David Connolly

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David Connolly was born in Willesden, London on the 6th June 1977 to Irish parents. The tiny striker began his career at Watford and quickly made an impact for The Hornets, scoring 10 goals in 26 games during his spell at Vicarage Road. His form earned him his first Irish cap on 29th May 1996 against Portugal. He netted his first international goal shortly after, in a 2-1 US Cup defeat to The United States. Connolly was quick to bag his second goal for his country, scoring against Mexico in the same competition three days later.

Connolly's impressive start at International level caught the attention of some big clubs, and shortly after his hatrick against Liechtenstein in 1997 he earned a move to Dutch giants Feyenoord. Connolly found his opportunities limited during his first season at the Rotterdam club, playing just 10 times. He did manage a few Champions League appearances that season though, including a start at Old Trafford in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.

During the 1998/99 season Feyenoord sent Connolly back to the UK, to spend a season on loan at Division One side Wolves. Connolly managed only six goals from 32 appearances. The highlight of his spell at Molineux came in a game at Bristol City, where he hit 4 goals past The Robins in a 6-1 win.

The next two seasons were a lot more productive for Connolly. He was loaned to SBV Excelsior in the Dutch second tier for 18 months in 1999. During his first season at the club he managed an impressive 29 goals from 32 games. The first half of the 2000/01 season he scored another 13 from just 16 matches. He was a regular for Feyenoord for the later part of the season, and managed 5 Eredivisie goals from 15.

The summer of 2001 saw Connolly leave Holland and return to England, as the Irish international joined Wimbledon on a free transfer. Connolly made an instant impression at Selhurst Park, with a goal on his debut in a 3-1 win against Birmingham. He ended the season with 18 goals from 35 appearances.

Connolly was part of the 2002 Republic of Ireland World Cup squad. After Roy Keane stormed out of the Irish training camp at Saipan shortly before the tournament kicked off, Connolly and Gary Breen were named in Keane's book as two of the players who offered their support to the Manchester United captain. Keane said the pair agreed with his view on the poor training facilities and preparation used in the build up to the competition, but couldn't drop out of the squad like Keane had done because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Keane said he understood and wished them well for the tournament.

During the World Cup itself, Connolly came on as a late substitute in the second round match against Spain, with Ireland 1-0 down and desperate for a goal. They managed one, a 90th minute penalty from Robbie Keane, which sent the game into extra time. Unfortunately, Ireland would go out on penalties however, with Connolly one of three Irish players to miss from the spot.

The next season things got much better at club level as Connolly netted 24 from 28 for the Milton Keynes bound Wimbledon. Connolly struck up a great partnership with Neil Shipperly, as The Dons narrowly missed out on the play-offs, playing in front of a deserted Selhurst Park.

Glenn Roeder brought Connolly to newly relegated West Ham in time for the start of the 2003/04 season. He managed a goal on his debut, the winner on the opening day at Preston. That was followed up with a double in the League Cup against Rushden. He hit a total of 15 goals for The Hammers that season, but missed out on the chance to play in The Premiership when West Ham - by that time now managed by Alan Pardew - lost 1-0 to Iain Dowie's Crystal Palace in the play-off final at The Millennium Stadium.

The following summer, Connolly would change clubs again, moving to another freshly relegated side, Leicester City. Ironically he made his debut for The Foxes against former club West Ham. The Irishman made a fairly slow start at The Walkers Stadium and failed to find the net until his 9th game at the club on 25th September in a match at QPR where he was also sent off. Connolly's form towards the back end of the 2004/05 season was very impressive however. He would go on to score a total of 13 that season, including a last minute equaliser in a televised Friday night game at Nottingham Forest.

After 4 goals in Leicester's opening 2 matches of the 2005/06 season, Connolly finally earned himself a move to the Premiership as Wigan spent an initial £2million to bring the front man to the JJB. He scored on his debut for The Latics at West Brom in a 2-1 victory. The goals would prove hard to come by for Connolly in the top flight however. He would only score two more at the Lancashire club, both in cup competitions.

