GLEN JOHNSON: In the second part of this Career Biography, we take a look back at Glen’s transfer trail and charter his journey through some of England’s biggest clubs.
Glen Johnson sowed the seeds of his burgeoning football career at the prestigious West Ham United youth system from the age of nine. He became a 15-year-old first year scholar in 2000 and signed a three-year professional contract with the club in 2001. In the 2001–02 season, he featured regularly for West Ham’s reserves before signing an initial four-week loan deal with local rivals Millwall in October 2002. He made his Championship debut at Carrow Road that same month and saw the loan deal extended twice, each time by a month. Johnson was eventually recalled early to Upton Park though, after seven weeks at The Den.
It wasn’t long until Johnson made his West Ham debut and he became a more significant part of the team as the year went on. He signed a new four-year deal to keep him at the Hammers but played his last game for them at the end of that season.
Two months later, Johnson signed for Chelsea for £6 million in what was the first signing under new owner Roman Abramovich. Johnson enjoyed his first goal that August, in the Champions League against Zilina.
He picked up a winners medal at the 2005 League Cup final and followed that with a league winner’s medal when Chelsea won the title that same season.
After limited appearances the next season, the 21-year-old joined Portsmouth on a season-long loan in June 2006, signalling the end of a six-month pursuit for a player that Harry Redknapp had been targeting since his return to Fratton Park. Chelsea were reluctant to loan the right-back to a rival Premiership club but Redknapp worked his magic.
Pompey made permanent
At the end of that August 2007, Johnson signed on a four-year contract in a deal believed to be for £4 million and became the club’s first choice right-back.
In November 2008, Johnson hit a 30-yard screamer with his left foot against Hull which won the Goal of the Season award. It wasn’t long before speculation arose, insinuating Johnson could make a huge money move to Merseyside and in June 2009, Portsmouth confirmed a “sizeable bid” was received, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City touted as potential bidders. Shortly after, Portsmouth accepted a bid believed to be for £18.5 million from the Reds. In dramatic fashion, Portsmouth confirmed they also accepted a bid from Chelsea two days later, and the player could choose where he wanted to go.
Liverpool were believed to have offered that £10 million bid given they were still due £7 million from the purchase of Peter Crouch the previous summer, and were willing to reduce the fee owed on signing Johnson.
Portsmouth chairman Peter Storrie said: “Glen has obviously had a fantastic season for us and has established himself as one of the best right-backs in the league if not the country at the moment. I’ve known Glen for a long time since his West Ham days so when I re-signed him we talked it over and he asked if one of the big four clubs, who were in the Champions League, came in for him would we stand in his way of a move. I said that I couldn’t do that provided the deal is good for Portsmouth and for Glen.”
Lure of Liverpool too much
On 22 June 2009, Liverpool confirmed the transfer and Johnson signed a four-year contract. His home debut saw him execute a man-of-the-match performance against Stoke, scoring his first Reds goal and getting an assist. He helped Liverpool reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League that season, playing 35 times in all competitions and scoring three goals, despite missing many games through injury. Johnson signed a contract extension at Liverpool in July 2011 for an undisclosed length of time.
In February 2012, he helped Liverpool claim their first trophy since 2006 in the League Cup final against Cardiff, scoring a penalty in the shoot-out. He played 29 times in all competitions that season under Kenny Dalglish.
Johnson went on to spend several more successful years at Liverpool before announcing in May 2015 that he would leave Liverpool at the end of the season. He was released by the club the following month.
Next stop: Stoke City
It was rumoured that Stoke were close to signing Johnson, with their boss at the time, Mark Hughes, saying, “Glen’s a very experienced player. We obviously feel that the qualities that he has will help us. Glen has played at a high level for a very long time and we can benefit from that.”
Johnson joined Stoke on a two-year contract in July 2015, making his debut in August in a 1–0 defeat against previous club Liverpool. He became Mark Hughes’s first choice right-back and played 29 times before suffering a knee injury.
Johnson signed a one-year contract extension in April 2017, making 10 2017-18 appearances in all competitions before being released at the end of the season. On 21 January 2019, Johnson announced his retirement.