Croft training with Derby County in 2011
|Full name||Lee David Croft|
|Date of birth||21 June 1985|
|Place of birth||Billinge Higher End, Wigan, Greater Manchester|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|2004–2005||→ Oldham Athletic (loan)||12||(0)|
|2010–2011||→ Huddersfield Town (loan)||3||(0)|
|2012||→ St Johnstone (loan)||11||(3)|
|2012–2013||→ Oldham Athletic (loan)||29||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 01:33, 17 February 2016 (UTC).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 30 August 2010 (GMT)
He has previously played for Manchester City, Norwich City, Derby County, Huddersfield Town and Oldham Athletic. He also appears on Soccer AM as "Lee Croft, Story Teller", telling stories that end with the catch phrase "You can't handle the truth!"
- 1 Club career
- 2 International career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Notes
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Born in Billinge Higher End in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, Greater Manchester, Croft began his career at Manchester City, who he joined as a 12-year-old after scout Eric Mullenden spotted him playing for junior team Garswood United. He was a talented youth player, representing England at every level up to under-20, including captaining England under-18s. Accumulating more than 40 caps in total, he is the most capped England youth player of all-time. At club level, he was part of the Manchester City youth team which reached the semi-finals of the 2003 FA Youth Cup.
He made his first team debut for City on 7 March 2005 against Bolton Wanderers, coming on as a substitute in Kevin Keegan's final game as City manager, and made a further six substitute appearances that season. In April 2005 he signed a one-year contract extension. Croft was a regular substitute at the start of the 2005–06 season. His first English Premier League start came on 31 October 2005 against Aston Villa, and his first Manchester City goal came a week later in a match against Fulham. He also started the next two matches, but this run of four matches was to be the only period Croft formed part of the Manchester City starting eleven. He was a frequent substitute in the remainder of the season, finishing with campaign with 25 appearances, 21 of these as a substitute.
Oldham Athletic (loan)
Croft turned professional aged seventeen, but did not break into the first team straight away. In November 2004 Croft went to Oldham Athletic on loan to gain first-team experience. He made his senior debut on 14 November 2004 in an FA Cup tie against Thurrock, in which he won his side a penalty. He made his League debut the following week against Barnsley. Later that month a Football League Trophy match against Hartlepool United brought his first senior goal. An FA Cup third round draw between Oldham and Manchester City raised the possibility of Croft facing his employers as an opposing player, but competition rules prevented him from doing so. Croft's loan spell lasted three months, in which he made seventeen Oldham appearances and scored two goals.
Croft continued his good start at Carrow Road with another goal in the 5–1 demolition of Barnsley on 26 August 2006 and was seen by many City fans as providing balance to the team on the right-hand side that had been missing for some time. On 28 October 2006, however, it was announced that Croft would be absent from first team duties for a possible 6 weeks following an injury during Norwich's 5–0 defeat at Stoke City. After making his return from injury, Croft went for a long period without scoring, but finally got on the scoresheet with a goal in another game against Barnsley at Oakwell on 3 March 2007. In the 2008–09 season, Croft became a key player for the side, and scored in the East Anglian derby match against Ipswich Town in December 2008 and went on to be voted the club's player of the season.
After Norwich City's relegation Croft decided against signing a new contract, which alerted Derby County manager Nigel Clough. After entering into negotiations with Derby, Croft was released early from his contract by mutual consent. Croft signed for Derby on a three-year contract on 25 June 4 days after his 24th birthday. As clubs who sign players under the age of 24 who move between clubs on a free transfer have to pay compensation to the player's former club, by waiting until Croft turned 24, Derby avoided paying compensation to Norwich.
After making his debut in a 2–1 home win over Peterborough United on 8 March 2009, Croft played a part in 13 of Derby's first 15 league fixtures and scored his first for the club in a 3–0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday on 3 October 2009. However, as Derby struggled in the league Croft was unable to keep his place in the side as he struggled for form and this, alongside a hamstring injury suffered in late February 2010, saw Croft make only three appearances in the final 6 months of the campaign. Of Croft, Derby manager Nigel Clough said "He is on the fringe of the squad and at the moment and given the way he is sort of playing, we can't see him getting back involved. You get in the team on merit and there are quite a few players ahead of him."
