Chris Birchall

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Chris Birchall
Birchall.JPG
Birchall training for the Galaxy (October 2011)
Personal information
Full nameChristopher Birchall[1]
Date of birth(1984-05-05) 5 May 1984 (age 28)[1]
Place of birthStafford, England[1]
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[1]
Playing positionMidfielder
Club information
Current clubColumbus Crew
Number8
Youth career
1993–2001Port Vale
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
2001–2006Port Vale78(7)
2006–2009Coventry City29(2)
2007St. Mirren (loan)9(0)
2008Carlisle United (loan)2(0)
2009Brighton & Hove Albion9(0)
2009–2011Los Angeles Galaxy66(1)
2012–Columbus Crew14(1)
National team
2005–Trinidad and Tobago39(4)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 4 August 2012.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 11 November 2011
 
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Chris Birchall
Birchall.JPG
Birchall training for the Galaxy (October 2011)
Personal information
Full nameChristopher Birchall[1]
Date of birth(1984-05-05) 5 May 1984 (age 28)[1]
Place of birthStafford, England[1]
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[1]
Playing positionMidfielder
Club information
Current clubColumbus Crew
Number8
Youth career
1993–2001Port Vale
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
2001–2006Port Vale78(7)
2006–2009Coventry City29(2)
2007St. Mirren (loan)9(0)
2008Carlisle United (loan)2(0)
2009Brighton & Hove Albion9(0)
2009–2011Los Angeles Galaxy66(1)
2012–Columbus Crew14(1)
National team
2005–Trinidad and Tobago39(4)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 4 August 2012.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 11 November 2011

Christopher "Chris" Birchall CM (born 5 May 1984) is an English-born Trinidad and Tobago international footballer who plays as a midfielder for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Forging his career with local club Port Vale, he earned worldwide recognition by playing at the 2006 FIFA World Cup for Trinidad and Tobago – the country of his mother's birth. His exploits led to a move up the leagues to Coventry City later that year. After short loan spells with Scottish side St. Mirren and Carlisle United, he moved on to Brighton & Hove Albion. In 2009 he moved to the United States to sign with MLS club Los Angeles Galaxy. Whilst with the Galaxy, the club were crowned Major League Soccer Conference champions in 2009 and 2011, and also completed a Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup treble in 2011. He joined Columbus Crew in May 2012.

Contents

Club career

Birchall attended Alleyne's High School in Stone, Staffordshire,[2] and started his career with Port Vale, having been associated with the Burslem based club since the age of nine. He made his debut under Brian Horton on 12 September 2001, replacing Neil Brisco 79 minutes into a 2–0 Second Round exit of the League Cup at Charlton Athletic's The Valley stadium. On 20 April 2002 he made his league debut, again replacing Brisco, this time in a 1–0 defeat by Brighton at Vale Park.

"I came up through the ranks at Port Vale from the age of 8 until I left the club at 22. I owe all the coaching to them, they nurtured me and really looked after me and had confidence in me."
—Birchall in an interview with socawarriors.net in July 2010.[3]

He made two Second Division appearances in 2002–03, both away defeats. The teenager earned his first start on 18 October 2003, he was taken off at half-time for Ian Armstrong, as he watched his teammates lose 5–1 at home to Plymouth Argyle. He also played in both games of the club's First Round FA Cup struggle over minnows Ford United. In all he made thirteen appearances in 2003–04. It was throughout the 2004–05 campaign that Birchall showed his potential, scoring seven goals in 39 games. His first senior goal was a 76th minute winner against Swindon Town on 19 October.[4] He also scored a brace against Tranmere Rovers on 7 December in a 3–1 home win.[5] At the end of the season he was voted the Young Player of the Year.[6] Birchall scored twice in 32 appearances in the 2005–06 season. However one of them, a 22nd minute winner over Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup, was enough to book the Vale a Third Round encounter with Doncaster Rovers,[7] which left the club one win away from a lucrative encounter with Aston Villa at Villa Park.

In July 2006, with the World Cup still in progress, Martin Foyle denied reports that his young midfielder would be exiting Vale Park, specifically for Ipswich Town.[8] The next month Birchall was snapped up by Micky Adams' Coventry City for a fee of £300,000 (rising to £325,000 with bonuses), signing a three year deal with the "Sky Blues".[9] He scored his first "Sky Blues" goal against Norwich City with a 20-yard (18 m) low drive.[10] He made 28 appearances in the second tier that season.

