Once the EPL’s next big thing, earning $130,000 a week. Now Rodwell’s moving to Sydney
One of English football’s greatest unfulfilled talents, Jack Rodwell, is moving to Sydney – and two A-League clubs are ready to give him a chance at reviving his stalled career.
Rodwell was touted as a star of the future when he made his professional debut for Everton at age 16, before earning a $22 million transfer to Manchester City in 2012 – just weeks after they’d won the Premier League for the first time in 44 years.
Jack Rodwell’s last club was Sheffield United, with whom he played only several games.Credit:Getty
But a combination of injury and form problems ensured he would never live up to the early hype that surrounded him, with the now 30-year-old looking for a fresh start in life and in football.
Rodwell is currently undergoing quarantine in Darwin after flying into the country earlier this week with his wife, Alana, who is originally from western Sydney.
The family has decided to move permanently to Australia, with free agent Rodwell keen to continue playing after recently leaving Sheffield United, where he played just 73 minutes across two seasons.
A-League sources have indicated Sydney FC has no interest in the midfielder, but both Western Sydney Wanderers and Macarthur FC have made contact with him and are interested in potentially bringing him on board, although talks with both are at a very early stage.
Jack Rodwell has played in Australia before, featuring for Everton in a 2010 friendly against Sydney FC.Credit:Anthony Johnson
Rodwell’s name still carries weight among Premier League fans, although mainly due to infamy for failing to develop into the world-class player many tipped he would be.
But the three-time former English international would be another high-profile addition to the A-League this season, adding to Perth Glory’s recent coup in signing ex-Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge.
Like with Sturridge, there are serious question marks over Rodwell’s fitness and capability. With the exception of the 2018-19 season he spent with second-tier Blackburn Rovers, Rodwell has not played regular football since his penultimate season with Sunderland nearly five years ago – and when he did, he didn’t exactly earn rave reviews.
Two local newspapers in Sunderland labelled Rodwell as one of the worst signings in their history, having earned as much as $130,000 per week during a period of terminal decline for the club after their relegation from the Premier League – all captured in the Netflix series Sunderland ’Til I Die.
Jack Rodwell celebrates scoring for Sunderland in 2015 against his old Premier League club Manchester City.Credit:Getty
It’s unlikely Rodwell would attract marquee wages and with the A-League season due to begin on November 19, it may be some time before he is fit enough to play, and a recent unsuccessful trial with an MLS team does not bode particularly well, but the Wanderers and Bulls are at least open to rolling the dice on him. Both clubs declined to comment.
Meanwhile, A-League players who choose not to get vaccinated for COVID-19 are facing the prospect of exclusion from training sessions and friendly games as well as competitive matches due to government and venue protocols.
In particular, unvaccinated players and staff at Victorian A-League clubs from Friday will not be allowed to partake in any activity if they don’t have at least one dose of vaccine after a state government mandate. They must be fully vaccinated by November 26.
A-League commissioner Greg O’Rourke said two per-cent of the players in Victoria are yet to get vaccinated, with some known to the Herald remaining firm in their stance against getting the jab. Several other holdouts at a NSW-based club have since been convinced to receive the vaccine, according to sources.
“The A-Leagues men’s and women’s seasons will begin on November 19 and December 3 respectively – just over a month away. With more than 98% of players compliant with the Victorian mandate, we are all ready to go for the start of the football seasons,” O’Rourke said.
The A-Leagues are yet to announce its regulations and protocols on vaccinations and is following the advice and legislation of state and federal governments. Senior sources suggest the competitions are monitoring the fluid nature of the easing of restrictions while venue, government and transport regulations will dictate the eligibility of unvaccinated players and staff to take part in the competition.
Unlike in Victoria, NSW authorities are yet to mandate vaccines for athletes to continue on-site training.
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