Gardner playing for Sunderland in 2012
|Full name||Craig Gardner|
|Date of birth||25 November 1986|
|Place of birth||Solihull, England|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Playing position||Central midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 21:51, 6 May 2013 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
Craig Gardner (born 25 November 1986) is an English footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Premier League club Sunderland. A versatile midfielder, Gardner can play in many different positions, although central midfield is his preferred position. Gardner began his career at Aston Villa, before switching to city rivals Birmingham City in 2010.
Playing career 
Aston Villa 
Born in Solihull, West Midlands, Gardner rejected the chance to join Birmingham City in 2003 in order to play for Aston Villa and turned professional on 31 January 2005. Before Gardner made his Premier League debut on 26 December 2005 he played for the youth team Arden Forest. This was before joining Aston Villa's youth system which then later took him to his debut, when he came on as a substitute for Steven Davis against Everton at Villa Park. He scored his first professional goal for Villa in the 3–1 away win on 14 April against Middlesbrough. He also netted a contender for goal of the month on the last day of the season away to Bolton Wanderers. After a series of appearances Villa Manager Martin O'Neill entered contract talks with Gardner.
In August 2007, Gardner signed a new four-year deal, which ran until June 2011. On 1 October 2007 he scored two goals in two games with two free-kicks. First he scored away to Tottenham Hotspur in a 4–4 draw and then the winner against West Ham 5 days later with a deflected free-kick.
On 1 December 2007, Gardner scored the opener in a home match against Arsenal. Villa went on to lose the match 2–1. Gardner has often played in the right-back slot, and impressed both his manager, Martin O'Neill, and captain, Gareth Barry, who said that Gardner could be a key player for years to come.
Gardner made just one appearance for Villa in the 2009–10 due to a groin injury. On 4 January 2010 it was announced that Birmingham City were preparing a £3.5 million bid. However it was revealed that Aston Villa had turned down the bid for the player. However, the club later offered a second deal including add-ons that was accepted by Aston Villa. He made exactly 80 appearances for Villa in all competitions.
Birmingham City 
Gardner signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Birmingham City on 26 January 2010 for a fee reported as £3m plus £500,000 in add-ons. He made his debut on 7 February as a 68th-minute substitute, and set up the first of Kevin Phillips' goals as Birmingham came back to beat Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers 2–1. He scored his first goal for the club against Everton on 13 March. Towards the end of the season Gardner was preferred to Sebastian Larsson on the right of midfield. Restored to his favoured central position, he scored twice in the first home game of the 2010–11 season as Birmingham came from behind to beat Blackburn Rovers 2–1, and scored again in the next game away at Bolton Wanderers. Gardner's winning goal in extra time against West Ham United took Birmingham City through to the 2011 Football League Cup Final. He was the club's top goalscorer in the 2010–11 season with eight League goals, ten in all competitions, as Birmingham were relegated to the Championship.
Gardner signed a three-year deal with Sunderland for an undisclosed fee, believed by BBC Sport to be about £6 million, on 30 June 2011. Gardner made his debut as a substitute in the home defeat to Newcastle United on 20 August, and scored his first competitive goal on 18 September 2011 with a deflected shot that looped over Stoke Citys goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as Sunderland beat Stoke City 4–0 at home to secure their first win of the season. Gardner fell out of favour at Sunderland, and was linked with a departure in the January transfer window. However, he was re-united with former boss O'Neill when he replaced Steve Bruce as Sunderland manager in December 2011, and this promted a change in fortune for Gardner and the Black Cats. Gardner was deployed at right back against Manchester City on New Year's Day 2012 due to an injury crisis, and helped Sunderland to a shock 1–0 win against the league leaders. Two days later Gardner, again playing at right back, scored his second goal for Sunderland, direct from a free kick 30 yards away from goal in their 4–1 away win at Wigan. Gardner was rumoured to be homesick at Sunderland in the press, and was linked with a move back to The Midlands. Sunderland rejected a loan bid for Gardner from former club Birmingham City on 19 January. Gardner scored a stunning volley from outside the box in Sunderland's 2–0 win over Swansea City on 21 January.