In August 2007, Birchall signed with St Mirren on loan until January 2008.[11] However he returned to Coventry in early December, after suffering a hamstring injury.[12] He only played just two games for the "Sky Blues" following his return. Not a part of Chris Coleman's plans for 2008–09, John Ward of Carlisle United expressed an interest in August 2008,[13] and had admitted speaking to the player's agent.[14] He had also been linked with a return on loan to his former club, Port Vale.[15] In November, Birchall signed for Carlisle on loan until the end of the year,[16] having taken advice from teammate Keiren Westwood.[17] When returning to Coventry, he agreed to have his contract terminated by mutual consent.[18] The midfielder also opted not to return to Carlisle, after negotiations with an unnamed American club.[19] In January 2009, Birchall joined League One side Brighton & Hove Albion on an initial week-trial with a view to earning a contract.[20] He later signed a contract until the end of the season,[21] teaming up with his old Coventry boss Micky Adams.[22] Three months later Brighton chairman Dick Knight blocked a move to Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy, telling Birchall he would not be allowed to leave the club on a free transfer.[23] Despite this setback, Birchall seemed set on a move to the American franchise.[24] He was freed from Brighton in May 2009 – along with thirteen other professionals.[25] Later that month Birchall agreed a four-year contract with the LA Galaxy.[26]

He made his official MLS debut on 16 July 2009, replacing David Beckham as a substitute 70 minutes into a game against the New York Red Bulls. He played a further eight games for Bruce Arena's side in 2009, as Galaxy topped the Conference, only to lose the MLS Cup final after a penalty shootout defeat to Real Salt Lake. Birchall started the game, but was substituted on the 79th minute for Chris Klein. He made 25 appearances in 2010, helping his team to again top the Western Conference table. He then played in the Conference Finals, where Galaxy were defeated by FC Dallas. He also played in the CONCACAF Champions League, as Galaxy were knocked out at the preliminary stage after capitulating to the Puerto Rico Islanders at The Home Depot Center.

Birchall scored his first MLS season goal against Toronto FC on 11 June 2011 in the second minute of the game; he was assisted by Miguel Pedro López. During the off-season he returned to Vale Park for fitness training.[27] He did not rule out a return to Port Vale in the future, though admitted that he was enjoying himself in LA, having made friends with Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Robbie Williams.[28] Galaxy won a treble in 2011, being crowned Supporters' Shield and Conference champions, as well as MLS Cup winners. Birchall came off the bench in the cup final, replacing Adam Cristman on 57 minutes, as Galaxy beat Houston Dynamo 1–0 thanks to a Landon Donovan goal.[29]

On 23 January 2012, Arena stated that "There hasn’t been a decision made on him [Birchall]. Originally he wanted go back to England, so we obviously agreed to that and didn't renew his option. He was looking to explore opportunities in England. Perhaps he'll want to come back."[30] He then returned to Burslem to train with Port Vale, and also raised the possibility of playing for the cash-stricken club for free whilst he weighed up his options elsewhere;[31] he said he intended to do this as he owed his career to both the club and to the manager, Micky Adams.[32] Adams said that he was hopeful of bringing Birchall back to Vale Park but said that "I smiled to myself when I saw he was playing for free, because you don't get anything for free in football."[33] Birchall was due to sign a month-to-month contract with the club in February 2012,[34] having turned out in a reserve team game.[35] However, the club were hit with a transfer embargo by the Football League before any contract was signed.[36] At the end of March, he was reported to have signed with Northwich Victoria of the Northern Premier League Premier Division, who were managed by Martin Foyle, his former manager at Vale;[37] however Birchall denied the story on his Twitter account. He elected to stay in the MLS in May 2012, after signing an unspecified "multi-year contract" with the Columbus Crew.[38]

International career

Although born in England, Birchall has represented Trinidad and Tobago at international level. He is eligible for that country because his mother was born in Port of Spain.[39]

