Player Profile: Glen Johnson
Date of Birth: 23/08/1984
Height: 1.82 m (6 ft)
National Team: England
International Caps: 54
International Goals: 1
What would you buy if you had hundreds of millions of rubles? A yacht? A mansion? Or Glen Johnson? The first two quickly spring to the mind of the vast majority of us. But if you’re Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, it’s the latter that takes your fancy.
When the Russian millions poured into Stamford Bridge in 2003, few would have expected that Johnson would be the first purchase. But it took £6 million to prize him away from West Ham and make him the first of Chelsea’s very own Galacticos. There’s a trivia question answered for you!
Johnson’s career began at fellow London club West Ham United. However, the young right back took a turn that few dared to take at the very beginning of his career. He swapped the claret of The Hammers for a spell in the Lion’s Den at Millwall on loan. Johnson spent three months at West Ham’s bitter rivals before he was forgiven by the Hammers faithful (presumably), with the highly rated right back making his full debut in January 2002.
A promising start to his career was rewarded with a four year contract with West Ham, who at the time were fighting to keep their place in the top flight in most Premier League campaigns.
Fast forward two months however, and Johnson was already making his final appearance in a claret shirt as the Hammers slumped to relegation on the final day of the 2002-03 Premier League campaign. Second tier football was beckoning, but not for Johnson.
The young right back had earned admiring glances from across the city at the newly cashed-up Chelsea. Then managed by the much maligned Claudio Ranieri and steered by the millions of Russian tycoon Abramovich, The Blues were using their new financial power to build their very own Galacticos. Chelsea cherry picked the cream of the crop from each of their rivals to piece together a winning squad and Johnson was at the very top of that list.
West Ham accepted the bid of £6 million and Johnson’s top flight career was set to continue as he pulled on the shirt of the new title favourites. He made his full debut in a Champions League tie against Zilina, a far cry from the second tier football he was destined to take part in at his old club. He even scored in the home leg of this tie.
Despite being the first signing, Johnson was forced to share the right back birth with Mario Melchiot, appearing in exactly half of the league games as Chelsea finished as runners-up. The Blues would go one better the next season and Johnson contributed enough to grab himself a Premier League winners medal. However, despite the fact Chelsea can boast of back-to-back league titles, Johnson can not.
The right back fell out of favour and was frozen out by manager Jose Mourinho, playing only four times in the title success of 2005-06 and missing out on another medal. This all but signalled his departure from the best team in the country and he found himself being sent out on loan to the less fashionable Portsmouth, before signing permanently in August 2007.
From the bright lights of London to the… cosier surroundings of Fratton Park, Johnson settled in quickly and soon established himself as the number one choice at right back. His overlapping forward bursts became a trademark of his as he not only reminded Chelsea of what they were missing, but alerted the attention of the England national team.
But if Johnson thought he’d swapped trophies at Chelsea for first team football (and that only) at Pompey, he was mistaken. In 2008, Portsmouth achieved one of the great FA Cup miracles in getting all the way to the final, before lifting the trophy in only the second final at the new Wembley.
Having dealt with the heartbreak of missing out on a winner’s medal at Chelsea, Johnson was dealt another cruel blow when his FA cup medal was stolen from his hotel room in London. This story had a happier ending, however, as the FA agreed to make him a new one.
The admiring glances of more famous suitors were back once again, this time in the form of Liverpool. Johnson had signed a new deal at Pompey in January 2009 to all but signal that he was at the club for the long haul. However, the Reds secured his signature just five months later thanks to a whopping bid of £18.5 million, a fee that made him their most expensive defender ever.
While Johnson had been the first signing in the Abramovich reign at Chelsea, he was the last in the rather more ill-fated reign of American duo George Gillette and Tom Hicks at Liverpool.
The Reds had narrowly missed out on the league title the year before his arrival and he was said to be one of the remaining pieces of the jigsaw which would bring the title back to Merseyside. However, Johnson would continue to be another nearly man in the red of Liverpool.
He secured a League Cup winners medal before taking a runners-up medal in the FA Cup final in 2012. A 6th placed league finish was followed by an 8th place finish as Liverpool began to regress back towards that form that saw them slip into obscurity in the 1990s. Then came the SAS season of 2013-14.
Inspired by the Sturridge and Suarez combination, Liverpool came incredibly close once more. We all know what happened to that team in the end and this led to Johnson finishing his Premier League career with only one winner’s medal.
Similar to that Liverpool side, Johnson’s career began to fade and he left Stoke City on a free transfer before retiring following the club’s relegation.
Glen Johnson can count himself unfortunate that his emergence on to the scene came at the same time as arguably one of England’s greatest ever right back’s.
It was Gary Neville who kept that spot warm for the vast majority of Johnson’s career, and due to random runs of bad form, he even lost the understudy job on a few occasions.
However, Johnson finally got his chance in Euro 2012 when he started all of England’s group matches as they progressed into the quarter finals of the competition where they were eliminated by Italy, and you guessed it, lost on penalties.
Johnson also made it into England’s 2014 World Cup campaign, but a group stage elimination made this a tournament to forget.
Did you know? Interesting facts about Glen Johnson
– You probably did know this one… In 2007, Johnson was accused of stealing a toilet seat from a well known hardware store. Described as a misunderstanding, Johnson and his former Millwall team mate Ben May swapped a toilet seat in a bathroom fittings set for a slightly more expensive one. They were ordered to pay an on the spot fine of £80 or face a trial in court. They paid the fine.
– After Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini was sent off in an FA Cup tie against Newcastle, Johnson found himself filling in between the sticks. He kept a clean sheet but Chelsea lost 1-0.
– Glen Johnson was named after England and Tottenham Hotspur legend Glenn Hoddle