Imagine the feeling, aged just 16 years old, the manager calls you into his office and informs you that you’ll be playing in the Premier League that very Sunday. Imagine then making your debut at Goodison Park in front of a full house as Everton chase the dream of Champions League football. And then almost unbelievably, imagine scoring at the Gwladys Street End, aged just 16 years and 270 days, to become Everton’s and the Premier League’s youngest ever goal scorer.
That almost impossible story, belongs to James Vaughan, a precocious talent who burst onto the Premier League scene towards the end of the 2004-2005 season. With Everton on the rise, James Vaughan looked destined for a bright future as a Premier League and Champions League striker, unfortunately for Vaughan, the dream quickly became a nightmare as a catalogue of injuries derailed a promising career.
“It was hard for me to leave Everton in the end. The club had been my life and knowing it was coming to an end was difficult.
“Everton’s is still the first result I look for.” James Vaughan
Incredibly for such a talented player, Vaughan only started 11 games in his Everton career, scoring 9 goals, although most of these came in his 49 substitute appearances for the Blues. Vaughan suffered more bad luck in 6 years than most people experience in a life time, starting with a severed artery in his ankle just as he was establishing himself as first choice striker at the club. Several debilitating knee injuries led to a plethora of operations, and just as it appeared that the renowned surgeon, Dr Richard Steadman has resolved those ailments, he dislocated his shoulder in a pre-season game at Preston North End. That moment was the lowest point in Vaughan’s career. Talking to The Independent, Vaughan described the moment he felt the door closed for him at Everton.
“I’d scored on the last day of the [2006-07] season at Chelsea, I went away with the Under-21s [to the European Championship] and came back to Everton ready to play. In the first pre-season game I dislocated my shoulder and subsequently Everton went out and bought Yakubu for £11m so it was quite hard to get in after that. That was a really low point.”
Vaughan eventually left Everton in the Summer of 2011, joining recently promoted Norwich City. Before that, Vaughan continued to be popular with the Evertonians, who knew they had a genuinely talented player on their hands if he could only remain clear of injury. He was an integral member of the run to the FA Cup final in 2009, scoring from the spot in the successful penalty shoot out win over Manchester United in the Semi Final of the competition. Almost from that moment on however, David Moyes decided that the injuries had taken their toll, and after several loan spells at Derby County, Leicester and Crystal Palace, he departed for a new career in Norfolk.
The move to Norwich promised much for James Vaughan, but frustratingly his injury jinx quickly struck again and he made just 6 appearances for the club. When Paul Lambert departed for Aston Villa, Vaughan found himself surplus to requirements at Carrow Road. Not one to rest on his laurels, Vaughan looked for a fresh challenge and secured a loan move to Huddersfield Town which has re-ignited his career. 14 goals in 33 appearances for the Terriers, earned him their Player of the Year award and a permanent move to Yorkshire. This season has started like a dream, with 8 goals in the first 6 games. Currently the top goalscorer in all of English football, he is already been touted for a return to the Premier League and Huddersfield will be nervously awaiting the start of the January transfer window, especially if James Vaughan retains this level of form.
Let us know your views on James Vaughan? Is he good enough for a return to the Premier League? Would you like to see him be given another chance at Everton or has that opportunity gone for good?