However, there have been a few members of the squad who have remained at Clayton Wood each season since the Welshman’s arrival four years ago. Jonathan Walters, along with Ryan Shawcross, Charlie Adam, Geoff Cameron, Glenn Whelan and Peter Crouch had been a member of that select group up until today.
However, the former Ipswich Town striker is moving onto pastures new, as he heads north to join Sean Dyche at Burnley for a fee of around £2 million as the Lancashire side look ahead to their second season in the Premier League.
Since arriving at Stoke in August 2010 from Ipswich for the figure of £2.75 million, the Republic of Ireland stalwart has gone on to make 271 appearances over his seven seasons in Staffordshire. Establishing himself as a first choice regular under Tony Pulis, he scored twice as Stoke pummelled Bolton in the FA Cup Semi-Final to reach the FA Cup final for the first time in the club’s history.
Despite starting in the FA Cup final a month later against Manchester City, he was unable to repeat the heroic’s of that April afternoon. But in his first season he had endeared himself to the Stoke faithful, as he finished joint top scorer alongside Kenwyne Jones with 12 goals in 46 appearances.
During his time at Stoke, Walters was described by Pulis as having the ‘British bulldog spirit’ and ‘giving everything’ after he made a goal scoring return after a spell out of the side against Crystal Palace in January 2013.
It was those qualities which saw Walters become a cult hero in Stoke among fans and players alike, with his willingness to keep fighting and giving his all even if Stoke were already consigned to defeat.
Despite the revamp of the squad under Mark Hughes, including the additions of the likes of Bojan and Marko Arnautovic, Walters has remained the spearhead of Stoke’s attack as Hughes led Stoke to 9th place finishes over the three consecutive years.
Although many would consider his return of 62 goals in 271 appearances across his seven seasons in red and white to be on the low side, some would describe the forward as a scorer of memorable and vital goals rather than one of consistent goals, with a penalty against QPR in April 2013 effectively securing Stoke’s Premier League as the threat of relegation loomed large in Tony Pulis’ final season in charge.
His aforementioned goals against Bolton at Wembley in April 2011, a stunning goal against Chelsea two weeks before that memorable day at Wembley, along with scoring against Liverpool in May 2015 as Stoke recorded their most impressive result since being promoted in 2008 as Mark Hughes’ side decimated Liverpool 6-1 on the final day of the 2014-15 season. He also made history, when in July 2011, he scored Stoke’s first goal in the Europa League against Hadjuk Split.
It’s fair to say Walters will be fondly remembered by the Stoke faithful and will be warmly welcomed back when he returns with Burnley later in the season.