Saluting Gary Caldwell’s Career


Wigan Athletic’s club captain Gary Caldwell has unfortunately had to retire from football, due to persistent injury problems.

Or has he?

According to The Scotsman he has and they have quotes attributed to the man himself.

Caldwell stated…

“That’s the end for me. I have been struggling for years, to be perfectly honest, and even training was becoming really painful.

But a few days later, Wigan boss Malky Mackay seemed a bit unsure.

With Malky saying…

“He’s club captain and a very good influence to have about the place, he’s still training with us and he hasn’t made any bold statement on retiring. I think the news has been a bit misguided on that one.”

Now to be perfectly honest, it’s probably just a misunderstanding between the player and the manager. But I doubt we’ll see Gary on the park, playing in anger, again. Maybe an official statement is planned for the summer and Mackay didn’t want the distraction as the ‘Latics’ fight for Championship survival.

The main mystery, for me, in this story is the lack of glowing articles praising Gary Caldwell. Maybe people are just waiting for official confirmation. Maybe I’ve just missed them. Or maybe writers and fans have forgotten about Stirling man’s pedigree.

See it’s always been hard to judge Caldwell the player.

At Hibs, Celtic and Wigan he would do his up most to improve his game and lead by example.

Gary was also a player that fellow professionals and managers seemed to appreciate more than supporters. A lot of that is down to his versatility and his willingness to down the messy stuff, that other players would turn their nose up at, like man mark or get physical with the bigger forwards.

The fact that he had the odd mistake in him would also leave punters uneasy watching him at times. Plus its hard to define his style… He was nearly a dominating defender and he was nearly a ball playing centre-half, without being an expert at either.

What he did do was give is all.

The Scotland win over World Cup finalists France in 2006, showed Gary Caldwell off at his best. He wasn’t overawed by the opposition and was played by Walter Smith as a holding midfielder, a task he took to with great gusto. Caldwell protected his teams back-line and stood up to constant pressure.

Scotland were dependant on his strength, commitment and versatility.

No one would have guessed that it would be Caldwell that would secure the winner over Les Bleus in the 66th minute that night. Hampden Park roared, as Gary stole a march on Eric Abidal and slid the ball home from a Paul Hartley corner.

How different that scene was from his international debut, which came against the French four years previously. It was also the first game of the Berti Vogts era and Scotland were handed a 5-0 reverse by France.

Gary would go on and win fifty-five caps in total and is one of those Scottish players that were unfortunate not to reach an international tournament.

After leaving his first club Newcastle in 2004, Caldwell signed on at Hibs on a free transfer. He would become a first team regular straight away at Easter Road and became an integral part of their squad in the two and a half years he was there.

The Gordon Strachan signed him up on a free to join Celtic. This move would become trophy laden for the central defender/right back/defensive-mid as he won two Scottish Premier League titles, a Scottish Cup and League Cup winner medal with the Parkhead side.

Caldwell would also win the Scottish ‘Player of the Year’ award, during his Glasgow stay. Although criticised at times at Celtic Park, he also became a bit of a cult hero with the fans affectionately referring to him as ‘Heid!’. That status was cemented when Gary became involved in a physical scuffle with Rangers defender David Weir, who was also an international teammate, during a very tetchy Old Firm battle, which Celtic were victorious in.

The international centre-back would leave the Hoops in a £1m deal to Wigan during the 2010 winter transfer window, after failing to agree a new deal with the Glasgow giants.

He developed a good bond with his first Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, so much so he was made captain after only a few months at the club. He was vital in helping the Northern English side stay in the English Premier League during his first two full seasons but unfortunately missed a large chunk of the 2012-13 season due to injury. That season saw Wigan Athletic finally succumb to relegation.

That 2012-13 season also witnessed Wigan winning the FA Cup for the first time in their history. Even though injury had prevented Caldwell from taking an active part in his team’s success, he did make the bench for the final and was on hand  to lift the trophy as the club’s captain. Just by making the bench shows how highly thought of the heroic defender was to Martinez.

The fact both Uwe Rosler and Malky Mackay wanted/want Gary Caldwell to hang around at the DW stadium just shows you that the player must be a great influence to have around the place and a leader and mentor, who could be invaluable to the club.

Well done Gary, you have had an extremely successful career and it’s all been down to hard work and dedication!

6 Responses to “Saluting Gary Caldwell’s Career”

  1. Well done Gary? This guy cocked up against Swansea and got us relegated, kept us down by giving the penalty away at QPR, and missed the penalty against Arsenal.

    Well done mate.

  2. He has had a great career, but let’s be honest he was a bomb scare a t times!

  3. BE – Sorry for touching a nerve. Yes I know he made a few mistakes, I mention he was prone to them in the article.

    I don’t think you can lay all Wigan’s problems on one guy.

  4. BE – I agree with you mate he was pronbe to the odd mistake or two wherever he played, but football is a team sport remember!

    You can’t take away the fact that he is a winner, he has the medals to prove it!

  5. Lad’s, I know he did some good stuff for us, like the goal at Liverpool which basically started that amazing run to beat relegation. And the goal saving tackle on Carlton Cole, which the ref didn’t see, in the 3-2 comeback against West Ham. My disappointment with the bad stuff is the timing, and the occasions.

  6. Sometimes players mess up in the big game, happens all the time!

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