I know that last week that I said we were going to head to Central America, but I got a tiny bit distracted and floated off into the North Atlantic Ocean instead. Bermuda is an exotic holiday location that should make you think more of palm trees and spiced rum than professional football. Nevertheless, here are two players who journeyed across the ocean and into the top flight.
Famed for being the northernmost point of the Bermuda Triangle, which could account for a lot of great footballing talent that goes missing from the island, Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory situated off the east coast of America. This means that ‘God Save the Queen’ is the official national anthem, but in my personal option, ‘All the Bermudians’ is much more worthy of that title. Bermudians are natural athletes, see Dwayne Leverock’s catch in the 2007 World Cup for any cricket fans out there, but their footballing abilities certainly do not reflect this. They currently lie at 184th in the FIFA rankings, which is lower than any other country so far in this series. Since their formation, they have not competed in any World, CONCACAF, or even Caribbean Cups. In fact, their best performance at a competition was when they won the Men’s football section of the Island Games in 2007. Here, their footballing prowess showed, as they overcame Greenland, the Falkland Islands and Frøya (I have no idea either), to take the crown on their own soil. There hasn’t been a Bermuda representative in the Premier League since 2003, but let’s see what they’ve sent.
Kyle Lightbourne (Coventry City 1997-98)
To anyone under the age of 20, yes, Coventry City did use to play in the top flight during the Premier League era. Following a prolific spell at Walsall, where he scored 65 goals in 165 matches, Kevin Lightbourne helped his side gain promotion as they finished second in the Third Division. This had earned him a lucrative Premier League move to the Sky Blues. The striker joined Coventry for a fee of £500,000 but sadly his tenure was extremely short lived. He gained a reputation as a true journeyman of English football as he ended up playing for nine clubs during his 11-year stay in the country. He struggled to make any impact while at Coventry and made just seven league appearances while with the club.
He’ll be best remembered in this country for helping Stoke City win the prestigious Auto Windscreens Shield in 2000. Sadly, that season he just missed out on promotion back to the Premier League, as his side lost to Gillingham in the playoff final. Lightbourne also spent three years with Macclesfield Town, but in 2003, after achieving everything that was possible in England, he returned home to the club where he played as a youth, PHC Zebras. Since retiring, he has turned his hand to managing and is currently the boss of Robin Hood FC, a real team in Bermuda unless Wikipedia is completely making a fool out of me. Their home ground is apparently called Goose Gosling Field which further adds to my suspicions that I’m being lied to.
Lightbourne is the second most capped player in Bermuda history and scored 16 goals during those 40 games. He also managed to represent his country playing international cricket, where he proved himself as a handy bowler.
Shaun Goater (Manchester City 2000-03)
There are many arguments over who is this greatest of all time, is it Messi or Ronaldo? The truth is there can be only one, and that is the GOAT himself, Shaun Goater, or to give him his proper title, Shaun Goater MBE. After playing for Manchester United as a youth, Goater never managed to break into the first team and ended up looking to further his career elsewhere. He suffered severe homesickness during his early years in England due to the climate and a lack of sandy beaches in Manchester. Known in certain circles as “the Bermuda of the north”, Rotherham was the obvious choice of destination for Goater. There he found himself and stayed for eight years, playing over 200 times in the process. Like Lightbourne, he too picked up an Auto Windscreens Shield winner’s medal, but his came in 1996.
Following that success, he joined Bristol City. Despite receiving offers from overseas, the Bermudian had decided to stay put in the country he had previously hated, mainly due to his recent wedding. While at Bristol he scored 40 league goals at a rate of more than one in every two matches. When he joined Manchester City in 1998 they were on the brink of relegation and Goater eventually started his first full season for his former rivals, in the third tier of English football. From there on the Goat became a fans favourite as he scored goals for fun and helped City win back-to-back promotions. Despite being top scorer for the third campaign running, Goater’s first season in the Premier League wasn’t successful as his team were relegated straight back down. This didn’t deter him though as promotion was back on the cards as he netted 30 times to win promotion again, as City managed to yo-yo their way back up. Goater was now top scorer for the fourth consecutive season. After two signings of high-profile strikers, Nicholas Anelka and Jon Macken, Goater was on his way out of the club. One of his final acts for the club was scoring the fastest substitute goal in Premier League history after just nine seconds against arch rivals, United. He captained Manchester City in their final ever game at Maine Road, which just goes to show how much he means to the history of the club.
Goater is the all-time top scorer for Bermuda with an astonishing 32 goals in just 36 appearances. He has also been granted freedom of the island, with June 21st being officially declared “Shaun Goater Day”. The chasm in ability between himself and his international teammates was plain for all to see. He was quoted as saying that playing international football was like “being on holiday” because the team just ate whatever they fancied. He said that he tried to keep his “professional diet for about two or three weeks until peer pressure took over.”
I normally like to end by dropping a little teaser as to what’s going to come next week. However, as we’ve seen this time around it doesn’t always ring true, so I’ll just end by saying this…I’ll pick wherever I fancy.