|Full name||Leonard Shaun Goater|
|Date of birth||25 February 1970|
|Place of birth||Hamilton, Bermuda|
|Height||1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|1993||→ Notts County (loan)||1||(0)|
|2005||→ Coventry City (loan)||6||(0)|
|2008–2010||North Village Rams||7||(1)|
|2008–2013||North Village Rams|
|2015||New Mills (assistant manager)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Leonard Shaun Goater, MBE (born 25 February 1970) is a Bermudian former footballer. He played as a striker for a number of English clubs in the 1990s and 2000s. Until its desolation in 2017, he was the manager of Ilkeston.
Goater's first professional club was Manchester United, but he did not reach the first team, making his League debut in 1989 after moving to Rotherham United. He played for Rotherham for seven years before moving to Bristol City in 1996. Two years later he moved to Manchester City for a fee of £400,000.
He is most well known for his time at Manchester City, where he scored over 100 goals between 1998 and 2003, finishing as the club's top scorer for four consecutive seasons. After leaving City, Goater had spells with Reading, Coventry City and Southend United, before retiring in May 2006. He represented Bermuda 36 times, scoring 32 goals.
Goater was born in the Bermudian capital Hamilton, living with his mother Lynette, his grandmother and two aunts. His introduction to English football came in April 1987 when he was invited to join the Saltus Grammar School football and basketball tour. He spent two weeks playing against various English high school teams, including the Leicester City youth team. At the age of 17, he left home to further his education in the United States, where he had a soccer scholarship at Columbia High School, New Jersey. Whilst home in Bermuda during his Thanksgiving break, Goater was spotted by scouts from Manchester United, who invited him to England for a trial. With encouragement from his mother, who was a former football player herself, Goater accepted, forfeiting his scholarship by doing so. At this time, Goater did not play as a striker, but instead played as a creative midfielder.
Goater's trial resulted in the offer of a professional contract, but he did not break into the first team. In 1989, Goater signed for Rotherham United in order to play first team football. At this time, Goater suffered homesickness, finding it difficult to adapt to the English climate: "It took me a good two years to get used to life in England. At first I thought the sun never shone and it wasn't for me." However, he gradually got used to living in England, and over the course of seven seasons at Rotherham he gained a reputation as a reliable lower division striker, scoring 86 goals in 262 appearances, with a winner's medal for the 1996 Auto Windscreens Shield the highlight. A 1992 League Cup tie against Everton gave Goater his first experience of playing against a Premier League team. In the first leg, Goater scored the only goal of the game as Rotherham won 1–0. However, Everton won the return leg 3–0 and Rotherham were eliminated. In 1993, Goater also had a brief loan spell at Notts County, though he made only one appearance for the Nottingham club due to a work permit problem. Towards the end of the 1995–96 season, Goater had a disagreement with Rotherham manager Archie Gemmill, and decided his future lay elsewhere.
In the 1995–96 close season, Goater received offers from Spanish club Osasuna and newly formed South Koreans Suwon Samsung Bluewings, but having recently married, he decided to stay in England. Shortly after, he moved to Bristol City for a fee of £175,000. Goater's Bristol City debut came against Gillingham. Goater scored, but Bristol City lost 3–2. City finished the season in fifth, qualifying for the playoffs, but lost to Brentford. The following season Bristol City were pushing for promotion into the First Division, and Goater scored regularly, eventually being named in the PFA Team of the Year for the division. In a little under two years with Bristol City, he scored 45 goals in 81 appearances. On 26 March 1998, transfer deadline day, Goater signed for Manchester City, who paid Bristol City £400,000 for his services.
Goater joined Manchester City at a turbulent point in their history, with newly appointed manager Joe Royle battling to save the club from relegation to the Second Division. Goater scored three goals in the seven remaining matches of the 1997–98 season, but this was not enough to prevent the club from being relegated to the third tier of English Football for the first time ever. Fans were initially sceptical as to Goater's ability, but as goals were scored supporters were gradually won over, creating a song in his honour, "Feed The Goat And He Will Score" (to the tune Cwm Rhondda). The 1998–99 season saw Goater score 21 goals, finishing the season as Manchester City's top goalscorer. The last of these was the winning goal in a play-off semi-final against Wigan Athletic, sending Manchester City to Wembley Stadium for a playoff final which saw City promoted after a penalty shootout.
The 1999–2000 season was even more successful for Goater. He was the club's top goal score again, this time with 29 goals, and was named Manchester City's Player of the Year by the supporters after Manchester City were promoted for the second successive year. In the summer, Goater was awarded the freedom of Bermuda, with 21 June declared as "Shaun Goater Day" on the island. The following season, Goater made his first appearance in top flight football at the age of 30, though injury and the presence of new signings Paulo Wanchope and former World Player of the Year George Weah meant he had to wait three months to do so. Again established in the first team, Goater was Manchester City's top goalscorer for the third consecutive season, but his 11 goals could not save the team from relegation.
