Ryan The Heartbeat
Ryan Shawcross is in line to make his 300th league start for Stoke against Sunderland.
The captain has been an essential cog of Stoke’s success over the last nine years, starting off with a goalscoring debut against Cardiff.
Nobody could have predicted the impact a young Shawcross would have on this club when he signed on loan from Manchester United.
Tony Pulis managed to dissuade Shawcross from signing for Norwich and immediately thrust him into the line-up at Ninian Park. Shawcross’ goal was a match winning strike, and he followed it up with another goal against Rochdale a few days later.
But he wasn’t signed for his goalscoring prowess- he’s not scored since the first day of 2015- and it’s his defensive qualities that have made him such an important member of the team.
298 league starts after that debut in South Wales, Shawcross prepares to lead the team out to battle in a huge match against Sunderland.
But, nine years on from his maiden appearance, who else in the Premier League has managed to become a mainstay in their team for such a sustained period of time?
There are just six players who started for their clubs on the opening day of the 2007-08 season that could possibly start for the same team tomorrow. They are Wayne Rooney, Mark Noble, Leon Britton, Angel Rangel, Julian Speroni and Stewart Downing- who has spent time at other clubs in that time.
That’s just 2.73% of the players that started on the opening day nine years ago that are still at their clubs.
It just shows what a great achievement it is that Shawcross remains one of the first names on the teamsheet at Stoke City.
Congratulations on your 300 league starts, Ryan. Here’s to many more!
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