Nine years ago today, the highest scoring game in Premier League history was played as Portsmouth defeated Reading 7-4 at Fratton Park. It beat the record that had stood for over since 13 years since Southampton defeated Norwich 5-4 in April 1994. With nine different scorers, the match also holds the record for the most goal scorers in a Premier League match, jointly held with Arsenal’s 5–4 win at Tottenham in 2004.
Two Benjani goals had the home side leading 2–0 before Stephen Hunt struck on the stroke of half-time and David James then gifted Dave Kitson an equaliser. Hermann Hreidarsson restored the lead before James atoned for his error by keeping out a Nicky Shorey penalty. Benjani restored the two-goal lead and Niko Kranjcar, Sean Davis (later credited to Ivar Ingimarsson via a huge deflection) and Sulley Muntari sealed victory, with Shane Long responding between that and a deflected Nicky Shorey strike was the final goal (this was also later credited as an own goal by Portsmouth defender Sol Campbell). A staggering six goals hit the back of the net during the last twenty minutes alone (though two were scored in injury time).
The two clubs are of course no longer in the English top division, with Pompey dropping to League Two via multiple administrations and ownership problems. But what has happened since to the 25 players who featured that day and where are they now?
GK: David James
It was an afternoon of mixed emotions for the Pompey shot stopper, who gifted Dave Kitson a goal before saving a Nicky Shorey penalty. He would stay at Fratton Park until 2010, the year he also retired from international football having earned 53 England caps. His final two clubs in England were Bristol City and Bournemouth before finishing his career with two spells abroad – first with IBV in Iceland in 2013, and then with Kerala Blasters in India in 2014, who he also managed for a short period of time. Off the pitch, James filed for bankruptcy in 2014, and was forced to sell most of his football memorabilia. He can currently be found on TV as a pundit, usually with BT Sport, aged 46.
RB: Glen Johnson
Even at right-back, Glen Johnson was one of the stars of the Portsmouth team at the time, and secured a £17.5 million move to Liverpool in 2009 after he won the Pompey Player of the Year award and a place in the PFA Team of the Season. He spent six years at Anfield, winning the League Cup in 2011, but came in for criticism from a lot of the Reds faithful, in the end being released in 2015. He was picked up by Stoke City, where he currently plies his trade, aged 32 and strangely wearing the number 8 shirt?! Johnson also featured for England at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and Euro 2012, retiring two years ago with 54 caps and one goal.
CB: Sol Campbell
Much like David James, Sol Campbell’s best days with both of the North London clubs were well behind him in 2007, but he would go on to captain Pompey to FA Cup glory in 2008 before departing in 2009. His playing career stalled from then on, playing just one game in League Two for Notts County, before returning to Arsenal in one of the strangest transfers of all time to play a further 14 games for the Gunners. Newcastle signed him in 2010, but he lasted just a year before being released having made only seven league appearances. Unable to find a new club, Campbell retired in 2012. The former England international is now 42, and in February 2015, he announced his intention to run for the Conservative nomination for Mayor of London in the 2016 election, but was not selected as the party’s candidate.
CB: Sylvain Distin
Following Campbell’s departure in 2009, Distin was given the captain’s armband, but he himself would only remain at Fratton Park for just a few more weeks before joining Everton for £5 million. In six seasons at Goodison Park, he made 210 appearances across all competitions and won the Toffees’ Player of the Season award in 2012. Released in 2015, the centre-back moved back to the South Coast to join newly promoted Bournemouth but made just 16 appearances before being let go this summer. He may now be a free agent, but the 38 year old has made the most appearances of any outfield foreign player in the Premier League (469), spanning an impressive 16 consecutive seasons.
LB: Hermann Hreidarsson
The Icelander put Portsmouth 3-2 up in 2009 with a glancing header, his first for the club having signed that summer. Loyal to the team, Hreidarsson was one of the few players to remain at Fratton Park following relegation from the Premier League in 2010 – his fifth relegation in England, an unwanted record he holds with Nathan Blake. He departed Pompey in 2012 to Coventry City, but made just two Championship appearances as the Sky Blues were relegated that season, along with P0rtsmouth. Hreidarsson then moved back to his homeland to become player-manager at IBV, signing David James in 2013. Now 42, he is the manager of Fylkir, who have just been relegated from the Icelandic top flight. Oh dear Hermann.