After two final appearances for Wigan at the beginning of the 2006/07 season, Connolly linked up with his old International team mate Roy Keane, who was now manager at Sunderland. Connolly scored some big goals for The Black Cats that season as they marched to the top of the table with an amazing run of late results following a poor start to the campaign. Connolly netted a penalty at The Stadium of Light on 27th April in a 3-2 win against Burnley in the penultimate match of the season. Connolly showed immense courage to take that penalty after missing a spot kick earlier in that same game.

Sunderland were promoted to The Premiership, and Connolly was involved in Roy Keane's squad for matches at the start of the 2007/08 season, but a combination of injuries and competition for a place in the team (Sunderland had Kenwyne Jones, Michael Chopra, Anthony Stokes, Andy Cole, Daryl Murphy, Roy O'Donovan and Martin Waghorn all vying for positions up front that season) left Connolly's opportunities limited at The Stadium of Light. He made his final appearance for the club in a 3-0 FA Cup defeat against Wigan as a late substitute. He would remain at The Stadium of Light during the 2008/09 season, but failed to make a single appearance. Connolly was released by Sunderland in June 2009.

After training at Staplewood for a number of weeks, Connolly signed with Southampton on October 8th 2009 on a one year deal with an option for a second. He was brought to the club by his old West Ham manager Alan Pardew after previously being on trial at QPR. Connolly was an unused sub the next day at Southend, but made his debut for Saints the following week at Oldham. As he had done at so many of his previous clubs, Connolly scored on his debut, this time with a classy finish for Southampton's third goal of the game.

Connolly made an instant impact at St Mary's, and it's no coincidence that the team's performances improved after Connolly's arrival. Previously the Saints strike force was slightly one dimensional that season, but Connolly gave the side something different with his excellent movement and footballing intelligence. Connolly proved he was a class above most of the players he came up against and formed an excellent partnership with Rickie Lambert. He linked up brilliantly with Michail Antonio in an FA Cup 1st round tie at Bristol Rovers, hitting two goals in quick succession in a 3-2 win. He also bagged a beautiful goal in the pouring rain on November 21st against Norwich. Unfortunately, Connolly's injury problems would begin to resurface at the end of 2009. The Irishman was ruled out until March 2010, by which time Lee Barnard had been signed and established himself as a regular up front for The Saints, meaning Connolly was limited to mainly substitute appearances towards the later part of the 2009/10 season. He did manage a goal at Gillingham in the last away game of the season.

Connolly featured in most of Southampton's matches in the opening six weeks of the 2010/11 season. He struggled to replicate his form of the previous season in a Saints side that really struggled for goals. He was soon spending more time of the treatment table as injuries mounted up yet again. He scored his first goal of the season in an FA Cup 2nd round tie against Shrewsbury. It looked as though Connolly's Southampton career was as good as over until an inspired comeback in the final weeks of the campaign. The former Irish international made his return on April 5th against Charlton, and scored vital goals against Brighton, Brentford and Walsall which helped Saints secure promotion. Connolly was back to his best, and playing like a man with something to prove. On 24th May 2011 he was deservedly handed a new one year contract extension.

Connolly was key to some good early Saints performances in 2011/12. His goals and link up play with Rickie Lambert helped Nigel Adkinsís men to the top of the Championship. Connolly scored in the opening three fixtures with Leeds, Barnsley and Ipswich, before netting against former club Leicester on August 27th. On October 29th he finished off an intricate passing move in a 3-0 beating of Middlesbrough. Connolly had suffered a slight dip in form before being ruled out with injury in November. Saints didnít fare too well in his absence. He returned to the side after Christmas, and looked superb when scoring against Nottingham Forest on January 14th 2012. Connollyís movement at the City Ground that day was superb. He was slightly disappointing in the next few outings, but looked solid in February. Connolly made his final appearance of the campaign against Barnsley on 10th March 2012, before dropping out injured again.

In May 2012 Connolly left Southampton when his contract expired