Huddersfield Town (loan)
After just one appearance in 2010 for Derby, Croft moved to Huddersfield Town on a six-month loan deal ahead of the 2010–11 season. He made his Terriers debut as a substitute in the 4–2 loss against Peterborough United at London Road Stadium on 21 August 2010 before making his full debut in a 5–1 defeat at Everton in the League Cup. He got his first ever career red card on 9 October away at Colchester United, but Huddersfield still managed to win 3–0, and inflict a first league defeat of the season on their opponents. Ahead of his return to his parent club, Derby manager Nigel Clough stated that Croft had no future at Pride Park and that he would look at loaning the player out again in 2011. On the expiration of Croft's initial loan spell at Huddersfield he returned to Derby, Terriers boss Lee Clark stating "Sadly, Lee Croft couldn't achieve the levels I know he can offer. I saw him during my last season with Norwich when he was in sensational form, but during his time with us he wasn't able to reproduce that.
Return to Derby
After failing to make an appearance for the club during the 2010–11 season, Croft vowed to regain his place in the first team ahead of the 2011–12 season after encouragement from Rams manager Nigel Clough. On 19 July 2011, Croft was allocated squad number 22, he was not allocated one during the 2010–11 season. He was in the starting line-up as Derby's first three games of the season (Championship victories over Birmingham City and Watford sandwiching a League Cup home defeat to Shrewsbury Town) before dropping to the bench for the club's subsequent fixtures and then eventually losing his place in the matchday 16 as Clough switched to a formation without wide players.
St Johnstone (loan)
As a result, Croft loaned out to Scottish Premier League side St Johnstone until the end of 2011–12 season in January 2012. Croft scored 3 times in 13 appearances for St Johnstone before being ruled out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury on 15 April 2012, Croft had hoped to return to the team despite being ruled out for 6 weeks. On 16 April 2012, Croft was told that he was allowed to leave Derby in the summer, despite having a year left on his contract with St Johnstone expressing an interest to extend Croft's stay McDiarmid Park. Derby manager Nigel Clough, Croft was looking at his options for the 2012–13 season and was formally transfer listed on 22 May 2012.
Oldham Athletic (loan) and departure from Derby
On 3 July 2012, Croft joined former club Oldham Athletic on loan until the end of the 2012–13 season. Croft featured 35 times during his second loan spell at Latics with 34 start, which made him an ever present however his loan spell was ended on 31 January 2013, when Derby County terminated Croft's contract five months early. Croft's last appearance during this spell was in a 3–2 win against Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th round.
Croft re-signed for Oldham Athletic on 1 February 2013, on a contract until the end of the 2012–13 season.
On 24 May 2013 it was announced that Lee Croft was to leave Latics having rejected a contract offered by the club. This was at the end of a successful season-long spell which resulted in Croft winning the Fans Player of the Season award and playing in 53 out of Oldham's 54 games in all competitions.
Croft has represented England at Under-16, Under-17, Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 youth international levels, including captaining the Under-18 team. He played in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, making two appearances for England Under-20 as they finished bottom of Group D.
Croft had been dating The Only Way Is Essex actress Maria Fowler from October 2011, however the pair split in April 2012 with Croft saying he needed "time on his own". The couple had plans for a baby and marriage.
On 14 October 2012, Croft was the subject of a police investigation after he was accused of racially abusing a black ball boy. Croft admitted he "spoke inappropriately" to the boy and apologised. However it quickly transpired that "there was no accusation whatsoever from the ball boy of racist abuse", who accepted Croft's apology; Croft said that the false allegations (from those who did not witness the incident) damaged anti-racism efforts.
- A. ^ Soccerbase's stats for the match between Nottingham Forest and Derby County on 17 September 2011 count a substitute appearance made by Croft, however it should be credited to Russell Anderson. Therefore, until and unless they correct it, he should have one less appearance for Derby than given on his Soccerbase page.
- Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2010). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2010–11. Mainstream Publishing. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-84596-601-0.