CM: Papa Bouba Diop
‘The Wardrobe’ gave away a penalty in the game, but had David James to thank for saving the spot-kick. Left Portsmouth following 2010’s relegation, moving to Greece to join AEK Athens. He lasted just one season there but in that short space of the time won the country’s version of the FA Cup before returning to England to sign for West Ham in the Championship. Again, Diop was at Upton Park for just one year, helping the Hammers to play-off glory. His final club before injuries forced him to retire was Birmingham City, where he played just twice. It was hard to find what the former Senegalese international is doing now, aged 38, but he has set up charity to help fight malaria, and has recruited ambassadors such as Saido Berahino, Jack Butland and Demba Ba.
CM: Sean Davis
Netted Portsmouth’s sixth goal of the afternoon in the 81st minute, and would go on to stay at Fratton Park until 2009. Pompey rejected a £3 million bid for him from Bolton in the January transfer window, but Davis would end up moving to the Trotters for free in the summer after his contract expired on the South Coast. Unfortunately though, injuries prevented the midfielder from getting many chances in Lancashire, and a loan spell at Bristol City couldn’t save his career. Eventually, Davis was forced to retire in 2012 due to a knee injury, having played just three league games for Bolton in as many years. Now 37, he is back at his first club Fulham as a columnist and commentator for their home matches.
CM: Sulley Muntari
Scored the goal that broke the Premier League record with Portsmouth’s seventh and final goal of the game from the penalty spot. It was Muntari’s first and only season at Fratton Park, and since then he has found the most success at both the Milan clubs, playing 97 games for Inter and 83 for AC, with a brief loan spell at Sunderland in between. Muntari moved to Ittihad FC in Saudi Arabia in 2015 on a two year contract, but was released this summer prematurely, leaving the 32 as a free agent. He has also featured for Ghana at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, but during the latter, he and Kevin-Prince Boateng were sent home from the Black Stars camp in Brazil and suspended from the squad for disciplinary reasons, only hours before the final Group match against Portugal. Muntari reportedly assaulted Moses Armah, a member of former manager James Kwesi Appiah’s coaching staff.
RW: John Utaka
Another relegation survivor, John Utaka featured in one Championship season for Portsmouth before moving to Montpellier in 2011. In the same team as Olivier Giroud, Utaka helped the club win their first ever Ligue 1 title in his first season, scoring a brace in the 2-1 win over Auxerre that secured the trophy. He moved on to Turkish club Sivasspor in 2013 spending two years there before being released. After going a year without playing, the 34 year old looked set to join former club Ismaily in Egypt this summer, but after just one month the club decided to rescind his contract after claiming that his poor technical and physical condition was the reason. As a result, Utaka has filed a formal complaint to the Egyptian FA and allegedly soon FIFA.
The star of the show on the South Coast, Benjani grabbed a hat-trick that effectively proved the difference between the two sides. His impressive performances in the first half of 07-08 meant that Manchester City snapped him up on deadline day in the January transfer window. However, he failed to make an impact in sky blue and saw his career decline rapidly. The goals dried up at City, and a loan move to Sunderland and then permanent switch to Blackburn couldn’t revive his career before he ended up back at Portsmouth in the Championship in 2012. Yet it wasn’t to be in a season back at Fratton Park either, and after two years in South Africa with Chippa United and then Bidvest Wits, Benjani retired in 2014. I’m not entirely sure what the 38 year old is doing now, but he did feature in a charity game at non-league Lincoln City in May.
LW: Niko Kranjcar
Scorer of one of the more scrappier goals of the day, Kranjcar made his desire to play for a bigger club clear in the summer of 2008 with Monaco, Arsenal and Everton all linked with the winger. Yet he didn’t move until the following summer, linking up with former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp at Tottenham. He spent three years at White Hart Lane before moving to Dynamo Kiev, but lasted just a season in Ukraine before being sent out on loan to QPR – managed by, you’ve guessed it, Harry Redknapp. Kranjcar helped the Hoops gain promotion from the Championship in his first season, but they went straight back down the following year. He was then released by Dynamo Kiev, deciding to move to the USA and join the New York Cosmos in March of this year. Yet just three months later he was back in Britain, signing for Rangers. The 32 year old has made 12 appearances so far this season, scoring twice.
