Journeyman: A worker or sports player who is reliable but not outstanding.
Welcome to part two of the Journeyman XI, where I explore Premier League players past and present who were present year after year, often inexplicably. Last week we signed up Marcus Bent, but who have we got from the vault this week?
Step forward Nigel Francis Quashie. The man tainted by four Premier League relegations, Quashie appeared on and off in the Premier League between 1995 and 2007 for 6 different clubs before drifting into the Football League for a few years until he decided to finish his career in Iceland. The country, not the supermarket. But before we blame Quashie for England’s Euro 2016 exit, how did it come to that?
Up the Loft
Quashie started at QPR, a tidy midfield player who broke into the first team during the 1995/96 season. Rangers were relegated but as Quashie made just 10 league appearances, even the most ridiculous of onlookers couldn’t pin the blame on the 17 year old. In the First Division (now the Championship) Quashie was afforded more game time and could even be deemed promising, to the point where he was a hot prospect on CM97/98 and often got a move to a top Premier League club. In real life, he joined Nottingham Forest.
Platt’s the Way I Like it
Dave (or ‘Harry’, inexplicably) Bassett saw fit to pay £2.5m for Quashie’s services at the start of the 1998/99 season, which was an unmitigated disaster. Forest had gained promotion the previous season but life in the Premier League seemed destined for failure when Kevin Campbell was sold to Trabzonspor and Pierre van Hooijdonk got so upset about it he went on strike for a couple of months. Bassett was sacked in January and Ron Atkinson was brought in, which to the surprise of nobody didn’t help. Quashie made 16 league appearances but Forest were relegated and Big Ron retired. David Platt was appointed, which you would think would be excellent news for a young up and coming central midfielder like Quashie.
In a sign of things to come for David Platt’s managerial career, Forest performed well below expectation but despite personal tragedy, Quashie performed admirably and attracted the attention of then Portsmouth boss Tony Pulis. £800,000 later and Quashie moved to the South Coast.
In Quashie’s third year at Fratton Park, Harry Redknapp led Portsmouth to the Premier League, with big Nige being vice-captain. Importantly, Quashie made 25 Premier League appearances the following season and wasn’t relegated, meaning our hero had back to back seasons of Premier League football for the first time. He also scored his first Premier league goal, a consolation at Leicester which can be seen below if you want to see football when it was played properly. However, Redknapp left for Southampton during 2004/05 and Quashie followed in January 2005. It was a time for switching to your nearest rivals, as at the end of 2003/04 Quashie declared himself available for Scotland despite playing for England’s Under 21 team.
Quashie did in fact score in his second appearance for his new nation in May 2004, to which Berti Vogts uttered “he feels Scottish and that’s great.” Putting this theory into practice, Quashie went on to be relegated with Southampton at the end of the 2004/05 season. But fear not Quashie fans, Nige did score in his sides 1-0 win over Tottenham. You want to see it? Of course you do, and it’s below. Southampton were relegated on the final day, with West Brom pulling off the great escape under the stewardship of Bryan Robson. I am of course telling you that for a reason…
De Ja Vu
Working for an Ex-England captain and central midfielder seems to be a rough omen for Quashie, as he went on to suffer the indignation of Premier League relegation in successive seasons. How you ask? Well, after Harry had left Southampton, George Burley took over, and despite Quashie being club captain, the Scotsman allowed him to move to West Brom in January 2006. Having pulled off the impossible the previous season, Robson decided the best way to go about achieving this again was by signing Quashie due to him having “the experience of relegation fights and playing in the Premiership.” Sadly for Robson only one of those premonitions came true, as West Brom were relegated. It’s not all bad news though, Quashie did score an equaliser for the Baggies in their last visit to Highbury, which can be seen below. (They went on to lose anyway, of course)
It was the same story in the 2006/07 season, where Quashie left Championship WBA in January 2007 to sign for struggling West Ham. Quashie made 8 appearances for the Hammers, without winning a game, before being dropped and, perhaps coincidentally, West Ham going on to survive. Injury ruled Quashie out of the 2007/08 season and after loans at Birmingham and Wolves, Quashie was released in 2010. He went on to have a couple of years as a player/coaching and briefly manager in Iceland, which I’m sure is like the China of today.
This probably comes across as quite unfair to Nigel Quashie, who was often purchased as a midfielder leader, trusted by under pressure managers to try and steel his team and save them from relegation. To have that sort of reputation as a man I think speaks volumes about him and his presence in a dressing room, and although he was relegated numerous times, I think that is down to the circumstances he inherited rather than a lack of ability. Nigel, I salute you. You’ll do a fine job in the centre of our midfield.