Birchall's agent was spreading word around that he could in fact play for his mother's homeland. He was first made aware of the interest in him by Trinidad & Tobago international central defender Dennis Lawrence, who walked over to him during a game between Port Vale and Wrexham (Lawrence's club at the time). Lawrence enquired if he was indeed eligible to play for the "Soca Warriors" by saying "I hear you've got some 'Trini' blood in you?".[40] Lawrence then passed Birchall's contact details onto the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, and Birchall was called up to the full Trinidad & Tobago squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Mexico, following a couple of friendlies against Bermuda. After making his debut for the national side, it was widely reported that Birchall was the first white player to represent the country in sixty years.[41] However current Canada men's national soccer team coach Stephen Hart is white and represented Trinidad & Tobago in 1980. The "Prince of Port-of-Spain", West Indies cricketer Brian Lara, was also credited for helping the TTFA hear about Birchall after Ashley Giles made a comment about having some West Indian blood in his family. When asked by the press in Trinidad and Tobago why he qualified to play for them he replied "Me mum". This memorable response gave rise to his "Soca Warrior" nickname, ‘Me Mum’.

"At the time he joined the team he was the odd guy out but we all welcome him with open arms and he's been very much a key player to our team. He's come in and done a fantastic job and has become an influential player.
—Fellow countryman Dwight Yorke on Birchall.[42]

Undoubtedly his most important contribution to the "Soca Warriors" came on 12 November 2005, in their home (first) leg of their 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off against Bahrain. Bahrain's Salman Isa had scored in the 72nd minute and were poised to take a 1–0 lead back home for the second leg, but five minutes later, Birchall fired in a stunning goal from well outside the penalty area to equalise. The "Soca Warriors" went on to win the return leg of the play-off in Bahrain 1–0 (on a goal from Lawrence) and advance to their first ever World Cup finals. Along with goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, Birchall was the only member of the World Cup squad to have been born in England, with the remaining members all having been born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago.

In the World Cup he played all three of the country's games; against Sweden, England and Paraguay. Playing against the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney was a particularly special moment for the player who had spent his life living in England.

Following their return from the 2006 World Cup, each member of the Trinidad and Tobago national team was awarded the country's second highest honour, the Chaconia Medal in gold, plus TT$1,000,000 (about £87,500 (one quarter in cash, the rest in unit trusts)). He is therefore entitled to suffix his name "C.M." if he wishes.[43] "Soca Warrior" fans have also penned a rap song in his honour.[44]

Personal life

In 2006, Birchall and Stoke City star Andy Wilkinson invested £200,000 into Zenn Club, a nightclub in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. However in July 2008 the club was closed due to debts. The club later re-opened under new management.[45] In July 2007, it was reported that Birchall had been dating media personality Jodie Marsh for a brief time.[46]

Chris and Lucy Mulroy had their son Ashley Edward Birchall on 28 April 2009.

Birchall is affectionately known as 'Me Mum' by the Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors fans. This is because Birchall's response to a question about his right to play for Trinidad and Tobago was simply "me mum".

Statistics

Club level

As of 7 May 2012.
SeasonClubDivisionLeagueNational CupLeague CupOther[47]Total
AppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
2001–02[48]Port ValeSecond Division1000100020
2002–03[49]2000000020
2003–04[50]100300000130
2004–05[51]League One346201021397
2005–06[52]311311000352
Total787813021910
2006–07[53]Coventry CityChampionship282101000302
2007–08[54]1010100030
2007–08[54]St. Mirren (loan)SPL9000000090
2008–09[55]Carlisle United (loan)League One2000000020
Total292202000332
2008–09[55]Brighton & Hove AlbionLeague One90000010100
Total90000010100
2009[56]Los Angeles GalaxyMLS1100000110
2010[57][58][59]2801010300
2011[60][61][62]2711040321
Total6612050731
2012Columbus CrewMLS71000071
Total71000071
Career total20011121508122513