Sub: David Nugent
Replaced Benjani for the final ten minutes. Didn’t have the best time at Portsmouth, being involved in a pre-season trip bust-up in 2009 and was then sent out on loan to Burnley, with whom he was relegated with. He left Fratton Park in 2011 to join Leicester City on a free transfer and proved a hit at the King Power Stadium, scoring double figures in his first three seasons, helping the Foxes to promotion to the Premier League in 2014. He made 29 to flight appearances, but was sold to Middlesbrough upon Claudio Ranieri’s arrival in 2015 meaning he missed out on the club’s incredible title win. He did however win another Championship promotion with Boro. Hey, every cloud…
GK: Marcus Hahnemann
It’s unlikely that Marcus Hahnemann conceded more goals in a single game in his career, as it was certainly an afternoon to forget for the American. He ended an eight year association with Reading in 2009, joining newly promoted Wolves for free and making 39 top flight appearances for the Midlands side in two years. He then spent one campaign as Everton’s third choice keeper but failed to make it off the bench before moving back to first club Seattle Sounders in 2012. Then into his 40s, he once again spent more time off the pitch than on it, and retired in December 2014. Now 44, he is currently working as the head soccer coach for Newport High School in Bellevue, Washington. His Twitter bio also describes him as “fishing guide, ski instructor and tree house builder”. Interesting.
RB: Graeme Murty
A club legend beyond any doubt, Graeme Murty captained Reading’s record breaking team of 2005-06 and racked up over 300 appearances for the club before joining Southampton in 2009. After one injury plagued season in which Murty made just six League One appearances, the Saints released him and two years later the right-back announced his retirement. He took up a coaching role in the Southampton academy, working primarily with the under-12 to under-16 teams. A similar position at Norwich beckoned in 2014, and then this summer Murty, now aged 41, was appointed as Head Development Squad coach at Rangers. Murty was amongst the first group of players to be inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame earlier this year.
CB: Michael Duberry
This was one of Duberry’s 13 Premier League appearances that season, and he would go on to be released at the end of his contract in 2009. Picked up by League One Wycombe, he quickly became club captain thanks to his 13 years of top flight experience. After just a season at Adams Park, he moved north of the border to join St Johnstone. Two years later he joined his final professional club by moving closer to his family with Oxford United and making 50 appearances in two seasons. In 2013 he signed for non-league Hendon but played just four games before being released and thus announcing his retirement. The 40 year old doesn’t seem to be doing an awful lot nowadays, but occasionally pops up as a columnist for various newspapers.
CB: Ivar Ingimarsson
One of my favourite ever Reading players. Was named Royals captain by Brendan Rodgers in 2009, and finished his time at the Madejski Stadium with nearly 300 appearances when he was released in 2011 after an eight year association with the club. He then moved to Ipswich Town, but the Tractor Boys proved to be his final club as they released him midway through the 2011/12 season. Since retiring, Ingimarsson, now 39, has moved into the tourism industry in his homeland of Iceland, developing land in the Egilsstadir area of the country and setting up hotels. It is £85 a night to stay in one of the guest houses he owns with his wife, a price I’d certainly pay to meet the man himself again.
LB: Nicky Shorey
Shorey may have missed a penalty, but he was also the scorer of the 11th and final goal of a thrilling game. Having made two England appearances, he left Reading at the end of 07/08 season to join Aston Villa. After a season in the Midlands, he actually came incredibly close to joining Portsmouth on loan before deciding against it at the last minute. However he has become quite a journeyman since leaving Villa Park, featuring for nine clubs in seven years: Nottingham Forest (loan), Fulham (loan), West Brom, a return to Reading, Bristol City, Portsmouth, Pune City in India, Colchester United and now currently Hungerford Town in the National League South. He has scored just once since this game, also for Reading in 2012.
RM: Liam Rosenior
Despite playing on the right wing during this game, Liam Rosenior is more naturally a right-back. In 2009, he went out on loan to Ipswich Town for a season before being released by the Royals at the end of the campaign, causing controversy by stating “I can’t say I had two great years there because I didn’t”. Hull City picked him up in October 2010 initially on a short term contract, but he would go on to spend five years at the KC Stadium, winning promotion from the Championship in 2013 and featuring the FA Cup final a year later. Last summer he signed for Brighton following his release by Hull. The 32 year old has four appearances so far this season for the Seagulls.
