Walsall FC - Foreign Legion
During the late 90`s and throughout the 00`s we relied on Paul Taylor`s scouting network to assemble sides that could compete.
We have had some quality imports over the years and some of our best players have came off the continent, over the next few days (whilst news is slow from The Banks's) I will name my favourite Non-British X1.
Today I look at the back line.
(I had to include Rep of Ireland as I was struggling for centre backs!!)
Goalkeeper - Clayton Ince (Trinidad)
Until Clayton arrived we found ourselves changing goalkeepers constantly since the departure of legendary Jimmy Walker. In July 2006, Ince signed for Walsall following a successful trial spell. Ince received a 10 day ban from FIFA in October 2006 after Walsall withdrew him from the Trinidad & Tobago squad without permission. He became Walsall's first choice goalkeeper and received the League One player of the Month award in November.
In our League 2 championship season, Clayton picked up Walsall`s Player Of The Season Award and also was named in the PFA Team Of The Year.
It is fair to say that despite him having a few dodgy moments, Clayton is one of the best shot stoppers I have had the pleasure of seeing.
Clayton played 152 times for Walsall.
In 2010 Clayton retired from football, however in 2011 he signed a 2 year player/coach deal with T&TEC FC in Trinidad.
Right Back - Charlie Ntamark (Cameroon)
Mr versatile, Charlie played everywehere he was required, he was another never say die footballers. He wasn`t graced with bundles of quality but Charlie was a very clever player and would always give his all for the club.
Charlie was capped 31 times for Cameroon during his time at Walsall.
You can often see his own goal v West Ham on most blooper DVD`s
In total Charlie played 276 times and scored 12 goals.
Centre Half - Danny Hay (Australia)
Danny Hay only played for us for one season, but I actually liked him.
He was around in the Colin Lee era where he played in probably the greatest and worst team in our history.
He lacked speed but another Saddler that gave his all.
After leaving Walsall he returned to Australia and played for NZ Knights and Waitakere Utd. In June 2010 Hay made national news when he criticised the New Zealand National coach, Ricki Herbert.
Centre Half - Anthony Gerrard (Rep of Ireland)
In 2005 Walsall manager Paul Merson signed two youngsters from Everton. Anthony Gerrard and Danny Fox. In his first season Gerrard was named Player Of The Season for his nononsense defending and his never say die attitude, despite his heroics we were relegated to League 2. Gerrard and Scott Dann were instrumental during that season and this led to Championship clubs showing an interest.
In 2008 Walsall rejected a bid from Southampton. This led to Anthony Gerrard handing in a transfer request and he never regained him form. In 2009 Walsall rejected a £200,000 bid from Scunthorpe for him but later accepted a bid from Cardiff City.
Gerrard played 155 times for Walsall scoring 7 goals.
He now plays for Huddersfield Town.
Left Back - Zigor Aranalde (Spain)
Zigor Aranalde was like marmite. Some fans could never warm to him but the thing is with Zigor you were always going to get 110% from him.
Zigor joined the club on the eve of the 2000-01 season; his and Pedro`s understanding was a key factor in our promotion via the play-offs.
He made 195 appearances for Walsall and scored 5 goals. He was also a regular spotkick specialist.
Paul Merson surprisingly released him in 2005 after 5 fantastic years with the club. He later signed for Sheffield Wedensday before a stint at Carlise before moving back to Spain.
Zigor is now a scout for Brighton.