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Keith Robert Gillespie (born 18 February 1975 in Larnemarker, County Antrim) is a Northern Irishmarker professional footballer who plays in midfield for Irish League side Glentoran.

Playing career

Early career

His first years were spent in Islandmageemarker, County Antrim where he attended Whitehead Primary School. He later moved to Bangor, County Downmarker where he attended Rathmore Primary School and Bangor Grammar School. He was scouted playing for St Andrews FC from Belfast, and was the first professional footballer to come from this club.

Manchester United

Gillespie signed for Manchester United on leaving school in the summer of 1991, being a member of the FA Youth Cup winning side in 1992. Also in that team were Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Gary Neville and Robbie Savage.

Gillespie made his debut for Manchester United in the 1992-93 season, and scored his first goal for the club against Bury in a 2-0 FA Cup third round triumph on 5 January 1993.

Occasional appearances for United followed over the next two years, but he was never able to displace Andrei Kanchelskis as United's first-choice right winger.

After a loan spell at Wigan Athletic in 1993-94, he moved to Newcastle United on 10 January 1995, as a £1million component in the 7 million deal (£6million cash) which took Andrew Cole to Old Traffordmarker. Ironically, Gillespie had scored one of United's goals against Newcastle in the 2-0 victory at Old Traffordmarker which had knocked Kevin Keegan's side off the top of the Premier League table less than three months earlier.

Newcastle United

Just seven months after moving to Newcastle, it was rumoured that United were interested in buying back Gillespie as their first-choice right winger Andrei Kanchelskis had moved to Everton and United's only cover in that position was the inexperienced 20-year-old David Beckham. However, the transfer never happened and Alex Ferguson soon abandoned interest in signing Gillespie or indeed any other player in that position as Beckham excelled on the right.

Meanwhile, Gillespie stayed at Newcastle for three-and-a-half years and during this time he played 143 games, including 15 European ties (in both the Champions League and UEFA Cup) and scored 13 goals. In both the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons he helped Newcastle to finish second in the Premier League (runners up to Gillespie's former club, Manchester United, on both occasions), being a key member of "The Entertainers".

In his final full season at Newcastle, the 1997-98 season, Gillespie helped Newcastle to reach the FA Cup final. However, he was not in the squad for the final and Newcastle lost to Arsenal The following season saw Gillespie depart Tyneside in a £2.3million move to Blackburn Roversmarker.

Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City

Five seasons at Ewood Parkmarker brought another 138 games and 6 goals as well as another loan spell at Wigan Athletic, bringing his total appearances for Athletic to 15 from which he scored 4 goals. He then moved to Leicester City on a free transfer playing 48 games and scoring two goals in two seasons. In his time at Blackburn he started in the 2002 Football League Cup Final in which they beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1.

Sheffield United

Gillespie signed for Sheffield United on 5 August 2005, signing a one-year contract. This was then extended to June 2007 a month later. In his first season at the club, Gillespie played a role in Sheffield United's successful promotion campaign to the Premier League.

Gillespie's most memorable goal for Sheffield United came against Charlton, where he scored the winner in the 88th minute with a stunning volley from 25 yards. This goal was also a nominee for the December goal of the month competition, but Paul Scholes eventually won.

On 20 January 2007, during a Premiership match against Reading at the Madejski Stadiummarker, Gillespie was sent off for violent conduct (elbowing Reading's Stephen Hunt) twelve seconds after coming on as a substitute. As he made his way off the pitch, Gillespie pushed Hunt in the face. He thereby achieved the dubious honour of becoming the fastest sending-off of a substitute in English football. He was sent off before the ball had come back into play, and so technically sent off being on the pitch for zero seconds of play.

The day after this incident, he stunned Sheffield United when he handed in a transfer request to the chief executive Terry Robinson.

In the summer of 2007 he was linked with a move back to the Premiership with Bolton Wanderers but, in July, Gillespie signed a new two-year contract.

In July 2008 he limped out of a pre-season friendly at Bury and missed the start of the 2008-2009 season. Having regained fitness he was unable to regain a first team place and was eventually loaned out to Charlton Athletic. He made only six appearances for the Addicks before being recalled to Bramall Lane as cover for mounting injuries.

Despite being recalled to the Blades Gillespie failed to make another appearance and on 30 January 2009 his contract was terminated by mutual consent. He went to Bradford City with whose manager Stuart McCall, Gillespie had been with at Sheffield United. However, McCall insisted Gillespie was only training with the club to stay fit and help out the younger players, and not on trial.

Bradford City

Gillespie impressed McCall during training and told the manager he was very keen to gain match experience; as a result, Gillespie signed for Bradford City in March for the rest of the 2008–09 season. Gillespie was an unused substitute in their 1–0 defeat to Exeter City and so had to wait for his debut which came as a second half substitute with City already 4–1 down to Bournemouth three days later. After just three appearances Gillespie was not offered a long-term deal by Bradford City. In the summer of 2009 he had a trial with Hungarian side Ferencvaros and has been linked with a move to the IFA Premiership.

Glentoran

In 2009, Gillespie made a shock move to the east Belfast club, Glentoran. It was believed that Gillespie's agents approched Glentoran. Keith scored his first goal for Glentoran in a 1-1 draw with Institute on the 22nd September 2009. Keith is believed to be on a £1,300 p/w wage, which is being paid for by the Glentoran sponsor, FonaCab.

Gillespie made his debut for Glentoran against Bohemians in the Setanta Cup on 29th August 2009, before making his league debut against Coleraine on 1st September 2009. He scored his first goal at The Oval against Institute on 22nd September.

International career

He is currently 4th place in the list of appearances for Northern Ireland with 86 cap. He made his debut in September 1994 in a 2-1 home defeat by Portugal. He played an important role in his country's 3-2 qualifying win against Spain at Windsor Parkmarker on 6 September 2006. Gillespie was investigated by the Irish FA for his involvement in a fracas with George McCartney on the trip back home from a game in Icelandmarker. He has not been involved with the Northern Ireland set-up since being omitted from squad to face San Marino in February 2009. His final cap was won in a 2-0 defeat by Hungary at Windsor Park in November 2008.

Manager Nigel Worthington has stated that Keith Gillespie will no longer be considered for international selection.

Honours

Club

Blackburn Rovers


References

  1. Reading 3-1 Sheff Utd
  2. FA to act after mayhem at the Madejski
  3. Let me go demands Gillespie
  4. Keith Gillespie faces inquiry over flight fracas - Football News - Telegraph


External links




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