That Boy Clint Dempsey
I’m not going to lie, I hated Clint Dempsey. It’s well documented that Clint didn’t leave Fulham in the right way refusing to play for the club again in a hope to force a move to Liverpool that he was convinced was a certainty. As it happened the move to Merseyside was far from a forgone conclusion with the move dragging onto a full blown transfer saga with Fulham threatening to take the Reds to court over allegedly tapping up Clint. In the end Clint did manage to force his move from Fulham, not to a Champions League club but one with huge aspirations of getting there Tottenham Hotspur. After a decent season with the Lillywhites, Clint has bid farewell to England to return to the MLS. The move back to the MLS in what is Clint’s prime is for me a sad end to a groundbreaking spell in England where if things were handled in a different fashion last summer he could have become a true club legend.
But let’s not dwell on the negatives, Clint Dempsey for me should be remembered as a Fulham legend and probably the best Yank to ever grace the Premiership (Sorry Brian!)
I remember feeling very excited by the prospect of getting Clint Dempsey, this was a player who for me stood out in World Cup 2006,where he scored for America Vs Ghana. When we eventually did pick up ‘Duce’ after months of negotiations with the MLS 2007 I was chuffed. The signs were there from the very start with regards to Clint. Flashes of skill, step-overs and flicks, a tackle on then Fulham’s most hated Steed Malbranque also helped! In the brief 15 minutes against Tottenham I realised what all the hype was about and why he was voted as a player to watch by 4-4-2 magazine.
It was at the end of Clint’s first season where the man from Texas wrote his name into Fulham history. Dempsey scored the goal that secured Fulham’s safety in our first real relegation dog fight. A classy first half finish against Liverpool gained 3 massive points against a under strength Liverpool side,a result Neil ‘Colin Wanker’ Warnock harks on about to this day.
It’s fair to say Clint was always forced to prove his worth to the team. The first manger to not utilise Clint effectively was Chris Coleman who signed the American. After he lost his job, Lawrie Sanchez then interim manger nearly made the same mistake until that goal against Liverpool. Sanchez made the mistake of under estimating Dempsey the next season signing the likes of Bouazza to replace him. Clint kept his nose to the ground and played a role in securing Fulham’s safety, in a season where Sanchez was replaced by Hodgson. Dempsey finished Fulham’s top scorer in a turbulent season with 6 goals. The signs where there for all to see that Dempsey should be a key player in Fulham’s future.
Despite finishing ‘The Great Escape’ as Fulham’s top scorer, Clint was again forced to prove his worth to the team. Prove his worth Clint did, despite only playing a bit part role again. Dempsey finished Fulham’s top scorer on 7 including that brace against the scum, who can forget that bullet header? Clint’s contribution though mainly from the bench saw Fulham clinch a record 7th position and automatic qualification for the Europa league.
The 09-10 season which included the Europa League campaign as a Fulham fan is a season I doubt will ever be topped. It was though again a season that Clint Dempsey was never really trusted as a true starter more a man who could produce a moment of magic or a vital goal. This season saw the goal that possibly acts as a microcosm for his whole time at Fulham. Not selected to start against Juventus preferred ahead of him was the sublime Zoltan Gera and the more positionally astute Davies and Duff. Dempsey was introduced on the 71st minute and just 11 minutes later scored possibly the greatest goal Craven Cottage has ever seen to see Fulham (yes little Fulham) beat Juventus ( Italy’s most successful clubs) 5-4 on aggregate and 4-1 on the night.
Clint’s bit part role was illustrated by the fact he failed to gain a starting place in Fulham’s starting line up for the final. It seemed no matter what Clint did it wasn’t good enough to nail down a starting berth in Fulham’s plans.
When Mark Hughes arrived at Fulham Clint after 4 season managed to break into the side regularly and repaid the faith shown in him by hitting 12 Premier League goals. This saw the Texan again becoming Fulham’s top scorer in the league and also become Fulham’s all time top Premier Leagues marksman with 33 goals.
When Hughes decided to leave, Martin Jol was in no doubt of Dempsey’s a ability choosing to utilise the American as a key player. Clint repaid Jol’s faith by scoring 17 premier league goals from midfield, which saw him voted 4th in the PFA player of the year.
Clint’s record for Fulham is put simply unbelievable and despite his legacy being tarnished by his move away from the Cottage his impact should never be forgotten. 3 times fans player of the year, 4 times top scorer, all time Fulham Premier league scorer, All time American top scorer in the EPL. To achieve all of these feats from midfield and also a rare starter (due to no manger really being able to nail down a position for Demps), that boy Clint Dempsey was pretty damn good!
Good luck in the MLS. And thanks for teaching me one thing as you said it in your interview VS Juventus ‘You never give up man’
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)