Shaun Goater: a perennial lower league goalscorer whose name will forever be remembered by Manchester City fans. Top scorer at the club for four straight seasons, Goater is a City icon who led the club from the depths of the third tier back up to the Premier League.
The Bermudian striker could have ended up playing for arch rivals Manchester United. In 1988, United scouts out in Bermuda spotted Goater and invited him to England for a trial. At the time Goater was a creative midfielder, but he impressed Alex Ferguson enough to earn a professional contract with the Red Devils.
Goater was unable to break into the United first-team, so joined Rotherham United in 1989 to get regular football. The Bermudian struggled with homesickness initially, finding the English climate particularly difficult to get used to.
“It took me a good two years to get used to life in England. At first I thought the sun never shone and it wasn’t for me.”
After a difficult first couple of years, Goater began to show his poacher’s instinct, netting 86 goals in his time at Rotherham, before deciding to leave the club in 1996 after a fall out with manager Archie Gemmill.
Despite multiple offers from abroad, Goater joined lowly Bristol City for £175,000 so he could stay in England, quickly building up an impressive goalscoring record at the club. In both seasons for the team, Goater helped City attempt to gain promotion to the First Division, being named in the PFA Team of the Year in 1998 as the club finished 2nd in the league.
— Bristol City Shirt (@bcfcshirt) August 5, 2016
Goater would not see out the 1997/98 season with the Robins though, as Manchester City came calling on the March deadline day with a fee of £400,000.
With the Blues being relegated from the First Division in 1998, Goater’s first few weeks at the club were turbulent. Many City fans questioned the signing, despite the Bermudian scoring three goals in seven games at the end of that season.
The following season however, the “Feed the goat and he will score” chant was born as Goater scored over 20 goals, including the winning goal in the pla-off semi-final against Wigan Athletic that would lead to City’s promotion back to the First Division at Wembley against Gillingham.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 20, 2014
The 1999/2000 season was where Goater fully broke out as the fan favourite at Maine Road. 29 goals saw Goater named Player of the Year and inspired City to a second successive promotion up to the Premier League. Such was the Bermudian’s success, he was awarded the freedom of the island and the introduction of “Shaun Goater Day” on June 21.
Goater’s first season in top flight football would prove challenging as new signings Paulo Wanchope and George Weah threatened his place in the XI. Goater still managed to score 11 goals, but Manchester City were relegated from the Premier League after winning just eight games.
However, Goater was able to seal his place in City folklore in the 2001/02 season by becoming City’s top goalscorer for the fourth consecutive year. He also became the first Citizen since 1972 to score over 30 goals in a season as the Blues stormed back to the Premier League with ease.
— footballreminder (@footballremind) September 10, 2016
Sadly, Goater’s fairytale marriage with Manchester became sour in the 2002/03 season. Nicolas Anelka was signed and was preferred up front to Goater who only started 14 games. Goater accused manager Kevin Keegan of forcing him out of the club, but the club legend was still given the honour of captaining the side in their final game at Maine Road, his 212nd and last appearance for Manchester City.
Reading manager Alan Pardew signed Goater in the summer in what Reading chairman John Madejski called the biggest signing in the club’s history. Sadly for Madejski, Goater and Reading would not be a good match. Pardew left early in the 2003/04 season and replacement Steve Coppell didn’t see Goater as a good fit in his side. After considering retirement, Goater decided to play one more season at Southend United in 2005.
11 goals helped the Shrimpers to promotion and also led to a memorable last professional game where 400 Manchester City fans made the trip down to Essex to mark the occasion and show their appreciation for Goater’s career.
Shaun Goater is now managing in the depths of non-league football at Ilkeston, but will likely always be remembered as a Manchester City cult hero. Without his goals that propelled City up to the Premier League, who knows whether they would be the English force that they are now?
What memories do you have of the brilliant Bermudian? Let us know in the comments below!