10 Things you need to know about England's Jimmy Bullard
Published 12:08 05/09/08 By By Dan Silver, Mirror.co.uk
Jimmy Bullard earned a surprise call-up to Fabio Capello's England squad for the imminent World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia. Here's your essential need to know about one of the Premier League's best loved late bloomers:
1) James Richard Bullard was born on October 23rd, 1978 in Newham, East London. Unsurprisingly, he grew up as a West Ham fan.
2) He started his football career at non-league sides Corinthians and Gravesend & Northfleet but secured a dream move to Upton Park in 1999, when Harry Redknapp snapped him up for the princely sum of £30k.
3) He failed to break into the Hammers' first team, and was released in 2001. Bullard was subsequently picked up by League One side Peterborough, where he became something of a star, scoring 11 goals in 62 league starts.
4) He became a cult figure at Wigan after signing for £275k in 2003. As well as being an integral part of the side that won promotion to the Premier League in the 2004/05 season, Bullard also established himself as one of the club's more colourful characters. Sky show Soccer AM in particular picked up on his lighthearted approach to the game, making regular features out of incidents like this botched attempt to keep a straight face in a TV interview:
5) The high jinx continued during Wigan's first ever Premier League campaign, during which he was a near ever-present. He famously ran the length of the pitch to try and score a goal when Wigan's home leg of the League Cup semi-final against Arsenal was stopped due to a floodlight failure. Jimmy also gained notoriety for this confrontation with Everton hard-man Duncan Ferguson:
6) Fulham took advantage of a £2.5m release clause in his Wigan contract to sign Bullard at the end of the 2005/06 season. He scored two goals in his first three games, including this stunning free kick against Sheffield United that led to then manager Chris Coleman describing him as "the best £2m we ever spent":
7) Four games into his Cottagers' career, though, he suffered a severe cruciate ligament injury during a league game against Newcastle at St James' Park that kept him out for nine months.
8) He returned to the side in January 2008 and helped inspire Fulham to the infamous Great Escape that saved their Premier League status last season. He scored a crucial free-kick to secure a point away at Blackburn and provided the cross for Danny Murphy's crucial final day winner against Portsmouth.
9) He's a keen fly fisherman, and developed his skills while recuperating from that horror injury. In January 2007 he won a carp competition at Gold Valley Lakes near Aldershot an 87lb 6oz haul, and was even signed up by Super League fishing champs Dorking. Jimmy's not bad on the golf course either. He's a member of Wentworth and plays off scratch!
10) He earned his first England call-up this week, but if he doesn't play against Andorra or Croatia, then all is not lost. Jimmy has a German grandmother and is eligible to play for their national side. Mein Gott!
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