Shaun Goater will go down in Manchester City’s fokelore as one of their most cherished strikers in modern times and almost certainly the greatest Bermudan footballer than ever lived.
Once again, Manchester United were indirectly handing their superior neighbours a footballing legend. In more recent times, Tevez has made the switch, however back in 1989 Goater was released as a youth. He then went on to play for Rotherham, Notts County and Bristol City before moving to City in 1998.
Goater caught Joe Royle’s eye as he was desperately trying to keep City in Division One and it was the Bermudan’s 43 goals in 79 games which persuaded the City boss. Goater cost Royle £400k and for a team languishing at the wrong end of the table, it was thought that he could fire the Blues out of the relegation zone. With 3 goals in 7 games, Goater proved his worth but it wasn’t enough to keep the Maine Road club from the drop into the third tier of English Football for the first time in their history.
Goater enjoyed his time in Division two, scoring 21 goals in a season that saw Manchester City push for promotion. City finished in the playoff places and faced Wigan in the Semi-Final. Goater fired home the winner to cement him in the heart of the Kippax and capped a sterling first full season for the club and thus proving any doubters wrong. This sent City to a dramatic final, under the famous Wembley towers, against Gillingham. It was Goater’s strike partner, Paul Dickov, that grabbed the headlines that day, but nonetheless City and Shaun Goater continued their whirlwind romance.
In the 1999/2000 season, City competed in Division One and Goater fired in another 29 goals in the famous blue shirt. This was enough for the City fans to vote the Goat player of the season, despite stiff competition in another promotion winning campaign. After such a successful season Goater, somewhat unbelievably, was given the freedom of Bermuda and June 21st was declared as Shaun Goater Day.
Not something that you could imagine England offering for the likes of Darren Bent.
With City in the Premiership and the money that brought to the club, there was an influx of new players which limited Goaters opportunities in the first team. Goater grabbed 11 goals, again being City’s top scorer however, did not get a real run of games to be able to prove himself at the top level. Despite his advancing years, being 30 at this stage, Goater was competing against the likes of Paolo Wanchope and George Weahm who were no spring chickens and were coming towards the twilight of their careers. It was relegation again for City.
In the 2001 season, Joe Royle departed and Kevin Keegan took over the reigns at City. By the summer of 2002 Goater had fired 30 goals, a record previously held by Franny Lee. City won the league and Goater won the Golden Boot. Goater had been City’s top scorer for four consecutive seasons and Keegan had shown faith in a player that was seen to be one of Royle’s players, rather than one of his own.
Come Goater’s return to the Premiership in 2002, Keegan had his sights on survival and planned to go about this the only way he knew how. To spend. John Macken and Nicolas Anelka came in and despite their reputations, they never delivered whilst at City. Goater felt rightly aggreived as he made little over 10 appearances but still netted 7 times.
In 2003, Goater announced he would leave City to enable him to play first team football. He was not happy and nor were the fans. Before his departure he was however, asked to lead the side out for their final game at Maine Road, much to the delight of the City faithful.
The Goat left City for Reading in 2003 and went onto make 43 appearances for the Royals, scoring 12 goals over the next two seasons. Subsequently, he moved onto Coventry for a short spell at the end of the 2005 season and then in 2005/2006 moved to Southend, scoring 11 in 33 outings. Allegedly, around 300 City fans turned up to bid the Goat farewell on his final outing for the club.
Leonard Shaun Goater was a hero for City fans. Despite a tough start to his career at Maine Road, he worked incredibly hard on his game under Joe Royle to prove that nice guys finish first. An MBE and national holiday later, the prolific poacher is still involved with the game in his native Bermuda, assisting with the Bermuda Hogges who play in the third tier of American “Soccer”. After being intially targeted by a small section of City fans upon his arrival, he silenced his critics with goals, to acheive legendary status.
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