Able to turn out at left-back or as a left-sided midfielder, current Manchester City star Wayne Bridge took his first steps on the professional football ladder at hometown club Southampton. His six seasons in the Saints’ first team featured a run of 113 consecutive Premier League appearances, a record since overtaken by Chelsea stalwart Frank Lampard, as well as helping the club reach the final of the 2003 FA Cup.
Shortly after that 1-0 defeat to Arsenal, the 22-year-old defender became at team-mate of Lampard at Stamford Bridge, with the highlight of his first season a late winner against the Gunners in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. A member of the Chelsea squad which won the 2004/05 Premier League title, Bridge missed the end of that campaign through injury, only for the Blues to spend big on Spanish left-back Asier Del Horno in the summer.
Behind both Del Horno and William Gallas in the pecking order under Jose Mourinho, in January 2006 Bridge joined neighbouring Fulham for a 12-game loan spell – a run that helped secure his place in England’s squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™. Following that tournament in Germany, however, Chelsea swooped for England and Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole. Cole swiftly made the berth his own, with Bridge restricted to a back-up role until opting for a summer 2009 move to Manchester City.
As far as international duty is concerned, Bridge collected eight caps for this country’s U-21 side while still at Southampton before going on to make his senior debut in a friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on 13 February 2002 under then coach Sven-Goran Eriksson. He made two substitute appearances at that summer’s finals in Korea/Japan, but it was not until a 6-1 victory over Iceland in 2004 that he scored his first senior goal.