MATTHEW UPSON proved to be a valuable acquisition to Stoke City’s squad for such a demanding campaign on both the domestic and European fronts.
The England international signed a two-year contract with the Potters after being allowed to leave West Ham United on a free transfer in the summer of 2011.
Although the Ryan Shawcross-Robert Huth pairing proved once again to be City’s first choice central defensive pairing for much of the season, Upson showed his international pedigree whenever he was given the chance to operate in his natural position.
Capped 21 times by England and a member of Fabio Capello’s side that played in the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa, he became a free agent after his contract expired at West Ham following their relegation from the Premier League in 2011.
After emerging through the ranks at Luton Town, the 33-year-old central defender made his initial impact with Arsenal, but also gained valuable experience in the early stages of his career in loan spells with Nottingham Forest and Reading.
He had a four year spell with Birmingham City after a £3 million move to St Andrews and then joined the Hammers in a £4 million deal in January 2007.
As a consistent performer in a West Ham shirt for four years, he had made over 350 senior appearances by the time he left Upton Park.
While he had limited opportunities in a Stoke shirt in the 2011-12 season, he did get on the scoresheet in the Europa League tie against FC Thun and then again to set the Potters on the road to victory over Swansea City later in the season.