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Francis Jeffers (born 25 January 1981 in Liverpoolmarker, Merseyside) is an Englishmarker footballer, currently playing for Sheffield Wednesday.

Club career

A striker, Francis Jeffers began his career at Everton, making his debut as a half-time substitute (for Dave Watson) on Boxing Day 1997 at Old Trafford at the age of 16 years 335 days. Showing a lot of early promise and talent, he scored 20 goals in 60 matches for the Toffees. However, after a much publicised row with manager Walter Smith over a pay rise, he was dropped from the team for half a season and subsequently rarely performed as well. However, his performances had caught the eye of Arsène Wenger, who was desperate for a striker and he signed him for Arsenal in 2001 for £8 million - making him one of the club's most expensive signings yet.

However, Jeffers did not live up to the "fox in the box" tag, and his time at Arsenal was dogged by injury. He was forced out of the side by the form of fellow strikers like Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord.

He returned to Everton for 2003–04 on loan, but only scored twice (with both goals coming against Fulham in the FA Cup, once in the original tie and again in the replay) in 22 appearances for his side, before falling out with manager David Moyes and prematurely returning to London. He was sold for £2.6m to Charlton Athletic in the summer of 2004. In 2004–05 he scored 5 goals in 24 matches.

He joined Rangers on loan on 31 August 2005 for six months but returned in December after his performances in the SPL failed to live up to expectation.

Charlton manager Alan Curbishley announced Jeffers would leave the club after his contract expired in the summer of 2006. He had been linked with moves to Bolton Wanderers, Championship side Coventry City, and even a return to Goodison Parkmarker for Everton.

Blackburn Rovers

Initially, Coventry City looked favourites to get his signature, only for Blackburn Roversmarker to offer him a contract. Unable to resist the lure of Premier League football, Jeffers signed for Blackburn on 30 June 2006 with a two-year contract. He scored his first and only Blackburn goal in the UEFA Cup against Basle.

He joined Championship side Ipswich Town on a one month loan deal on 2 March 2007, scoring his first goal for Ipswich on his full debut away at Hull City. In this match, he also received the man of the match award for scoring and setting up a goal. Ipswich went on to win the game 5-2. He returned to Blackburn after suffering a hamstring injury against Southend United, but having made a quick recovery, he was allowed to return to Ipswich on loan until the end of the 2006/07 season.

Ipswich had tried to negotiate a permanent move for Jeffers but after having two bids rejected (£250,000 and £600,000), Ipswich Chairman David Sheepshanks accused Blackburn of holding his club to ransom. Ipswich did however make a third and final bid for Jeffers but after all the wrangling between the two clubs, personal terms could not be agreed.

Sheffield Wednesday

Jeffers joined Sheffield Wednesday on 9 August 2007 for a fee believed to be in the region of £700,000 on a three-year deal, and was given the number-9 shirt to take the place of the Scottish footballer Steve MacLean, a former fan favourite. Jeffers made his debut in an opening-day 4-1 defeat at Ipswich Town. He sustained an injury which kept him out of action for all but 20 minutes of the first month of the 2007–08 season.

On returning from injury Jeffers was originally subjected to a level of criticism by some quarters of the Wednesday fan base. However he managed to wipe away most of that with a 25-yard screamer against Hull City after flicking the ball on to his strike partner Deon Burton for the lay off. The goal brought an end to a six-game losing streak at the start of the 2007–08 Football League Championship season.

After a lively start against Stoke City however, Jeffers was on the end of a late tackle from Ryan Shawcross and was taken off the pitch on a stretcher. First reports labelled the ankle broken, but after a couple of scans it was announced that he had damaged ligaments and would be out for roughly three months, a big blow after he had caused Stoke's defence lots of trouble in his 40 minutes on the pitch, setting up Marcus Tudgay for two goals, to help Sheffield Wednesday to a 4-2 away win.

Jeffers made his return from his ankle injury as a substitute versus Hull City, but ended up on the losing side after a 1-0 loss. Just 48 hours later Jeffers played at Hillsborough for the first time in two months, and not only played for 45 minutes of the game, but also scored the winning goal after 82 minutes from the penalty spot. This was Jeffers' second goal for the Owls.

In the summer of 2008, Jeffers had more problems with his ankle and also picked up a groin injury, leaving him injured until September 2008. Jeffers returned to first team action with a twenty five minute substitute appearance in a 6-0 defeat at Reading in mid September and then a further ten minutes against his former club Ipswich Town. Jeffers bagged his third goal for the Owls on 17 January 2009 in a 4-1 win over Charlton at Hillsborough getting his first goal for the club since New Year's Day 2008, but then got sent off in the next game against Nottingham Forest.

On 25 August 2009 Jeffers was sent off for appearing to head-butt Port Vale player Tommy Fraser during the 2–0 League Cup defeat. Manager Brian Laws considered his behaviour unacceptable, fined the player the maximum permissible, and placed him on the transfer list.

International career

He has one full cap for England, scoring a consolation goal in a defeat at the hands of Australia in 2003. He is one of 3 players to have scored on their sole appearance for England.

Jeffers is also the all-time leading scorer for England Under-21s with 13 goals, a record he shares with Alan Shearer.

International goal

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
01. 12 February 2003 Boleyn Groundmarker, Londonmarker, Englandmarker
1-2
1-3
Friendly


References

  1. "Results/fixtures: English Premier — Man Utd 2-0 Everton at Old Trafford on 26-12-1997" SoccerBase.com (Retrieved: 24 August 2009)
  2. Williamson, Laura; "You can't put a price on silver — Spurs have spent £150million more…" DailyMail.co.uk, 9 February 2009 (Retrieved: 24 August 2009)
  3. "Blackburn snap up striker Jeffers" news.BBC.co.uk (Sport), 3 July 2006 (Retrieved: 24 August 2009)
  4. "England spellbound by wizards of Oz" TheFA.com, 12 February 2003 (Retrieved: 24 August 2009)


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