Controversial as ever

Andy Carroll has played his part in West Ham’s recent revival, despite a red card against Swansea and a subsequent three-match ban. Life is never dull when Carroll is around, but there is still time for him to be the saviour of West Ham’s season. By Sam Walker.

Andy Carroll is one of the most controversial characters in the English game. Whether he is performing on the pitch, demanding huge transfer fees or getting into scrapes off the pitch, Carroll always seems to be involved in the headlines.

Now, after finally returning to the team following more fitness problems, West Ham fans are desperate for the striker to let his goals do the talking and keep them in the English Premier League.

Born in Gateshead, Carroll grew up as a Newcastle fan and joined their academy at the age of 16. He made his debut for the Magpies as a 17-year-old in a UEFA Cup match away to Palermo, becoming the youngest player to represent the club in Europe, and in 2007 was named the rising star of north-east football.

A loan spell in the Championship with Preston allowed him to gain valuable first-team experience and he became a regular in the England under-19 squad, although was once sent home for breaking a curfew along with team-mates Scott Sinclair and Ryan Bertrand.

Carroll made 16 first-team appearances for the Magpies during the 2008/9 season and scored against West Ham on his full home debut but could not prevent his boyhood club being relegated from the EPL.

Incidents off the pitch soon became a regular occurrence and he accepted a police caution after being arrested in September 2009. Three months later he was arrested in the aftermath of a nightclub fight, again in Newcastle, and accused of smashing a glass in a man’s face. He was later found guilty of common assault, fined GBP1,000 and ordered to pay GBP2,500 compensation.

In March 2010, Carroll was allegedly involved in an altercation with team-mate Steven Taylor during training that left Taylor with a broken jaw.

Carroll reportedly suffered a broken hand in the incident, and shortly afterwards he was photographed at a pop concert with bandages to both hands and also wore gloves to cover up his hands during a league match. Nobody from the club was willing to comment on the incident and no charges were pressed.

On the pitch, at least, Carroll revelled in the role as the main striker for the Magpies during their drop into the second tier of English football. He netted 17 league goals, 11 of them in the final 18 matches, as Newcastle were crowned champions and Carroll was named in the team of the year.

The return to the EPL began well as Carroll netted a hat-trick in the opening home game of the season, a 6-0 victory over Aston Villa.

He was in the headlines for the wrong reasons again in October 2010 though, when he was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Claiming self-defence, Carroll was granted bail on the condition that he resided with then Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan until the case resumed in January. The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence.

During his time living with Nolan, Carroll’s car was set alight whilst parked on Nolan’s driveway, with the club captain’s garage door also being daubed with obscenities.

Despite his off-the-field problems, England manager Fabio Capello picked Carroll for a friendly against France at Wembley and he started in the 2-1 defeat.

His impressive performances, including a goal in a 3-1 home win against Liverpool, meant the Reds turned to Carroll and made him their record GBP35million signing following the sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea.

Another injury delayed his debut until March but he had less fitness problems the following season, making 45 appearances. He only scored nine goals but some of them were important, including in the Merseyside derby at Everton, the FA Cup semi-final against the same opponents plus in the final itself against Chelsea.

Carroll described his match-winning goal in the semi-final as “the best feeling ever,” with Liverpool team-mate Jamie Carragher saying the goal was “worth GBP35million in itself” and that Carroll would “be remembered forever.”

New England boss Roy Hodgson picked Carroll in his EURO 2012 squad and started him against Sweden, Ukraine and Italy, with his faith rewarded by Carroll scoring the only goal against the Swedes with a trademark header.

Former Liverpool and Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan stated Carroll “is probably in the top three headers of a ball I have ever seen in football” and that made him the perfect fit for West Ham boss Sam Allardyce’s style of football.

The striker moved on loan to Upton Park for the 2012/13 season before the deal was made permanent for a GBP15million fee. Injury then ruled him out until January but he has since played his part in West Ham’s revival, despite a red card against Swansea and a subsequent three-match ban. Life is never dull when Carroll is around, but there is still time for him to be the saviour of West Ham’s season.

The striker is not yet married but is in a relationship with former reality TV star Billi Mucklow.

FACTFILE THE PLAYER: Andy Carroll POSITION: Striker CLUB: West Ham DOB: 6/1/89 INTERNATIONAL CAPS: 9 INTERNATIONAL GOALS: 2

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Scoring Liverpool’s winner in the FA Cup semi-final against arch-rival Everton in 2012.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Being sent off for West Ham last month in just his fifth game back after injury.

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