Five things you might not know about new Harrogate Town recruit Jon Stead

Jon Stead sparked the most unlikely of comebacks when he netted in Bradford Citys 4-2 FA Cup victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Picture: Getty Images
Jon Stead sparked the most unlikely of comebacks when he netted in Bradford Citys 4-2 FA Cup victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Picture: Getty Images

Here are five things that you might not already know about ex-Premier League striker Jon Stead, Harrogate Town's fifth summer signing.

1. Ian Wright was his boyhood idol and inspired him to start playing football.

Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2017, Stead revealed that Ian Wright was his sporting hero as a child and inspired him to take up the beautiful game.

“He was the player who got me interested in football,” said Stead of the ex-Arsenal and England forward.

“I probably started quite late compared to a few of the other kids knocking around. I didn’t start Sunday league football until the under-10s or under-11s, so I was quite late in picking it up.

“He [Wright] was someone who I saw scoring goals and the way he played the game, his enthusiasm, always with a smile on his face, he sparked an interest in me which I pursued.

“It was how enjoyable he made it look.”

2. He was capped 11 times by England under-21s.

In early 2004, Stead was considered one of the brightest striking prospects in English football.

Having earned himself a £1.25 million move to Blackburn Rovers and scored the winning goal on his debut against Middlesbrough, Stead received an international call-up.

His first appearance for England’s under-21s saw him emerge from the substitutes’ bench to set up Darren Bent for the decisive goal in a 3-2 victory over a Holland side that featured Robin Van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

He went on to make a further 10 appearances for the under-21s, scoring once.

3. He has commanded transfer fees totalling in excess of £4.5 million.

More than £4.5 million has been spent acquiring Stead’s services over the years.

He moved from Huddersfield to Blackburn for £1.25m in 2004, then on to Sunderland for £1.8m 17 months later.

It cost Sheffield United an initial outlay of £750,000 rising to £1.2m to take him to Bramall Lane in January 2007 before Ipswich Town bought him for a fee reported to be in the region of £600,000.

Bristol City then spent an undisclosed sum on Stead in the summer of 2010.

4. He was part of the Bradford City side that stunned then-Premier League leaders Chelsea in the FA Cup back in 2015.

With 38 minutes on the clock, League One Bradford found themselves 2-0 down in an FA Cup fourth round tie at Stamford Bridge in January 2015.

It looked very much like the Bantams were heading for a hiding at the hands of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, a side who sat top of the Premier League at the time, 49 places higher than City, and still harbouring hopes of completing an unprecedented quadruple.

Stead, however, had other ideas. He netted a 41st-minute goal to get his team back in the game and sparked the most unlikely of comebacks, Bradford running out 4-2 victors against all the odds.

“That was probably the most elated and surprised I’ve been at the end of a game, the most emotional I’ve ever been on a football pitch because of what we’d achieved,” Stead reflected.

“Jose Mourinho was the Chelsea manager and he was really good afterwards. He came into our changing room after the game and shook every player’s hand and the staff’s.

“He congratulated us and kept walking round saying: ‘Big balls, big balls.’ He was brilliant.

“It was a touch of class from him because he must have felt embarrassed and felt there was no way Chelsea should have lost that game.”

5. He names Jamie Carragher as the hardest opponent he has faced during his long professional career.

Having made 86 appearances in the Premier League for three different clubs, Stead came up against a whole host of top-class defenders and names ex-Liverpool and England stopper

Jamie Carragher as the player who he struggled against the most.

“Jamie Carragher was the main one who stood out, not so much intimidating as the way that he played the game. He was so vocal. And it was his positional sense,” Stead told the Daily Mail in 2017.

“He’s not the biggest defender but the way he read the game, he was always one step ahead of me.

“He was the one I was most wary of because of how he commanded games and his teammates.

“He was a real leader and really difficult to play against.

“It was in my Blackburn days so it was a real eye opener coming from the old Division Three with Huddersfield.

“There were big lumps of centre-halves in that division but they weren’t athletic and they couldn’t get around the pitch, so to have somebody who could match my young speed and enthusiasm and to do so with an aggressive stance and the way he read the game was very difficult.”