Connolly pictured in 2008
|Full name||Paul Connolly|
|Date of birth||29 September 1983|
|Place of birth||Liverpool, England|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Playing position||Right back|
|2002||→ Bideford (loan)||1||(0)|
|2010||→ Sheffield United (loan)||7||(0)|
|2012||→ Portsmouth (loan)||4||(0)|
|2013||→ Preston North End (loan)||15||(0)|
|2016–||Airbus UK Broughton||12||(0)|
|2016–2017||→ Bangor City (loan)||4||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 19:03, 19 November 2016 (UTC).
Paul Connolly (born 29 September 1983) is an English professional footballer who plays as a right back for Bangor City of the Welsh Premier League. He has played in the Football League for Plymouth Argyle, Derby County, Sheffield United, Leeds United, Portsmouth, Preston North End, Millwall, Crawley Town and Luton Town.
Connolly came through the youth ranks at Plymouth Argyle, and made his league debut in the final game of the 2000–01 season. Connolly was a first team regular from 2003 onwards, helping the team to gain promotion to the First Division in 2003–04. He scored his first and only goal for Plymouth against Norwich on 10 November 2007.
Connolly's contract expired at the end of the 2007–08 season, and on 15 May 2008 he moved to Derby County on a free transfer. Connolly later revealed that "I was becoming stale, it's a lovely part of the world [Plymouth] but it's time to move on, the enjoyment was going... I left because I felt I was losing that edge, I've been in a comfort zone."
Connolly made his Derby debut as a substitute in an opening day home defeat to Doncaster Rovers. Despite initial being kept out of the starting line-up by Tyrone Mears, the latter's move to Marseille on loan ensure Connolly became the club's first choice right back and, later appointed team captain by manager Paul Jewell. He finished the season with 49 league and cup appearances, only behind Rob Hulse in terms of most appearances for the club during the 2008–09 campaign and scored one goal – a last minute header to equalise in a 1–1 draw with Burnley on 4 April. Connolly made his 200th career league appearance three weeks later in a 2–0 home defeat against Reading.
In August 2009, Robbie Savage was appointed Derby Captain by Nigel Clough, who had replaced Paul Jewell after he had resigned in December 2008. Clough stated that he wanted Connolly to "concentrate on his own game. (He) was quite relieved in some ways because it is a big responsibility, especially when you are at full-back and out of the action.". Although Connolly started the 2009–10 season as first choice right back he eventually fell down the pecking order as Clough deciding to bring in his own players and as a result bought in Premier League rightbacks from Fulham and Bolton Wanderers in the shape of Fredrik Stoor and Nicky Hunt respectively.
Sheffield United loan
To get some games under his belt Connolly joined Sheffield United on a monthlong emergency loan as defensive cover, making his debut the same evening in a 3–0 victory over Blackpool. The loan was initially extended for another week but, with it becoming mathematically impossible for Sheffield United to make the playoffs, he returned to Pride Park after having made seven appearances for The Blades.
Return to Derby
After returning to Derby, Connolly made the bench for the penultimate game of the season against Bristol City, coming on in the second half to make his first appearance in three months. Following the end of the season, Connolly was linked with moves to Leeds United and Sheffield United with Leeds agreeing a 3-year deal with the defender ahead of a medical on 2 June 2010.
On 10 June 2010, Leeds signed Connolly from Derby County on a free transfer. He joined on a three-year contract and was the third arrival of the summer, joining Kasper Schmeichel and Billy Paynter. Delighted United boss Simon Grayson said: "Paul brings plenty of experience and know-how to the squad." Connolly was given the number 2 shirt, displacing Jason Crowe who had previously occupied the shirt number. He made his Leeds debut in the first game of the season against his old club Derby County on 7 August 2010 which ended in a 2–1 defeat. Connolly missed his first game for Leeds when a hamstring injury ruled him out of the game against Doncaster Rovers. Manager Simon Grayson revealed in his pre match press conference against Sheffield United that Connolly would miss the match against Sheffield through injury, and also the matches against Preston and Ipswich. Connolly stepped up his comeback trail when he played for Leeds reserves against Scunthorpe reserves.
Connolly returned to Leeds' starting line-up after injury against Middlesbrough. On 8 January, Connolly helped earn Leeds a 1–1 draw against Arsenal, Leeds were 1–0 up when Robert Snodgrass scored a second half penalty, Arsenal equalised in the 90th minute when Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty. Connolly was ruled out for several games with injury and lost his place in the Leeds side to Eric Lichaj, however once Connolly recovered from injury he returned to the Leeds side and Lichaj was moved to the left back position.
