GLEN JOHNSON: Read all about our Brand Ambassador’s career highlights in part one of this Career Biography.
Glen Johnson accrued a host of honours during an impressive career which began at West Ham’s academy. He was given his chance in the Premier League at just 18-years-old and would eventually make big money moves to Stamford Bridge and Anfield, while collecting over half-a-century of international caps.
Johnson made his Premier League debut in West Ham colours in 2003. It was a short-lived stint thereafter, making 15 league appearances and one in the FA Cup, before a fleeting loan spell at Millwall. Six months later Chelsea came calling.
It was the beginning of the Roman Abramovich era at Stamford Bridge and Johnson was his first signing. Before the year was out, Johnson earnt his maiden England cap.
A regular selection in the 2003/04 season, Johnson also featured in the second-half of the 2004/05 title-winning campaign under Jose Mourinho. He would also help the Blues lift the League Cup that same year. Appearances were harder to come by the following season and so another loan spell ensued, this time to Portsmouth. The move paid dividends for both parties and was made permanent in 2007, for approximately £4 million. Here he was reunited with Harry Redknapp who he played under in his younger days as a centre-back at West Ham, and who called him “a fantastic attacking right-back.”
He made 100 appearances in all competitions for Pompey across three seasons and lifted the FA Cup in 2008. Despite his side finishing in the second-half of the table, he was chosen in the 2008/09 PFA Team of the Year, and his incredible volley against Hull was BBC’s Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season.
Johnson continued to impress and was rewarded with a move to Liverpool for £18 million in 2009. Anfield played host to the longest part of Johnson’s career as he made his name as one of the best English defenders around. He made his home debut in August against future club Stoke City, scoring his first goal for the Reds.
Frustratingly, Johnson suffered a torn ligament in his right knee that December which ruled him out until March 2010. However, he marked his return to the line-up with a goal, scoring against Sunderland in front of the Anfield faithful.
Constant for club and county
It was good timing – Johnson maintained his fitness during the closing weeks of the season and was selected for England’s 2010 World Cup squad. He was ever-present in South Africa and was only taken off towards the end of England’s loss to Germany in the last-16.
Johnson would go on to win the League Cup for a second time with Liverpool in 2012. In fact, the 27-year-old put away one of the penalties that helped sink Cardiff City in the final’s shoot-out. That summer, he was called up once again and featured for England in Euro 2012, where he was part of the team that made it to the quarter-finals.
The 100th appearance of his Liverpool career came in August 2012, in a Europa League qualifying first-leg match in Belarus. The home leg the following week saw Johnson net a brilliant long-distance volley to give the Reds a 4-0 win on aggregate.
He scored his first league goal of the season a few months later, with yet another great strike from range. It was part of a 3-2 win over West Ham and, as fate would have it, it was the third time he had scored against his former club in a Liverpool shirt. Johnson only failed to feature for his club twice that season, taking his number of Reds appearances close to 150.
Johnson signed a contract extension, with Reds’ director of football Damien Commoli saying, “We are very pleased he wants to commit long-term, and I think he was pleased we went to him and asked him to commit long-term”. He featured in 30 matches across all competitions and was chosen by Roy Hodgson for the World Cup squad in Brazil. He played 90 minutes against both Italy and Uruguay but those defeats meant England’s World Cup was over and he was an unused substitute in the last group match.
End of an era
The 2014/15 season was to be his last in Liverpool colours and he made 28 first-team appearances across all competitions, bringing his club tally to a grand total of 200, before securing a move to Stoke City. He featured regularly there and was a consistent performer until a knee injury coincided with the Potters sliding down the Premier League table, with manager Mark Hughes citing Johnson’s absence as a “big factor”. In 2016-17 he played 25 times but after signing a contract extension only made seven appearances the following season.
In all, Johnson appeared 54 times for his country and remains the seventh most-capped England fullback. His technique, speed and flair helped him enjoy a long and successful career in the Premier League and won him fans wherever he went.