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“Wayne Routledge is a bench warming money grabber” Sunday Supplement
Sunday, 11th Apr 2021 10:39 by Keith Haynes

Wayne Routledge has had a long and difficult career at times. When people talk about him they will almost certainly mention his many clubs and lack of goals along the way. Back in 2005 Crystal Palace Chairman Simon Jordan made mention of Wayne and his then pending transfer to Spurs. He didn’t hold back, and didn’t waste too many words either.

It all sort of kicked off when Simon Jordan, someone we admire greatly here at Swansea Independent stated he was particularly unhappy with Routledge. 'Journeyman' appeared in several stories; some recycled an accusation from former Palace chairman Simon Jordan that he was a bench-warming money grabber. This sparked itself in to life when Wayne was a young player at Palace and about to decide on his long term future. A new five year contract was on offer, according to Jordan the most lucrative a young player could have, but it would never be signed. Jordan said 'I told Wayne to stay and learn his trade at Palace, but he grabbed the money, and now he's at Villa not getting in the first team, just like he didn't get in the Spurs team, just like he didn't get in the Portsmouth team and just like he didn't get in the Fulham team.'

Jordan never slow in coming forwards was clearly, even years after Wayne had left Palace still bitter about the way he was allegedly ‘manipulated’ to leave his first club. Routledge began his career at Crystal Palace. He made his debut in the Football League First Division on 31 October 2001, replacing Jovan Kirovski for the last two minutes of a 1–0 home loss to West Bromwich Albion, aged 16 years and 297 days. On 14 September 2002, he scored his first goal in the first minute of his first start, a 4–2 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. A week later, he was sent off in a 3–3 draw at Watford. Jordan knew he had a player on his hands, and must have been delighted.

Let’s be clear here Jordan, who owns property in the Swansea area and is an admirer of Steve Cooper is never far from conflict. Julian Gray when he left Palace for Birmingham City had the same treatment. John Bostock, when he was sixteen was lost as well to Spurs, talent that Jordan felt could develop at Palace. And don’t get Jordan talking about Tim Cahill. He left Palace because of his agent demanding money as a part of a new Palace deal, Jordan refused to pay, Everton did, and you can’t argue Cahill had a more than decent career. You can’t disagree, and yes, it is money that is the main influencer. Without a doubt.

It was reported at the time (2004) that Routledge’s current agreement would expire in the close season after Palace's reported £12,000-a-week five-year deal was not accepted. The south London club attempted to recoup a transfer fee then rather than gamble on tribunal-set compensation the following summer. Hence the war of words with Jordan clearly being extremely upset. Routledge had already played for England at three international levels and was tipped to be the next big thing. In his 100 plus games for Palace he had been heralded by Jordan too, the ten goals he scored were an added bonus.

However that turned sour, and the allegations by Jordan started a war of words between Routledge’s agent and the club - Jordan went on the attack. “ How in God's name does an agent, whose primary motivation is his own gain, succeed in achieving a divide between a player and a club that has had the boy for eight years and looked after him and his family Jordan asked. We've given Wayne his opportunity and given him every support and encouragement. How does someone like that build this level of influence over the player? I think the player has to take some responsibility in the whole equation because he is not a silly boy - most of these boys know their own minds”

Jordan's comments were questioned by the player's agent. A source from the company at the time claimed that it had tried "for some time" to open negotiations on behalf of Routledge only to be informed by Jordan that he did not deal with agents. The source also claimed that when Jordan attempted to open talks with Routledge alone the player referred the Palace chairman to his agent, only for the process to hit an impasse.

Jordan admits he put his proposal directly to the player but differs in his recollection of subsequent events. "I spoke to him direct because he's our player and if he wants to pass it on to his agent then that's his prerogative," said Jordan. "We were told by Wayne's agent, Paul Stretford, via [the Palace director of football] Bob Dowie, that this player will not be signing for the club and it would not matter what we put in front of him, how much or when. Wayne seems to have followed this through with a discussion with Iain Dowie illustrating that, possibly, he wants to move on to what he perceives as a bigger club with better players."

The comments by Simon Jordan that angered Routledge at the time were made after his significant lack of success at Spurs, playing only five games, albeit injured on his debut. His lack of stability thereafter at Portsmouth, Fulham and then Villa was information enough for Jordan to side swipe Routledge and reinforce his belief he should have stayed at Palace. You have to have sympathy for Jordan who regularly was finding himself being raided by perceived bigger clubs losing a plethora of players. Wayne’s however talks fondly of his first club. “Looking back at my time at Palace I would say it was a period of my career where I can say that I really enjoyed being at the club, I loved every minute of it. As a youngster it is everybody’s dream to play football and I was very lucky that I had the chance to play at such a young age at Crystal Palace, a club I knew well as it was local to my family and one that I was delighted to get the chance to play for.”

That war of words of course is water which has ran under many a bridge, the relationship between Jordan and Routledge much better these days, and of course Wayne has found a home and a belonging in Swansea, many do. He has stated he wished he had found Swansea sooner, however we are not too sure, the millions earned before he came to the Liberty and indeed the millions since make a more mature player more rounded. Wayne has had a decent career, achieved much and played football, the game he loves for all of his formative years and working life. If he has invested wisely he won’t have to worry about a great deal for the rest of his days, a luxury many cannot afford. In fact not even in retirement, most need extra funds just to survive.

That all said Routledge has been a pivotal reason why the swans have had success this century, a proven talent, and his initial years as a young player have most certainly benefited him. It’s called maturity and development through experience. For us, he couldn’t be any more a productive influence than he has been in recent years. Not only on the pitch but as a mentor to the many young players we have at Swansea.

Yesterday’s performance by Wayne may well be right at the very end of his Swansea career, but he has had a tremendous life in west Wales, a settled man with a settled family too. And have a guess what ? Wayne spends most of his time on the Swansea bench, you see Jordan was right, but don’t get too tasty with us, it’s tongue in cheek. Routledge proved in the away win at Millwall, having him in reserve is an absolute pleasure, having him play like he did yesterday and for younger players be able to see it, and appreciate it, is a fantastic deal for the club. The boy Routs has become a real man, and he has stepped up, for himself, his family and his club. There’s nought wrong with Routs, and we reckon there’s a few more games like yesterday left in him still.

Routs family values

Keith Haynes is the owner and editor of “Swansea Independent” He has been writing on football matters since 1991, his writing glossary is available on Amazon worldwide

Images licensed from Reuters

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