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Craig Gardner

{{Infobox football biography

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Craig Gardner biography


{{Infobox football biography

Playing career

Aston Villa

Born in Solihull, West Midlands, Gardner rejected the chance to join Birmingham City in 2003 in order to play for Aston Villa and turned professional on 31 January 2005. Before Gardner made Craig Gardner Premier League debut on 26 December 2005 Craig Gardner played for the youth team Arden Forest. This was before joining Aston Villa's youth system which then later took Craig Gardner to Craig Gardner debut, when Craig Gardner came on as a Substitute (association football) for Steven Davis against Everton F.C. at Villa Park, England. Craig Gardner scored Craig Gardner first professional goal for Villa in the 3–1 away win on 14 April against Middlesbrough. Craig Gardner also netted a contender for goal of the month on the last day of the season away to Bolton Wanderers. After a series of appearances Villa Manager Martin O'Neill entered contract talks with Gardner.

In August 2007, Gardner signed a new four year deal, which ran until June 2011. On 1 October 2007 Craig Gardner scored two goals in two games with two free-kicks. First Craig Gardner scored away to Tottenham Hotspur in a 4–4 draw and then the winner against West Ham 5 days later with a deflected Direct free kick.

On 1 December 2007, Gardner scored the opener in a home match against Arsenal F.C.. Villa went on to lose the match 2–1. Gardner has often played in the right-back slot, and impressed both Craig Gardner manager, Martin O'Neill, and captain, Gareth Barry, who said that Gardner could be a key player for years to come.

Gardner made just one appearance for Villa in the 2009–10 due to a groin injury. On 4 January 2010 it was announced that Birmingham City were preparing a £3.5 million bid. However it was revealed that Aston Villa had turned down the bid for the player. However, the club later offered a second deal including add-ons that was accepted by Aston Villa. Craig Gardner made exactly 80 appearances for Villa in all competitions.

Birmingham City

Gardner signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Birmingham City F.C. on 26 January 2010 for a fee reported as £3m plus £500,000 in add-ons. Craig Gardner made Craig Gardner debut on 7 February as a 68th-minute substitute, and set up the first of Kevin Phillips (footballer)' goals as Birmingham came back to beat Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. 2–1. Craig Gardner scored Craig Gardner first goal for the club against Everton on 13 March. Towards the end of the season Gardner was preferred to Sebastian Larsson on the right of midfield. Restored to Craig Gardner favoured central position, Craig Gardner scored twice in the first home game of the 2010–11 season as Birmingham came from behind to beat Blackburn Rovers 2–1, and scored again in the next game away at Bolton Wanderers. Gardner's winning goal in extra time against West Ham United F.C. took Birmingham City through to the 2011 Football League Cup Final. Craig Gardner was the club's top goalscorer in the 2010–11 season with eight League goals, ten in all competitions, as Birmingham were relegated to the Football League Championship.

Sunderland

Gardner signed a three-year deal with Sunderland A.F.C. for an undisclosed fee, believed by BBC Sport to be about £6 million, on 30 June 2011. Craig Gardner first played for Sunderland in a pre-season friendly against York City F.C. on 13 July, and scored Craig Gardner first goal in another friendly against Darlington F.C.. Gardner made Craig Gardner league debut as a substitute in the home defeat to Newcastle United on 20 August, and scored Craig Gardner first competitive goal as Sunderland beat Stoke City F.C. 4–0 at home to secure their first win of the season. Gardner fell out of favour at Sunderland, and was linked with a departure in the January transfer window. However, Craig Gardner was re-united with former boss O'Neill when Craig Gardner replaced Steve Bruce as Sunderland manager in December 2011, and this promted a change in fortune for Gardner and the Black Cats. Gardner was deployed at right back against Manchester City on New Year's Day 2012 due to an injury crisis, and helped Sunderland to a shock 1-0 win against the league leaders. Two days later Gardner, again playing at right back, scored Craig Gardner second goal for Sunderland, direct from a free kick in their 4-1 away win at Wigan. Gardner was rumoured to be homesick at Sunderland in the press, and was linked with a move back to Midlands (England). Sunderland rejected a loan bid for Gardner from former club Birmingham City on 19 January. Gardner scored a stunning volley from outside the box in Sunderland's 2-0 win over Swansea City A.F.C. on 21 January.

Personal life

Gardner said Craig Gardner was a lifelong Birmingham City supporter. Craig Gardner had previously claimed (while playing for Aston Villa) to have been a Villa fan since childhood. Craig Gardner younger brother Gary Gardner also played for England at youth level and turned professional with Aston Villa.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Gardner

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