challenge waiting for Steven Caulker – if the club wish to offer him the chance, and if he’s prepared to get in, get his head down, and resurrect his career and his chances of life-affirming success. It’s not too late for Caulker; he just needs that chance. I’d like to think that Leeds United are progressive enough to reach out and provide the support and faith needed.

It’s common knowledge that Leeds could do with some strengthening of the defensive ranks; Kyle Bartley is still much missed and, despite the sterling performances of Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper, a player of Caulker’s quality would represent an improvement in United’s rearguard. The lad was on loan at Liverpool not so long back, and was brought up at Tottenham; his pedigree is indisputable. Coming to the end of the road at QPR does not mean he’s a busted flush; some club is likely to benefit from the renaissance of a major talent, should the requisite support and understanding be available.

Let that club be Leeds United. In doing some real good for a troubled player, they may well do themselves a power of good too. And all for nothing more than wages. 

That’s got to represent a good deal, even up here in Yorkshire. And a chance surely well worth taking. 

10 responses to “England International Defender Seeks Fresh Start, Leeds Would be Ideal – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Rob,
    always follow the blogs ! absolutely admirable sentiments,echo’s of paul gascoigne, and very very sad when talent goes awry, i hope he’s been given every kind of support and help.But and there is always a but in these cases…..it would be a big big risk?…..perhaps we should look to home and give a chance to Paudie O’connor or Conor Shaughnessy?


    • There would be a risk, but there’s a chance to serve the greater good here too. The financial outlay needn’t be massive, perhaps the lad could be on some sort of incentivised deal, or pay as you play after a certain training/treatment period. A lot depends on whether Caulker himself feels up for the challenge – is he actually looking for a new start at a new club? But if he is, then where better than Leeds for a major talent to re-emerge?


  2. Philip of Spain.

    Everything to gain and nothing to be lost,why not.!


  3. We took the risk on Cantona.


  4. Life is LUFC

    I wonder if he would consider a non player role but utilise his skills with the youth teams. It could be the high profile life was what pushed him down that lonely road.
    If a club could take him on those terms and give him all the training that it required for the job it is then another win win for all concerned and that lad comes out of it all the better.
    I really hope football can do something to help him after all football has taken much from him. If you should read this blog young man I for one wish you all the good luck in the world and if LUFC can help so much the better.


  5. Reality Cheque

    Having worked in the “substance misuse and dependence” field for many years I have witnessed many examples of both successful outcomes and not so successful outcomes. Sadly, the staggering wages and celebrity status of our modern day young players creates its own pressures and pitfalls. The most publicly aired examples are Gazza, George Best and Paul Merson, the latter proving that there is hope for recovery.
    I know little more about Caulker’s “demons” than what your article has enlightened us about so it is difficult to assess the level of risk involved in signing this young talent. At the end of the day it all depends on whether or not he himself feels motivated to “get better” and to realise his true potential.
    I wish him and all his family, friends and everyone providing support every success in enabling his recovery. ALAW


  6. Mr Rearguard

    Thing is though, the beer in Yorkshire is really nice and this might prove too hard for the fella to resist? Are you not Mr Atkinson rather pally with Norman Hunter? Tell him to have a word with the current boss with regards to the availability of this English international Steven Caulker.
    Happy New Year.


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