- "Lee Croft, Story Teller". Retrieved 14 January 2010.
- "Lee Croft, Story Teller". Retrieved 14 January 2010.
- "Croft stops Keegan feeling blue". The FA. Retrieved 25 September 2007.[dead link]
- "Starlet Lee loves life with Latics". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
- "Keegan looks to next generation". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- "Introducing the U20s". The FA. Retrieved 25 September 2007.[dead link]
- "Croft stays with City". Sky Sports. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
- "FA Youth Cup Final dates set". The FA. Retrieved 25 September 2007.[dead link]
- "Fulham 2–1 Man City". BBC News. 5 November 2005.
- "Oldham snap up Croft on loan". BBC Sport. 10 November 2004. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
- "Oldham 3–1 Hartlepool". BBC. 30 November 2004. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
- "Cup heartbreak for Croft". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- "Croft lengthens Oldham loan deal". BBC Sport. 17 January 2005. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
- "Croft completes Norwich transfer". BBC Sport. 31 July 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
- "Norwich hit by Croft injury blow". BBC Sport. 30 October 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
- "Croft ready for Norwich comeback". BBC Sport. 12 December 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
- "Rams chase out-of-contract Croft". BBC Sport. 8 May 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
- "Croft departs relegated Norwich". BBC Sport. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
- "Winger Croft completes free transfer to Rams". Derby Telegraph. 25 June 2009.
- "Derby County: Croft's move is set to be sealed next week". Derby Telegraph. 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
- "Derby 2–1 Peterborough". BBC News. 8 August 2009.
- "Derby 3–0 Sheff Wed". BBC News. 3 October 2009.
- "Croft struggling at Pride Park". Team Talk. 1 April 2010. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012.
- "Rams winger Lee told to battle for a place". Derby Evening Telegraph. 1 April 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- "Croft heading to Huddersfield". Derby County F.C. 30 June 2010.
- "Striker Steve is hoping to play a bigger part this year after his injury blues". thisisderbyshire. 1 January 2011.
- "HTFC – Garner and Croft – Head home". Vital Football. 3 January 2011.
- "Croft Derby County's Lee Croft eager to make up for lost time". BBC Sport. 11 July 2011.
- "Squad Numbers Confirmed". Derby County F.C. 19 July 2011.
- "Lee Croft and Jack Compton join St Johnstone on loan". BBC Sport. 18 January 2012.
- "Lee Croft hopes to play again for St Johnstone this season". BBC Sport. 15 April 2012.
- "Addison & Croft set to leave Derby County in summer". BBC Sport. 16 April 2012.
- "Clough Confirms Davies Could Leave". Derby County F.C. 22 May 2012.
- "Croft Seals Loan Move to Oldham Athletic". Derby County F.C. 3 July 2012.
- "Derby Cancel Croft Contract". Derby County F.C. 31 January 2013.
- "Oldham 3–2 Liverpool". BBC Sport. 27 January 2013.
- "Lee Croft signs Oldham deal after Derby release winger". BBC Sport. BBC. 1 February 2013.
- "St Johnstone: Lee Croft joins until the end of the season". BBC Sport. BBC. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- "St Johnstone 2-0 Dundee United". BBC Sport. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
- "Lee Croft: Oldham agree deal for St Johnstone midfielder". BBC Sport. BBC. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
- "Robinson: "It Was Pleasing For 60 Minutes."". Oldham Athletic. 17 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- "Meet the parent: TOWIE's Maria Fowler takes her mum along for theatre date with Lee Croft". Daily Mail. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- "'I am hurting so much': Maria Fowler reveals her devastation as she splits from footballer boyfriend Lee Croft". Daily Mail. 25 April 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- "Oldham's Lee Croft denies he racially abused ball boy". BBC Sport. 14 October 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- "Lee Croft: Racism allegations against Oldham player "unfounded"". BBC Sport. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- "Oldham's Lee Croft says ball boy case damages anti-racism drive". BBC Sport. 28 October 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- "Nottm Forest 1–2 Derby County". Derby County F.C. 17 September 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
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