Gardner remained at Sunderland for the 2012-13 season, dismissing rumours that he was unsettled on Wearside. He was deployed as a right-back by O'Neill for much of the season. His first goal of the season came from a direct free kick against MK Dons in a 2-0 Capital One Cup victory on September 25th. Gardner scored again from a free kick in a 2-4 home defeat against West Bromwich Albion, and scored the Black Cat's conselation goal in a 2-1 loss at Norwich in December. On 5 January, Gardner scored a late equilaizer in their FA Cup 3rd Round tie away at Bolton Wanderers with a powerful strike from the edge of the box, earning Sunderland a replay. He scored a penalty as Sunderland lost 2-1 at Reading in January. In March, Garnder conceded a penalty by bringing down Ashkan Dejagah in the box, but made amends by scoring another penalty to help Sunderland draw 2-2. Garnder scored yet another penalty as Sunderland drew at home to Norwich later that month, bringing his tally for the season to eight. Despite Garnder's goals, Sunderland were on a run of eight games without a win, and following a home defeat to Manchester United, O'Neill was sacked and replaced with Paolo Di Canio. Gardner started Di Canio's first game in charge, a 2-1 loss at Chelsea, and picked up his tenth yellow card of the season. As a result, Gardner missed the Tyne-Wear derby at Newcastle through suspension. However, Di Canio allowed Garnder to travel to the game with Sunderland supporters and watch the game with the fans in the away end. Gardner was seen singing with Sunderland fans on the Metro journey to Tyneside, and celebrating as Sunderland thrashed their rivals 3-0.
Personal life 
Gardner said he was a lifelong Birmingham City supporter. He had previously claimed (while playing for Aston Villa) to have been a Villa fan since childhood. His younger brother Gary Gardner also played for England at youth level and turned professional with Aston Villa. In June 2012, he donated £500 to the family of a disabled toddler after a chance meeting in a department store; this was only revealed after the Stoke-on-Trent family told a local newspaper.
Career statistics 
- As of match played 6 May 2013.
|Season||Club||Division||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total||Discipline|
|2005–06||Aston Villa||Premier League||8||0||1||0||0||0||–||–||9||0||3||0|
|Aston Villa total||59||5||6||0||3||0||12||1||80||6||14||0|
|2009–10||Birmingham City||Premier League||13||1||2||0||0||0||–||–||15||1||4||0|
|Birmingham City total||42||9||4||0||6||2||–||–||52||11||11||2|
- Aston Villa
- FA Youth Cup: runner-up 2003–04
- Birmingham City
- UEFA European Under-21 Championship: runner-up 2009
- Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2007). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2007–08. Edinburgh: Mainstream. p. 155. ISBN 978-1-84596-246-3.
- "Player Profiles: Craig Gardner". Sunderland A.F.C. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
- "Football: I ran on to Villa Park at age of seven and I never looked back; BATTLER GARDNER HAS HIS SIGHTS SET ON A LIFETIME STAY.". Sunday Mercury. 15 April 2007. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- Hookham, Richard (14 April 2007). "Middlesbrough 1–3 Aston Villa". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- Fletcher, Paul (13 May 2007). "Bolton 2–2 Aston Villa". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
- Gardner ready to sign Villa deal
- Bevan, Chris (1 October 2007). "Tottenham 4–4 Aston Villa". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- Barbuti, Jon (6 October 2007). "Aston Villa 1–0 West Ham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- Sinnott, John (1 December 2007). "Aston Villa 1–2 Arsenal". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- Walker, Andy (26 January 2010). "Craig Gardner joins Birmingham City from Aston Villa for £3.5m". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- Tattum, Colin (8 February 2010). "Birmingham City 2, Wolves 1: Colin Tattum's big match verdict". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- Roopanarine, Les (13 March 2010). "Birmingham 2–2 Everton". BBC Sport. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
- Tattum, Colin (26 July 2010). "Sebastian Larsson reveals why he's the wing man for Blues". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- Tattum, Colin (23 August 2010). "Birmingham City 2, Blackburn Rovers 1". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- Whyatt, Chris (29 August 2010). "Bolton 2–2 Birmingham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- McNulty, Phil (26 January 2011). "Birmingham 3–1 West Ham (agg 4–3)". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
- "Birmingham: Player Appearances". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 June 2011. Select season required via dropdown menu.
- "Sunderland sign Craig Gardner from Birmingham". BBC Sport. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
- Magowan, Alistair (21 August 2011). "Sunderland 0–1 Newcastle". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
- Sinnott, John (18 September 2011). "Sunderland 4–0 Stoke". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
- Hodgson, Myles. "Sunderland 2 Swansea 0: Black Cats on the move but homesick Gardner staying put". Daily Mail (London).
- "Craig Gardner insists Blues won't regret signing him". Birmingham Mail. 27 January 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- "Mat Kendrick: So was Craig Gardner a boyhood Villan or a Bluenose?". Birmingham Post. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- Howell, Bill (25 April 2009). "Gary Gardner impresses for Villa reserves and academy". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- Smith, Lisa (20 October 2009). "Brother of Aston Villa's Craig Gardner signs first contract with club". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- "Sunderland footballer Craig Gardner's £500 gift for brave Sneyd Green toddler". The Sentinel. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- "Craig Gardner". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
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