Carlton Palmer: football’s punchline

Carlton Palmer.

It is a name that will echo throughout the annals of footballing history; a player who’s bloope- sorry, “highlight” reels will surely offer encouragement to even the most downhearted of young footballers – encouragement that if Palmer can become an international footballer, then so can they!

In fact, it’s fair to say that Palmer is the perennial footballing punchline to any pub debate over ‘who’s the worst footballer you’ve ever seen?’.

For those who aren’t aware of Palmer’s footballing, err, “pedigree”, let this short clip from BBC Three’s “England’s Worst Ever Football Team” (a reassuring title) fill you in.

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Or, if you’d rather have him summed up in one eloquent sentence: he was a bit like Yaya Toure, with all of the height and precisely zero of the talent.

It’s not just your average punter who made a mockery of Carlton’s playing days either – Dave Jones, his manager whilst at Southampton during the 1997-98 season, famously stated:

“He covers every blade of grass, but that’s only because his first touch is crap.”

A glowing referral.

Not only that, Ron Atkinson – who signed Palmer twice (the mind boggles) during his managerial career – went on record saying:

“Carlton Palmer can trap the ball further than I can kick it”.

International stardom

Despite these unsavoury comments about his footballing ability, Palmer managed to hoodwink the footballing world into generating an actual career for himself.

After turning professional in 1984, Palmer went on to bamboozle opposing teams with his lack of skill for almost 20 years, finishing off his career in England with the titans of Stockport County.

It was in the early 90s, however, that Palmer really reached his zenith, being capped 18 times for England by then-manager Graham Taylor.

Eighteen. Caps.

Bear in mind that midfield legend Matt le Tissier, widely regarded as one of England’s most talented and indeed overlooked players, was only capped eight times for the national side during the same period.

You must be thinking “I’ve seen it all now – surely it can’t get any worse than this?”

But wait – there’s more!

Perhaps even more laughable is Palmer’s career post-football. Inbetween being a fairly mediocre pundit and a very unsuccessful manager, Palmer starred in what is possibly the best/worst/weirdest football-related advert of all time. Just take a look at this!

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Oh how the mighty have fallen. Or in Palmer’s case, “how the less-than-average have taken the short journey to hit rock bottom.”

So there we have it – one of England’s forgotten players who, really, probably deserves to stay forgotten.

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