Connolly started for Leeds the opening day of the season as they lost 3–1 against Southampton. Connolly was substituted against Bradford City and his replacement Tom Lees made an impressive impact, which meant that Connolly was dropped for the following matches.
After a spell out of the squad, Connolly returned to Leeds' starting 11 against Portsmouth on 1 October at right back with Tom Lees moving back into the centre back position, Leeds also kept their first clean sheet of the season in the same game. Connolly was sent off in Leeds' 2–0 defeat against Watford on 31 March 2012.
He was transfer listed by Neil Warnock at the end of the 2011–12 season. Connolly was allocated the number 24 shirt for the 2012–13 season on 3 August after previously having squad number 2 which means connolly may still have a future in the team.
On 12 September 2013, Connolly joined Championship side Millwall on a short-term deal running until January 2014. Two days later, on 14 September 2013, Connolly made his debut, playing in the right-back, in a 5–1 loss against Derby County. However, his time at Millwall was marred with injury and after five months at the club, Connolly was released by the club.
In a match against Brentford, on 8 April 2014, Connolly was involved with an incident the opposition supporter and slapped the supporter. The incident led The FA investigate the incident. Connolly was charged by the FA and received a five match ban suspension, which kept him for the reminder of the season. At the end of the 2013–14 season, Connolly was among eleven players to be released by the club.
On 5 July 2014 Connolly signed for League Two club Luton Town on a one-year contract. He played in only six games in all competitions for the club, struggling with fitness and injuries throughout the season. He was released early from his contract in April 2015.
- Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2007). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2007–08. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing. p. 89. ISBN 978-1-84596-246-3.
- "Connolly pens new Plymouth deal". BBC Sport. 6 November 2006. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
- "Plymouth 3–0 Norwich". BBC Sport. 10 November 2007. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
- "Derby snap up Plymouth defender". BBC Sport. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 15 May 2008.
- BBC Sport (20 June 2008). "Connolly targets Premier League". BBC News. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
- "Derby 1–1 Burnley". BBC. 4 April 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2010.
- "Switch of skipper will aid Connolly". Derby Evening Telegraph. 19 August 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- "Blades bring in Connolly". Sheffield United F.C. 16 March 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "Connolly wanted by Leeds". therams.co.uk. 25 May 2010. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- "Connolly's move to Leeds is set to be completed this week". Derby Telegraph. 2 June 2010.
- "United complete defender signing". leedsunited.co.uk. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- "McCartney will strengthen Leeds – Grayson". BBC News. 23 September 2010.
- "Leeds 0–1 Middlesbrough". BBC Sport. 13 August 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
- "Pugh Goal Sinks Pompey". Leeds United A.F.C. 1 October 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
- "United Lose Out at Home". Leeds United A.F.C. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Eleven Told They Can Go". Leeds United A.F.C. 2 May 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "New squad numbers announced". Leeds United A.F.C. 3 August 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- "DEFENDER JOINS POMPEY IN LOAN DEAL". Leeds United A.F.C. 18 August 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- "Preston North End sign Paul Connolly on loan from Leeds". BBC Sport. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- "10 PLAYERS NOT OFFERED NEW DEALS". Leeds United Official Website. 3 May 2013.
- "Transfer news: New York Red Bulls keen on former Leeds defender Paul Connolly". Sky Sports. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "Connolly clinched". Millwall Football Club Official Website. 12 September 2013. Archived from the original on 15 September 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "Millwall 1-5 Derby". BBC Sport. 14 September 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "Paul Connolly of Millwall out with injury". Daily Star. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "Right-back Paul Connolly has left Millwall after his contract at The Den expired yesterday". Millwall Official Website. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "Connolly joins Reds". Crawley Town FC. 18 February 2014.
- "League One: FA probes incident between Crawley Town player and Bees fan". Sky Sports. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "Paul Connolly: Crawley defender charged after Brentford incident". BBC Sport. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "Paul Connolly hit with five-match ban for violent conduct after slapping Brentford fan". Daily Mail. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "New offers made to four players". Crawley Town Official Website. 5 May 2014. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "Paul Connolly: Luton sign ex-Millwall and Crawley defender". BBC Sport. 5 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
- "Still blames injuries and a lack of fitness for Connolly's departure". BBC Sport. 10 April 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.