International level

Scores and results list Trinidad and Tobago's goal tally first.
CapsDateVenueOpponentResultCompetitionScoredLocation
01 (00) 2005-05-25 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Bermuda 4–0Friendly 0Trinidad and Tobago
02 (00) 2005-05-27 Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella  Bermuda 1–0Friendly 0Trinidad and Tobago
03 (00) 2005-06-04 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Panama 2–0World Cup Qualifier 0Trinidad and Tobago
04 (00) 2005-06-08 Estadio Universitario, Monterrey  Mexico 0–2World Cup Qualifier 0Mexico
05 (01) 2005-07-06 Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida  Honduras 1–1CONCACAF Gold Cup 1United States
06 (01) 2005-07-09 Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida  Panama 2–2CONCACAF Gold Cup 0United States
07 (01) 2005-07-11 Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida  Colombia 0–2CONCACAF Gold Cup 0United States
08 (01) 2005-08-17 Rentschler Field, Hartford, Connecticut  United States 0–1World Cup Qualifier 0United States
09 (01) 2005-09-03 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Guatemala 3–2World Cup Qualifier 0Trinidad and Tobago
10 (01) 2005-09-07 Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá, San José  Costa Rica 0–2World Cup Qualifier 0Costa Rica
11 (01) 2005-10-08 Estadio Rommel Fernández, Panama City  Panama 1–0World Cup Qualifier 0Panama
12 (01) 2005-10-12 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Mexico 2–1World Cup Qualifier 0Trinidad and Tobago
13 (02) 2005-11-12 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Bahrain 1–1World Cup Qualifier 1Trinidad and Tobago
14 (02) 2005-11-16 Bahrain National Stadium, Riffa  Bahrain 1–0World Cup Qualifier 0Bahrain
15 (02) 2006-02-28 Loftus Road, London  Iceland 2–0Friendly 0England
16 (02) 2006-05-10 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Peru 1–1Friendly 0Trinidad and Tobago
17 (02) 2006-05-27 UPC-Arena, Graz  Wales 1–2Friendly 0Austria
18 (03) 2006-05-31 Arena Petrol, Celje  Slovenia 1–3Friendly 1Slovenia
19 (03) 2006-06-03 Generali Arena, Prague  Czech Republic 0–3Friendly 0Czech Republic
20 (03) 2006-06-10 Westfalenstadion, Dortmund  Sweden 0–0FIFA World Cup 0Germany
21 (03) 2006-06-15 Frankenstadion, Nuremberg  England 0–2FIFA World Cup 0Germany
22 (03) 2006-06-20 Fritz-Walter-Stadion, Kaiserslautern  Paraguay 0–2FIFA World Cup 0Germany
23 (04) 2006-10-07 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 5–0Friendly 1Trinidad and Tobago
24 (04) 2006-10-11 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Panama 2–1Friendly 0Trinidad and Tobago
25 (04) 2006-11-15 Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna  Austria 1–4Friendly 0Austria
26 (04) 2008-07-30 Marvin Lee Stadium, Tunapuna  Haiti 2–0Friendly 0Trinidad and Tobago
27 (04) 2008-08-20 Estadio Pedro Marrero, Havana  Cuba 3–1World Cup Qualifier 0Cuba
28 (04) 2008-10-08 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Dominican Republic 9–0Friendly 0Trinidad and Tobago
29 (04) 2008-10-11 Estadio Mateo Flores, Guatemala City  Guatemala 0–0World Cup Qualifier 0Guatemala
30 (04) 2008-10-15 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  United States 2–1World Cup Qualifier 0Trinidad and Tobago
31 (04) 2008-11-19 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Cuba 3–0World Cup Qualifier 0Trinidad and Tobago
32 (04) 2009-02-11 Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador  El Salvador 2–2World Cup Qualifier 0El Salvador
33 (04) 2009-04-01 LP Field, Nashville, Tennessee  United States 0–3World Cup Qualifier 0United States
34 (04) 2009-06-06 Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet  Costa Rica 2–3World Cup Qualifier 0Tobago
35 (04) 2009-06-10 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City  Mexico 1–2World Cup Qualifier 0Mexico
36 (04) 2009-08-12 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  El Salvador 1–0World Cup Qualifier 0Trinidad and Tobago
37 (04) 2011-09-02 Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain  Bermuda 1–0World Cup Qualifier 0Trinidad and Tobago
38 (04) 2011-09-06 Barbados National Stadium, Bridgetown  Barbados 2–0World Cup Qualifier 0Barbados
39 (04) 2011-11-11 Providence Stadium, Providence  Guyana 1–2World Cup Qualifier 0Guyana

Honours

Individual Awards
with Los Angeles Galaxy

References

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  47. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the Football League Trophy and the CONCACAF Champions League.
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