Chris Sutton: One Cap Wonder

south africa and charlton striker shaun bartlett

Player Profile: Chris Sutton

Full Name: Christopher Roy Sutton

Date of Birth: 10/03/1973

Height: 6 ft 3 in

Position: Striker 

National Team: England

International Caps: 1

International Goals: 0

Club Career

Goal scorer. Premier League winner. One cap wonder. Outspoken pundit. Chris Sutton has had quite a career and it all started in 1991 at Norwich City.

Sutton made his Canaries debut at centre half in a 1-0 win over QPR but was soon asked to play higher up the pitch as a striker by manager Dave Stringer. He would only make one more appearance that season, but broke into the first team the following campaign, which turned out to be Stringers last at the club.

Five goals in 29 appearances helped Norwich to the FA Cup semi-finals where they were beaten by Sunderland. The following season, which was the first of the Premier League era, Sutton cemented himself in the Norwich starting eleven as he went on to make 38 league appearances finding the net eight times. The Canaries finished third and earned themselves a place in Europe. 

The 1993/94 season would prove to be Sutton’s last at Norwich and his most prolific in English football. He bagged 25 league goals, but could do nothing to stop his side dropping out of the top five. His form attracted attention from a number of big clubs including Arsenal and Manchester United, but it was Blackburn Rovers who captured his signature. 

Rovers completed the signing of Sutton in July 1994 for £5 million, making him the most expensive player in English football. And he immediately repaid his hefty price tag. 

During the 1994/95 season Sutton forged a strong relationship with Alan Shearer and they became known as SAS. They were deadly in front of goal netting 39 league goals between them as Blackburn went on to win the Premier League. Sutton was key to Blackburn’s success and when he missed a large chunk of the 95/96 season through injury Rovers struggled to produce the heroics of the previous year.

The following season Sutton was back to full fitness and scored 11 league goals in 25 appearances as Rovers finished 13th. In the final game of the season against Arsenal, Sutton sparked outrage. The Gunners wanted to kick the ball out of play so an injured player could receive treatment, but Sutton had other ideas. He intercepted the ball and won a corner, which Blackburn went on to score from. The game ended all square and Arsenal missed out on a Champions League spot. Afterwards caretaker boss Tony Parkes said Sutton was in the wrong, but the outspoken striker refused to apologise. Classic Sutton.

During the 1997/98 season Sutton scored 18 league goals as Blackburn qualified for Europe, but he could do nothing to stop Rovers from being relegated the season after. That would mark the end of Sutton’s Ewood Park career. He was sold to Chelsea for £10 million as Rovers looked to slash the wage bill following relegation.

Sutton’s time at Stamford Bridge was, simply put, a disaster. He scored just one league goal in 28 appearances failing to live up to the price tag. And when he didn’t even make the bench for Chelsea’s FA Cup final victory against Aston Villa everyone knew his time at the Bridge was up. 

Almost a year after signing for Chelsea, Sutton signed for Scottish champions Celtic in a deal worth around £6million. He became an instant hit with Celtic fans by scoring twice against arch rivals Rangers in his first Old Firm Derby.

Like he did with Shearer at Blackburn Rovers, Sutton went on to form a formidable partnership, this time with Sweden legend Henrik Larsson. The duo were unstoppable at times. 

Sutton spent six years at Celtic Park where he won three league titles, three Scottish Cups and one League Cup. His goals also helped Celtic to the UEFA Cup final in 2003, but they lost to Porto in extra time. Prior to the defeat Celtic played Blackburn Rovers earlier in the competition with Sutton getting on the score sheet against his former side.

Not one to shy away from voicing his opinion, Sutton once accused Dunfermline of “lying down” to allow Rangers to win the title. That same day he verbally abused the match officials and received a four match ban, plus an extra game for his comments made towards Dunfermline.

Sutton scored 63 goals in 130 appearances for Celtic, but soon found himself being phased out of the club by Gordon Strachan. Numerous reports suggested the two didn’t see eye to eye, and it was no surprise to see Sutton leave Celtic in 2006 and return to England.

Aged 33 Sutton joined Birmingham on a free transfer in January 2006. But his time at St Andrew’s was blighted with injuries and he made just ten league appearances. His only goal came against Aston Villa, who he would sign for later that year after being released by the Blues. 

In December 2006 Sutton suffered what turned out to be a career ending injury. He was hit on the head against Manchester United which led to blurred vision. After consulting numerous specialists Sutton was advised to retire from professional football or risk of losing his sight for good. So in July 2007 he announced his retirement from professional football.

International Career

Sutton’s one and only England cap came in 1997 after impressing for Blackburn Rovers. The striker made a substitute appearance against Cameroon but failed to feature again for the Three Lions after falling out with then manager Glenn Hoddle. Sutton was demoted to the England B team as a result of the fall but refused to play. His England career was over in a flash. 

Where is Chris Sutton now?

After a year or so out of the game Sutton was appointed manager of Lincoln City in League Two. Despite guiding the Imps to the FA Cup 3rd round for the first time since 1999 and securing league football for another season Sutton resigned as manager on 29th September due to family reasons.

Sutton is now a key member of BT’s Scottish football coverage and is well known for saying exactly what he thinks. His outspoken way also helped him land a gig with BBC Sport and Radio 5 Live.

Did you know? Interesting facts about Chris Sutton 

– Sutton holds the record for the quickest goal scored in Old Firm history after opening the scoring inside 18 seconds back in 2002.

– In 2012 Sutton made a surprise appearance for Isthmian League Division One North side Wroxham, playing half an hour alongside son Oliver.