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The 1999/2000 season didn’t have the most interesting title race: Manchester United won the Premier League by 19 points and weren’t even among the great United sides of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
However, there was plenty else to sustain the interest, not least because it featured two of the Premier League’s great lost talents.
In the summer of 1999 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink rather aggressively lobbied for a transfer away from Leeds, eventually getting it when he signed for Atletico Madrid.
His replacement was relatively low-key: Michael Bridges had only scored 16 goals in 79 appearances for Sunderland, but Leeds paid £5million for him, and his performance in subsequent season made that look like a bargain.
“Leeds didn’t miss Hasselbaink too much because of the form of Bridges,” said Matt Davies-Adams on the Totally Football Show this week, as we discussed the 1999/2000 season as part of our look back on the Premier League years, “He had come in from Sunderland and ended up scoring 21 goals in all competitions.
“He was an England Under-21 international with the world seemingly at his feet, but the number of games he played over the next few years was tiny, because he had a really serious knee injury.
“After this season he went four years without scoring another goal, and that goal he eventually scored was for Carlisle in League One. It just shows how injury destroyed what was looking like a really promising career.”
Daniel Storey added: “His season was absolutely remarkable – it was one of the most astounding Premier League seasons in my eyes.”
If Bridges’s career was at what we thought was its start in 1999/2000, Stan Collymore’s was ultimately coming to its end. He was out of favour at Aston Villa, manager John Gregory’s rather less progressive attitudes to mental health being one factor in his lack of success there.
He signed for Martin O’Neill at Leicester in the February of 2000, made an instant impact but then it all went downhill.
“This is Stan Collymore’s playing career in microcosm,” said Matt Davies-Adams. “You get every side of him: he scored a hat-trick against Sunderland, he got four goals in six games for Leicester this season. You get a ‘fracas’ on a team bonding trip to Spain, and a horrific leg break against Derby, which really ought to have ended his career, and all-but did.
“It’s this sort of ‘tragicomic with flashes of brilliance’ [mix] that really did define Collymore’s playing career. That season he had with Nottingham Forest in 1994/95, when he looked one of the best strikers in the division, then he moved to Liverpool and you thought he could go on and have a long and glorious career there – here we are in 2000, five or six years later, he’s basically finished as a Premier League player.
“Like Bridges, he’s a lost Premier League great, somebody whose career got nowhere near the heights it should have. This spell encapsulates that in quite a sad way.”
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