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Lee Stuart Sharpe (born 27 May 1971 in Halesowenmarker, Worcestershire) is a retired Englishmarker football player. Predominantly a left winger, Sharpe once played for Manchester United and was a promising young player in English football, but his career went into rapid decline while he was still in his twenties.

Sharpe finally retired from professional football in 2003, and since then he has achieved renewed fame by appearing on reality television shows.

Professional football career

An Aston Villa supporter, Sharpe began his career at Torquay United. However, in his first season with them, after only 16 games, Manchester United noted his potential and swooped to sign him in June 1988 for £200,000, a record fee at the time for a YTS player.

Sharpe made his debut for Manchester United on 24 September 1988 as a substitute in a 2-0 win over West Ham United in the Football League First Division. His first team chances increased in November with the departure of the club's first choice left winger Jesper Olsen, and were further enhanced when new signing Ralph Milne failed to live up to expectations. Sharpe ended the 1988-89 season with 22 league appearances to his name, although he failed to score and United finished a disappointing 11th in the league a year after finishing second. He played 30 games in all competitions that season. [807999]

The following season, Sharpe found the net for the first time in a United shirt, scoring in the 5-1 home win over Millwall on 16 September 1989. He managed 18 appearances in the league that season (and 20 in all competitions), but failed to make the squad for the FA Cup final which United won 1-0 against Crystal Palace in a replay after drawing 3-3 in the first match. Alex Ferguson had chosen new signing Danny Wallace as his first choice left winger for the 1989-90 season. [808000]

He played a key part in United's success in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1990-91, and famously scored a hat-trick against Arsenal at Highbury in the League Cup fourth round on 28 November 1990. United eventually won the game 6–2. Sharpe himself cites this as one of the best memories in his footballing career. He was now United's first choice left winger ahead of Danny Wallace, although a new rival for the left wing position was emerging in the shape of highly promising 17-year-old Ryan Giggs.

Having established himself as a left winger, Sharpe earned a call up to the England squad, although he was unable to replace John Barnes as first choice left winger. Unfortunately, he was then out of the game for long periods of time through injury and illness (he suffered from viral meningitis in the autumn of 1992) and when his fitness recovered, the form of Ryan Giggs meant he had normally to play out of position at left back (by now the preferred position for Denis Irwin) or on the right wing, competing for a place with Andrei Kanchelskis. In total he played 265 games for Manchester United during eight years there, scoring 36 goals.

Sharpe is well remembered for his memorable goal against FC Barcelona during the 1994-1995 Champions League season, when he spectacularly backheeled a cross from Brian McClair into the net.

Despite his injury history, Leeds United signed him for £4.5 million in the summer of 1996, making him their record signing. Again his time at Leeds was beset by further injuries. He made 26 Premiership appearances in 1996–97, scoring five goals, but a pre-season knee injury ruled him out for the entire 1997–98 season and he was unable to regain his place in the team on recovery.

In the autumn of 1998, he was loaned to Italianmarker Serie A strugglers Sampdoria, but soon fell out of favour and in the New Year he returned to England. He signed on loan for Bradford City in March 1999 and he helped in securing the club's promotion to the Premiership after 77 years outside the top division. He joined Bradford in a £250,000 deal during the summer and helped preserve the club's Premiership status in 1999–00.

In 2000–01, Sharpe lost his place in the Bradford team and just before Christmas went on loan to Division One Portsmouth. He returned to Bradford during the 2001–02 season but when his contract expired at the end of the season he was given a free transfer. Following a brief trial stay with Grimsby Town he signed for Exeter City before he moved to Grindavík in Icelandmarker. In June 2003 he announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 32. Just before this, he was rumoured to be on the verge of taking over as player-manager at Bury in Division Three. [808001]

In February 2004, Sharpe made a brief return to football in the Kidderminster Sunday League with Hoobrook Crown before signing for Northern Counties East Premier League side Garforth Town the following summer.

Sharpe was capped eight times by England between 1991 and 1995.

After football

In 2004 and 2006, Sharpe was a football pundit for ESPN Star in Asia, and together with Les Ferdinand, is a celebrity host on the game show "Kickoff" where he is known as "Sharpey". Sharpe is a pundit on BBC's Match of the Day 2 and "Football Focus", and during the 2006 World Cup presented a cup blog from Germany with video clips and photos for Yahoo. Sharpe appeared in one episode of the footballing drama Dream Team.

Sharpe has also developed a career in reality television. He appeared as a competitor in the 2005, ITV television show Celebrity Wrestling, under the name "Sharpe Shooter". He is best known though for appearing in Celebrity Love Island. During his time on the Island Sharpe courted the attentions of many of the show's ladies, most notably TV presenter Jayne Middlemiss, who confessed to "never having felt like this before about someone", but Sharpe eventually dated Abi Titmuss.

On 25 August 2005 Sharpe's autobiography My Idea of Fun was published, describing his time as a footballer and his resulting celebrity status.

In 2007 Sharpe appeared as a contestant in ITV's Dancing On Ice. He was eliminated from the competition on 3 March 2007. He was to also appear in ITV's popular TV soap Coronation Streetmarker as an extra in the fictional pub "The Rovers Return" as a working class taxi driver from Manchestermarker.

Sharpe, alongside former Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker, currently fronts a London Underground advertising campaign for Nourkrin, a baldness treatment. He is billed as "Of Celebrity Love Island fame!"

In 2008, Sharpe starred in Dec's team on Ant versus Dec, on Saturday Night Takeaway ITV1.

Sharpe also starred as the celebrity 'hider' in an episode of the CBBC show Hider in the House.

Appeared in the 2008 television series Superstars on Channel Five.

In August 2009. he appeared in the RTÉ One series, Charity Lords of the Ring.

Personal life

Sharpe dated Joanne Petty from 2003, and the couple lived together in Leedsmarker. They split in 2005 after two years, shortly before he went on "Celebrity Love Island" and fell for co-star Abi Titmuss.

After he dated other women, Sharpe and Titmuss split up, but by February 2007 he was back with Petty.

On Sunday July 1 2007 Sharpe was due to play for Manchester United in the Masters Football, but had to pull out on the day.

Sharpe is now an after dinner speaker for Manchester United.

References

  1. Lee Sharpe | Small talk | Guardian Unlimited Sport
  2. FC Barcelona - Manchester United: A Historical Look
  3. JO'S LOVER- LEE - Sunday Mirror


External links




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