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Craig Sinclair Gordon (born 31 December 1982 in Edinburghmarker) is a Scottishmarker footballer, currently playing as a goalkeeper for both Sunderland and the Scotland national team.

Club career

Gordon attended Balerno Community High School from 1994 until 1999, a well known Hearts supporter since his time there. He is a graduate of Hearts' youth development programme, which in recent years has also produced fellow Scottish internationals Gary Naysmith, Allan Johnston, Paul Ritchie and Robbie Neilson.

Cowdenbeath

Craig went on loan to lower league side Cowdenbeath where he played a handful of games before being recalled to the Hearts team. His first professional game was at Fortbank in a match versus Stirling Albion.

Hearts

He made his debut for Hearts in a 1–1 draw with Livingston on 6 October 2002, and within 12 months had replaced Tepi Moilanen as the regular custodian of the Hearts goal. His performances during the 2003–04 season resulted in him being short-listed for the Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year award, which was won by then Celtic midfielder, Stephen Pearson.

Gordon had become a Scotland regular by 2005 and his consistent displays during the 2005–06 season helped Hearts to a second place finish in the Scottish Premier League and victory in the Scottish Cup. The trophy was won in a penalty shootout against Gretna following a 1–1 draw, with Gordon saving opponent Derek Townsley's penalty. That season he was voted Scottish Football Writers' Association Player of the Year, becoming the first Hearts player to win the award since Sandy Jardine in 1986 and also the first goalkeeper since Rangers' Andy Goram in 1993.

For much of the 2006–07 season rumours linked Gordon with a move away from Tynecastlemarker, particularly following his involvement in the issuing of a statement against club owner Vladimir Romanov. Gordon and Paul Hartley flanked captain Steven Pressley as he read out a statement claiming there was "significant unrest" in the Hearts dressing room. The venue for this statement, Hearts' Riccarton training ground, led to the media dubbing the players the "Riccarton Three". Rangers, Aston Villa, Arsenal and Manchester United were all credited with an interest in the player in late 2006. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger observed Gordon in action in Scotland's 1–0 victory against France in a Euro 2008 qualifying match. He touted Gordon as having "presence and good handling and [he] looks a very good goalkeeper to me." Gordon confirmed his rising stock with a spectacular cross-goal save in the October 2006 Edinburgh derby and the following month he was named as Hearts' new captain, replacing the departed Pressley.

Despite Hearts' claims that he was ill, he was "dropped" to the bench for the game against Dundee United in December 2006 for what many believed to be a disciplinary measure by the club following his involvement in the "Riccarton Three" statement.. He was reinstated, however, for the Edinburgh derby match against Hibernian three days later. He was not listed in the squad to face Rangers on 27 January 2007, just four days before the closure of the transfer window, and it was confirmed by the club that they were negotiating his transfer. Gordon, however, remained a Hearts player when the window closed.

In March 2007, Gordon expressed his interest in playing for Arsenal, after reports had cited that he was linked as a candidate to succeed the veteran Jens Lehmann as Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper, stating "Arsenal is one of the top teams in Britain, in Europe, if not the world, so it is something that would definitely interest any player". Hearts failure to qualify for European competition at the season's end further increased speculation that Gordon would be sold, with Sunderland and Aston Villa rumoured suitors in July 2007. His appearance in Hearts 3-1 friendly defeat by FC Barcelona on 28 July proved to be his last for the club.

On 8 November, Gordon was inducted into the Hearts Hall of Fame. Still only 24, he was the youngest player ever to have that honour bestowed upon him.

Sunderland

Gordon playing for Sunderland
It was announced on 7 August 2007 that Gordon had agreed a five year contract with Sunderland, with confirmation of the move coming the following day. Gordon's move could in future set a British record transfer fee for a goalkeeper, with £7m paid up front, and £2m based on appearances. Should the fee reach £9m it would surpass the £7.8m paid by Manchester United for Fabien Barthez seven years earlier.

Gordon made his debut for Sunderland in the Premier League opening game against Tottenham Hotspur, keeping a clean sheet as the side won 1–0. Coincidentally, in this match his rival goalkeeper, Paul Robinson, was the England first choice. It was the first time a Scotland first choice goalkeeper and an England first choice goalkeeper had faced each other in a club match since 2001, when Arsenal's David Seaman faced Tottenham's Neil Sullivan.

Even though £9 million was spent on Gordon, Sunderland manager Roy Keane wasn't afraid to drop him to the bench, after Sunderland's 7–1 thrashing by Everton in December, Welshmarker goalkeeper Darren Ward took his place. However, he soon regained his place as first choice goalkeeper three games later, ending the 2007–2008 season with an impressive turn of form.

In the middle of the 2008-09 season, Gordon was out for several months with a knee injury and found himself as backup to Marton Fulop. However at the start of the 2009-10 season, Gordon regained his place in the starting 11, and has had an impressive start, making countless saves to keep Sunderland in with a chance of points in there games, most recently against West Hammarker. His start has impressed manager Steve Bruce to put off plan's to buy a new Goalkeeper. On 7 November away at Tottenham Hotspur, he broke his arm in a collison with Jermain Defoe and faces several months on the sidelines.

International career

Gordon made his Scotland debut in a 4–1 victory over Trinidad and Tobago at Easter Road Stadiummarker on 30 May 2004 during Berti Vogts' reign, latterly establishing himself as the first choice under Vogts' successor's Walter Smith and then Alex McLeish.

Then BBC pundit and former player Allan Preston saw him as a potential Scottish great, describing him as "one of the best goalkeepers in Europe". After a 1-1 draw with Italy he drew praise from his hero Gianluigi Buffon who claimed he could be one of the best goalkeepers in the world. On the 1st April 2009, during a World Cup qualification game for Scotland against Iceland, Gordon produced a fantastic double save in the 90th minute to ensure a 2-1 victory. Although he played a starring role in Scotland's 2-0 home victory over Macedonia, he suffered a thigh injury and was sidelined for Scotland's 1-0 loss to Holland; which effectively ended their 2010 World Cup hopes.

Honours

Hearts


References

External links

  • Soccerbase error
  • Profile at londonhearts.com



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