During the 2000–01 close season, upheaval took place at Manchester City, with manager Royle departing to be replaced by Kevin Keegan. In the 2001–02 season, Goater became the first Manchester City player since Francis Lee in 1972 to score more than 30 goals in a season. City were promoted as champions, and he was the club's top scorer for the fourth time in a row, as well as being the top scorer in the division.
Over the summer of 2001–02, there was speculation that Goater would be transferred, as Manchester City had twice broken their transfer record by buying strikers Jon Macken and Nicolas Anelka. Goater stayed, but opportunities were limited. He started just 14 games, but scored seven goals, including his 100th for the club, which came in a derby match against local rivals Manchester United. In February 2003, Goater struck against the same opposition to score the fastest goal by a substitute in Premier League history, just 9 seconds after coming onto the pitch. He also scored a goal that would have won City the match, but it was disallowed.
Shortly before the end of the 2002–03 season, Goater announced his intention to leave Manchester City when the season finished in order to seek regular first team football. In his final match for Manchester City, he was asked to captain the side in Manchester City's final game at Maine Road. In total, Goater scored 103 goals in 212 appearances for Manchester City. Since ending his footballing career, Goater has been critical of both Kevin Keegan, who he claims never praised him and Nicolas Anelka, who he feels wanted to be 'the daddy' of Manchester City.
Goater moved to Reading on 1 August 2003. Reading chairman John Madejski described the transfer as "the biggest in Reading Football Club's history", but Goater's time there was not a happy one. Shortly after Goater's arrival, Reading manager Alan Pardew left for West Ham United, and Pardew's replacement, Steve Coppell, did not regard Goater as part of his plans. In his second and final season at Reading, Goater played just four times, and was loaned to Coventry City. Goater then considered retirement, but instead moved to League One club Southend United for a final season as a professional. The move, a free transfer, was completed on 3 August 2005. At Southend, Goater acted as a mentor for young striker Freddy Eastwood, and contributed towards a second successive promotion for the Shrimpers, scoring 11 goals. His final appearance before retirement was on 6 May 2006, when Southend played Bristol City, one of Goater's former clubs. The crowd included an estimated 400 Manchester City fans who travelled to Southend to mark the occasion.
Goater and three other partners in the Bermuda-based East End Group Limited announced an amalgamation with Telecommunications Networks Limited (now renamed East End Telecom) on 9 November 2007, which added to the group's two other business subsidiaries, East End Asphalt and East End Aviation. Goater serves as the group's Business Development Manager.
When in England, Goater has made regular appearances in local media covering the Manchester area. These have included a column entitled "Read the Goat" in the official Manchester City match programme, and a regular guest spot on the BBC Radio Manchester programme Blue Tuesday.
Goater has also played for the Bermudian national team 36 times, scoring 32 goals, though due to Bermuda's lowly standing in world football he never played in a major international tournament. He made his first international appearance at the age of 17 against Canada.
During the 1992–93 season, Goater missed eight weeks of the club season in order to represent his country in qualifying for the 1994 World Cup. However, Bermuda finished bottom of a group containing El Salvador, Canada and Jamaica. His final appearance was in June 2004 against El Salvador.
When playing for Bermuda, Goater was often the only professional player in the team. Bermudian journalist Chris Gibbons described the difference between Goater and his teammates: "He's a class above every other player on the island. Before he went to England he was just quick, but now he's a totally different player, a lot more aggressive and a much better header of the ball. The problem has been that he sets up chances for the others without them being on the same wavelength." However, Goater noted that this had a detrimental aspect: "My fitness dropped off while I was with Bermuda. It was like being on holiday. The team just ate what they liked. I kept to my professional diet for about two or three weeks until peer pressure took over."
After retiring, Goater returned to Bermuda, receiving an official welcome from the Premier of Bermuda Alex Scott on his arrival. A week later, Southend played the Bermuda national team in an appreciation game for their former striker. Goater has expressed a wish to enter coaching following his retirement, and studied for the UEFA B coaching licence in 2005. Since 2003, Goater has organised the annual Shaun Goater Grass-roots Soccer Festival, a football coaching event for children in Bermuda. On 14 September 2006, Goater and the United Soccer Leagues announced that Bermuda would receive a professional football team that would play in the third division of American football, the USL Second Division. Goater had roles as both a director and player of the team, the Bermuda Hogges. Goater left Bermuda Hogges in 2008, to concentrate on youth coaching with North Village Rams in his home town.
On 8 August 2015, it was announced that Goater would join Northern Premier League Division One North club New Mills as assistant manager to Andy Fearn. In September 2015, Fearn and Goater resigned from New Mills after nine defeats in nine games.
Goater is married to Anita, his childhood sweetheart, and has two daughters, Amaya and Anais (born 3 October 2000 in Wythenshawe, Manchester). He was awarded the MBE in 2003 for services to sport and young people in Bermuda. His autobiography, Feed the Goat: The Shaun Goater Story was published in September 2006.
- Rotherham United
- Manchester City
- Southend United
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