|Date of Birth||
22 July 1984
|Place of Birth||
1.80 m (5'11")
Stewart Downing (born 22 July 1984) is an English footballer who played for Liverpool from 2011 until 2013 as a winger. Recruited in the summer of 2011 by Kenny Dalglish for a sum in the region of £20,000,000, the intention for Downing was seemingly to provide ammunition for Liverpool's record signing, 6-foot-3 target man Andy Carroll. Both men however experienced underwhelming careers at Anfield and both became symbols of Liverpool's hugely profligate transfer activity under Dalglish and Director of Football Damien Comolli. After Dalglish's departure in 2012, new manager Brendan Rodgers gave Downing the opportunity to stake his claim for a place in the Liverpool team, however in the summer of 2013, after clocking up a total of 91 games for the club and netting only seven goals, Liverpool accepted a £14,000,000 loss on the player as he sealed a move to West Ham United- the same club where Carroll had also moved a month prior.
During the 2011 summer transfer window, Liverpool made Aston Villa's 2011 Player of the Year Downing a priority signing. Liverpool failed with two bids, reportedly worth £12,500,000 and £15,000,000 before agreeing a fee with Villa on July 13 2011 after Downing submitted a transfer request. The deal was reported to be worth £20,000,000. Downing completed his move to Anfield on a long-term contract on July 15 2011. On July 18 2011, Downing was handed the number 19 shirt for the 2011-12 season, previously worn by Ryan Babel and Fernando Morientes.
Downing made his debut for Liverpool in a friendly on 23 July 2011 in the 0-3 loss against Hull. He made his competitive debut against Sunderland on the opening day of the 2011-12 season. He made a bright start to life at Anfield with lively attacking displays, however as the season progressed, his form began to dip and he found himself struggling to hold down a regular spot in the starting XI. This was at least in part due to the fine form of Craig Bellamy, but there have also been suggestions that Downing's confidence suffered as he failed to score a goal or claim an assist for his new club, despite the fact that he had hit the woodwork on no fewer than three occasions in the first half of the season.
Downing had to wait until 6 January 2012 to break his goalscoring duck, when he scored against Oldham in the FA Cup third round. Downing continued his upturn in form with a performance in the 2012 League Cup Final success over Cardiff City that was a strong candidate for man-of-the-match. He also scored in the shootout after Steven Gerrard and Charlie Adam missed, helping Liverpool to come back and win the cup. On 18 March 2012, Downing fired a well-worked second half winner against Stoke in the FA Cup quarter-final tie at Anfield, sending Liverpool through to a semi-final tie at Wembley- the teams second Wembley appearance of the season.
Downing's season for Liverpool rather petered out, with him infamously completing the Premier League campaign having failed to register a single goal or assist for his team. He did score however in Liverpool's first competitive game of the 2012-13 season- an away 1-0 win against Belarussian side FC Gomel in a Europa League qualifying round tie. Midway through the second half, Downing cut in from the right and fired an impressive shot from distance into the net. In late August, new manager Brendan Rodgers spoke about the possibility of deploying Downing in a deeper wing back role, and on 30 August 2012, played 90 minutes in the position against Hearts at Anfield in the Europa League. On 25 October 2012, Downing netted his second goal of the season- scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory over Anzhi Makhachkala with a rasping right-footed shot into the far corner of the net.
After a protracted period of time on the sidelines, Downing confirmed on 15 December 2012 that he had been told by Liverpool he could look for a new club in the impending January transfer window. However, this also came at a time when Downing was beginning to reclaim his place in the starting XI- largely filling in at left back when Jose Enrique suffered injury. His performances were met with some praise, however on 22 December 2012, Downing played a starring role in the club's 4-0 win over Fulham. After spending much of his Anfield career mocked for his lack of a single league goal or assist for Liverpool, Downing claimed both in the match- first he provided an assist for Steven Gerrard to score Liverpool's second goal with an impressive defence-splitting pass, and then thrashed in Liverpool's third goal after cutting in from the right flank. Following the match, Brendan Rodgers stated that Downing would be "going nowhere" if he was to continue performing to the same standards.
On 2 March 2013, Downing netted his second Premier League goal in the opening stages of the 4-0 away win over Wigan, scoring with a close-range header from a Philippe Coutinho cross. Downing netted again in Liverpool's next match- a home game against Tottenham on 10 March 2013. With Liverpool trailing 2-1, Downing chased down a poor backpass from Spurs' right back Kyle Walker, beat the on-rushing Hugo Lloris before slotting the ball through the legs of Jan Vertonghen on the line. Liverpool went on to win the match 3-2, with Downing collecting the Liverpool FC journalist's man of the match award. Downing continued to be an ever-present for Liverpool and, on 31 March 2013, he claimed in an interview with the press that Brendan Rodgers had now informed him was not for sale- a stark contrast to what he had been told only four months prior.
On 27 April 2013, Downing claimed two assists as Liverpool beat Newcastle 6-0 at St. James' Park, first whipping in a cross for Daniel Agger to open the scoring, then teeing up Fabio Borini to score Liverpool's fifth of the afternoon. Despite his promising end to the season, Liverpool strengthened their attacking options in the summer with the purchases of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto. It also became apparent over pre-season that the club intended to give Jordon Ibe a greater role in the first team. These developments appeared to cast fresh doubt over Downing's position at the club. After Downing rejected a move to West Ham early in the transfer window, and strongly denied suggestion that he will leave, Liverpool reportedly struck a £6,000,000 deal with West Ham on 11 August 2013. Downing underwent a medical with the Upton Park club the following day with a view to sealing his transfer there- which would see him link up with ex-Liverpool teammate Andy Carroll. Liverpool confirmed the completion of the sale on 13 August 2013.
- League Cup: 1 (2012)
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