Them and us – Roy Carroll (Latics and West Ham United)
Roy, who was born in Enniskillen on 30th September 1977 started his career with Fivemiletown United and Ballinamallard United in his native Northern Ireland before signing for Hull City as a trainee in September 1995. By the time he had made 46 league appearances for the Tigers he was a very hot prospect for the future but the club was in dire financial straits at the time, so Latics took advantage of the situation and signed him for a fee £350,000 on 30th March 1997, a record signing for the Blues at the time.
Being signed after the transfer deadline meant that he was unable to play for the remainder of the season, but during the following season (1997/98) he made 29 League appearances, becoming the automatic number one at the expense of Lee Butler. He made his Latics League debut, along with Paul Warne, on 30th August 1997 against Bristol City at Ashton gate and Latics were beaten 0-3. Little did he think then that he would be part of the team that won the Third Division championship.
The final season that the club spent at Springfield Park (1998/99) saw him make 43 League appearances and become established in the Northern Ireland squad. His domestic honours list also grew as he added an Auto Windscreens Shield winners medal to his modest collection.
During the first season at the JJB Stadium (1999/00) he made 34 League appearances before being ruled out of the last four weeks of the regular season due to contracting appendicitis. On 30th April 2000 whilst laid up in hospital, Roy was voted into the annual PFA Division Two team. The excellent performances of Derek Stillie in his absence meant that Roy didn’t figure in any of the play-off games, including the Final against Gillingham at Wembley.
His second season at the JJB Stadium (2000/01) concluded with him signing for Manchester United in a £2.500,000 deal on 27th July 2001. He signed a four-year contract for the Old Trafford club after proposed deals with both Leicester City and Everton broke down. His incoming fee was the biggest ever received by Latics at the time, easily beating the previous record of £329,000 that they received from Coventry City for Peter Atherton in 1991. In total Roy played 137 League games for the club.
His first season at Old Trafford saw him face stiff competition from Fabien Barthez but he still made enough appearances to qualify for a Premier League winners medal in May 2003. The following season saw Barthez move to Marseille, but Sir Alex Ferguson opted to sign Tim Howard which meant that Roy was still not the established goalkeeper at Old Trafford, although the FA Cup Final in May 2004 proved a boost for him as he replaced Howard after 86 minutes of the game to pick up a winners medal.
On 27th May 2005 his United contract came to an end and he was offered fresh terms, but he refused to sign the contract as Sir Alex would not guarantee him first team football. So after 49 Premier League games his time in Manchester came to an end. Just three weeks later he signed for West Ham United.
His career at the Boleyn Ground saw him make 19 league starts before he was cut down by a back injury that resulted in him missing the remainder of the 2005/06 season. Having been lucky to receive an FA Cup winners medal with Manchester United, he suffered the blow of not being able to take part in the Hammers’ FA Cup Final against Liverpool that season.
His next season at the Boleyn Ground was a personal Hell for Roy who descended into depression after amassing huge gambling debts, and after a further 17 league appearances he left the Hammers on 25th May 2007. Again Roy wanted first team football to be guaranteed, but the Hammers saw the future of the goalkeeping position as lying in the hands of Rob Green whom they had signed from Norwich City.
Roy then spent half a season at Glasgow Rangers without playing a league game for the club, his only appearance being in a Scottish League Cup game against East Fife in September 2007. It was former Latics manager Paul Jewell who gave Roy a chance to return to the Premier League and he jumped at the chance of signing for Derby County on 21st January 2008.
He was to make 30 league appearances for the Rams before Jewell himself resigned and his replacement, Nigel Clough made it clear that Roy did not figure in his plans and so on 9th August 2009 Roy began plying his trade with Danish outfit Odense Boldklub, for whom he was the Danish Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009. However, he left the club in February of this year and he is currently not involved in the game following unsuccessful trials at Sheffield United and Barnet.
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