CM: Brynjar Gunnarsson
One of the few players to be involved in both of Reading’s promotion winning seasons in 2006 and 2012, despite only making five appearances in the latter. Nonetheless, he left Berkshire as a club legend as he moved back to Iceland to play for Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur (helpfully better known as KR). In one season at the club, Gunnarsson won the league title before deciding it was the right time to retire as a player. He consequently became the assistant manager of fellow Icelandic side Starjnan in 2014, where he remains aged 40. Starjnan won the league in his first season and have subsequently played against the likes of Motherwell, Inter Milan and Celtic in European competition.
CM: James Harper
Joined Sheffield United originally on loan in the summer of 2009 before making his move permanent in January. Yet Harper was on the move once again the following summer, joining Hull City and scoring his first goal for the Tigers against Reading. January 2012 saw another loan move, this time to Wycombe, but he made just five appearances for the Chairboys and that summer was released by Hull. His final Football League club were Doncaster Rovers, where he won the League 1 title in 2013 – before unfortunately being released once again in January. In the two years since, Harper, now 35, has become a non-league journeyman, featuring for Barnet and Basingstoke before joining seventh tier side Hayes & Yeading in March.
LM: Stephen Hunt
Despite signing a new three and a half year contract at Reading in February 2009, Stephen Hunt left Berkshire that summer to move back to the Premier League with Hull. He scored on his debut and won the club’s player of the season, but the Humberside outfit were relegated in May 2010 and a move to Wolves beckoned for the winger. He made 44 appearances in two top flight campaigns before he suffered relegation for a third time. Hunt moved to Ipswich in 2013 and played two further seasons as his playing time gradually became shorter. Following his release in 2015, the 35 year old spent a few months as a free agent before signing a short term contract with Coventry City in January. Hunt announced his retirenement at the end of last season. For the Republic of Ireland, he earned 39 caps and was selected in the Euro 2012 squad.
ST: Kevin Doyle
There’s a pattern emerging here. Kevin Doyle was another player who departed Reading in 2009, joining Wolves for £6.5 million – one of the highest sums of money the Royals have ever received for a player. In six years at Molineux, the striker netted a perhaps somewhat underwhelming 33 goals in 179 games, whilst he also spent time on loan at QPR and Crystal Palace, a rare circumstance in that these two teams were in higher divisions than Wolves. In 2013/14, Doyle played enough games for both Wolves and QPR to win not only a League One winners medal but a Championship play-off medal too. The 33 year old moved to the MLS to play for Colorado Rapids in 2015, and I was lucky enough to interview Doyle this summer, which you can read here.
ST: Dave Kitson
Another high profile sale, Dave Kitson joined Stoke City in 2008 for a Potters record fee of £5.5 million. However it never quite worked out at the Britannia Stadium, as he failed to score in 18 games in his first season. A loan move back to Reading and then Middlesbrough followed, before Portsmouth snapped him up permanently in 2010. After the South Coast side were relegated from the Championship in 2012, Kitson joined Sheffield United for a season and then Oxford United before announcing his retirement in 2014. Since then, the 36 year old was a player-assistant manager at Arlesey Town from December 2014 until February 2015, whilst he has finally been revealed as the Secret Footballer.
Sub: Emerse Fae
Incredibly, Emerse Fae remains Reading’s club record signing at £2.5 million, the fee the Royals paid Nantes in 2007. However he proved to be one of the greatest flops in the club’s history, and this game was one of his only eight appearances whilst in the blue and white hoops. Attitude problems left him frozen out of the club, and Fae moved on loan to Nice in the summer of 2008 before making the switch permanent in January. He ended his career on the French South Coast, being forced to retire aged just 28 in 2012 due to ongoing problems with phlebitis. Now 32, the former midfielder stayed at Nice to earn his coaching badges and is currently the manager of the club’s Under 17 side.
Sub: Shane Long
Arguably the most successful player to come out of Reading’s academy along with Gylfi Sigurdsson. Long was only 20 when he came off the bench to score at Fratton Park, and in the nine years since he has had a distinguished career in the Premier League. He left Reading in 2011 due to a desire to play top flight football, and understandably so, having scored 21 goals in 10/11 to earn the club’s player of the season. In the past five years, Long has netted nearly 40 Premier League goals for West Brom, Hull City and current club Southampton, and also has 67 caps for Ireland (16 goals), featuring at the European Championships in 2012 and 2016.