Earning his spurs

Darren Bent earned an England cap in the build-up to the 2006 World Cup but was ultimately overlooked by the coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.-AP

Darren Bent hails from Cambridge but was taken on by Ipswich Town as a youngster and he came through its youth system. He broke into the first team in 2001-02, making his debut in a UEFA Cup match against Helsingborg, writes Andy Hampson.

Darren Bent

Darren Bent, a regular England squad member, is hoping to take his career up to the next level following a remarkable GBP16.5 million move across London from Charlton to Barclays English Premier League Tottenham.

The fleet-footed Bent hails from Cambridge but was taken on by Ipswich Town as a youngster and he came through its youth system. He broke into the first team in 2001-02, making his debut in a UEFA Cup match against Helsingborg but it was to be some ti me before he truly established himself.

Ipswich was relegated in 2002, allowing Bent to find his feet at a lower level. He earned England Under-21 recognition the following year and he started to come of age in 2003-04, when he netted 18 goals. He maintained the momentum in his next campaign, scoring 19 times, and although the club did not win promotion he decided he was ready for the top flight and joined Charlton.

It proved a brilliant career move and Charlton more than received its money’s worth for its GBP2.7 million. Bent went on to finish third in the English Premier League’s goal-scoring chart with 18 (22 in all competitions) and was actually the highest-placed Englishman, a feat that earned him an England cap in the build-up to the World Cup. He was thought to have a strong chance of going to the tournament in Germany but was ultimately overlooked by the then coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

He scored another 15 goals last season but could not prevent Charlton’s relegation from the EPL. It was always unlikely that he would remain at The Valley to play another season in the English Coca-Cola Championship despite the club’s best efforts to persuade him to stay and Tottenham proved the club willing to pay the most.

Bent was left to wonder what might have been as he watched England struggle in the World Cup last summer. Bent could have done no more to earn a place in the squad but Eriksson left him out — as well as another fine forward in Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe — in a strange selection that is still puzzling. Eriksson chose only four strikers, two of whom — Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen — were still recovering from serious injuries. Added to them were the hard-working but inconsistent Peter Crouch and an untried 17-year-old in Theo Walcott. England failed to impress and was dumped out in the quarterfinals.

Bent is currently thought to be single but has in the past been linked to Gemma Atkinson, the model and actress currently dating Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bent is one of a number of EPL players to own an Aston Martin DB9, a “thoroughbred sports car” which boasts “GT levels of comfort and refinement”, according to the manufacturers. The DB9 costs around GBP110,000 and has a top speed of 186mph.

Factfile Name: Darren Bent Position: Striker Club: Tottenham DOB: 06/02/1984 England caps: 2 England goals: 0 England debut: v Uruguay, March 2006 Moment to remember

Bent made a dramatic impact on his arrival at Charlton, scoring six times in eight pre-season games. It did not stop there, though, and his EPL debut for the club was the stuff of dreams. He needed only 11 minutes to open his account in the clash with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and added a second to secure a 3-1 win in injury time.

Moment to forget

Bent’s England debut against Uruguay in a friendly at Anfield was something to be proud of, but it was ultimately a frustrating experience. Bent struggled to get into the game and could not make the most of the few half-chances that came his way. His failure to score possibly cost him a World Cup place. He has made just one England appearance since, as a late substitute in a friendly win over Greece at the beginning of last season.

@ PA Sport, 2007, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.