Birmingham ready to say goodbye to Bowyer despite Carling Cup heroics

Lee Bowyer, one of the heroes of Birmingham City’s Carling Cup success last weekend, this week revealed that he is unlikely to remain at St Andrew’s after the end of the season. Although contract talks will be delayed until the end of the current Premier League campaign, the midfielder has said he expects to leave the Midlands club this summer.

Bowyer was quoted as saying: “My deal is done in the summer here at Birmingham. At the moment the club have said an extension isn’t going to happen, so I will be looking elsewhere. But I wanted to stay,” while the Daily Mirror reported yesterday Bowyer and his teammate Roger Johnson faced a delay in negotiations for their potential new deals, with the former’s contract expiring in June. Now 34, Bowyer has been at the centre of much controversy on the field throughout his career but lately has found himself at the centre of much of the good things about Alex McLeish’s side.

As recently as Sunday, when Birmingham defied the odds to beat Arsenal in the Carling Cup final, Bowyer was one of the more dangerous presences on the field. The eventual victors should have been awarded a penalty when Bowyer was brought down in the opening minutes, having been wrongly flagged offside to add to the insult. But Bowyer has contributed further to Birmingham’s success this season with three goals, each of which proving vital to the City cause – the winning goal against Chelsea, a last gasp equaliser against Manchester United and another equalising goal against West Ham in the Carling Cup semi-final. Those three goals have added four vital points to Birmingham’s relegation-threatened total and made the jubilant scenes at Wembley possible, arguably as telling a contribution as any Birmingham player this season.

Bowyer, a player Liverpool were once ready to pay £9m for, has frequently found the net for each club he has represented since making his Charlton Athletic debut in 1994/95. With 95 goals already to his name it is not out of the realm of possibility that Bowyer reaches three figures this campaign, having played 566 career games which equals better than a goal every six games, a ratio the envy of some strikers. Such impressive statistics, however, have often been obscured by Bowyer’s indiscretions. As well as some well-documented off-field incidents, the on-field physical confrontation with Kieron Dyer when both where Newcastle United players sullied the Londoner’s reputation.

Bowyer has also received the most yellow cards of any player in Premier League history – 98 – as well as five reds. His past indiscipline and the legal problems endured at Leeds United have overshadowed the goalscoring feats of his career, including goals against Lazio, Anderlecht, Milan and Barcelona during Leeds’ Champions League adventures in the early 2000s, continuing the theme shown this season at Birmingham of notching at important times.

But Bowyer appears a much calmer soul these days – just four bookings in 26 games – and shows no signs of slowing down. Still with plenty to offer at the Premier League level, Bowyer may be offering it somewhere other than Birmingham when next season gets underway.

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