Geremi Njitap - the hard man

football15 March 2023 04:30
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Games/Clean sheets
Middlesbrough: 33/7
Chelsea: 72/4
Newcastle United: 42/1
Premier League titles (2): 2004/05, 2006/06

Versatile Cameroon right-back/midfielder Geremi played in Paraguay and Turkey before he was signed by Real Madrid in 1999, spending three years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

He won two Champions League medals with Real, but as his influence began to wane, was sent on loan to Premier League side Middlesbrough, where he proved a huge success as the club finished in mid-table. He did more than most to keep them up.

That alerted a host of teams but he became a £6.9-million signing for Chelsea in July 2003 and after a strong first season at the club, morphed into more of a bench player, but still helped them to two successive Premier League titles.

He was, perhaps, stifled by his versatility. Was he a right-back? Was he a defensive midfielder? He was both, but it meant he rarely started in either position and manager Jose Mourinho could use him as a strong option from the bench, covering multiple roles.

Geremi joined Newcastle United in 2007/08 but was relegated with the side in his second season. He stayed on in the Championship to help them win promotion, before returning to Turkey with Ankaragucu and later playing in Greece.

He scored 12 goals and provided a healthy 23 assists in his time in the Premier League, and perhaps never quite got the plaudits his consistent performances deserved.

Geremi is the cousin of former Cameroon international Pierre Webo and both turned out for the Indomitable Lions at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.