Having broken the Football League consecutive clean-sheets record as youngster on loan at Stockport, Wolves’ 2007/08 player of the Wayne Hennessey looked destined for a long career at the top level, but in five seasons since he’s failed to so much as establish himself as the number one at Molineux. The latest nadir in a career of largely unfulfilled promise saw him loaned out to Yeovil Town and reminded us of just how hard it can be for the rising stars of the game’s loneliest position to fulfil their promise.
Hennessey’s Wolves are 3/1 favourites to win the League One title, having kept two clean sheets without him this term. Here are four more keepers who looked destined for the top only to lose their way on that slippery slope.
Gordon became the first keeper since Rangers legend Andy Goram to scoop the Scottish Football Writers player of the year award in 2005/06, after which he excited interest from Arsenal and Manchester United. Eventually he left Hearts for Sunderland, having been the youngest player ever inducted into the club’s hall of fame.
Despite finding time to make a save from Zat Knight that was later voted the greatest save of the Premier League’s first 20 seasons, injuries destroyed his Stadium of Light tenure and – aged just 30 – he has been without a club since the end of the 2011/12 campaign.
Like Gordon, Kirkland was once the most expensive goalkeeper in British history when – after a deeply impressive debut campaign for Coventry – he left the club for Liverpool aged just 20.
On his first decent run of starts at Anfield he kept six clean sheets in 14 games before injury intervened, but with fragility a constant thorn in his side, he was never able to regain number one status, eventually slipping to fourth in the glovesman’s pecking order by the time he left Anfield.
Injuries continued to mar his top flight career and the long-time England understudy – who eventually managed just one substitute appearance for his nation – now operates in the lower reaches of the Championship.
Rock solid for Venezia in Serie A in the previous campaign, Taibi was brought to Old Trafford for £4.5m and thrust straight into the bile-filled atmosphere of a clash with Liverpool, where he flapped ineffectually at a cross, allowing Sammi Hyypia to score. Two games later he allowed an innocuous toe-punt from Matt Le Tissier through his legs as Southampton held on to draw 3-3.
A 5-0 hammering at the hands of Chelsea next time out sealed his fate and he never represented the club again. Still highly respected at Venezia and subsequent employers Reggina, it was perhaps somewhat unfair treatment for a man who had earned the man of the match champagne in two of his four games for United.
Amassing 298 appearances for Ipswich after making his debut aged just 17, Wright was signed by Arsenal in 2001, with Arsene Wenger seeing him as the long-term successor to David Seaman. Sadly his first run in the team saw him punch the ball into his own net in a defeat against Charlton and ended up third-choice stopper behind perennial understudy Stuart Taylor, lasting just a season at Highbury.
He then managed 60 games at Everton, but injuries intervened including when damaging his shoulder falling out of a loft and he ended up losing his place to creaking veteran Nigel Martyn. After slipping down a division and barely playing save a spell back at Portman Road – he’s now spending his days understudying Manchester City understudy Costel Pantilimon.