30 - Lee Martin Profile
Martin began his career as a trainee with Wimbledon, where he caught the eye of many Premier League teams. Although pursued by a number of other top clubs, including Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, he signed for Manchester United on 17 December 2003, following a week-long trial in October 2003, during which time he made one appearance for the Manchester United Under-19s team. The compensation package United paid Wimbledon is estimated to be approximately £1 million, with £200k being paid up front, and the rest in instalments based on both his and Manchester United's performance.
Over the remainder of the 2003–04 season, Martin made seven more appearances for United's various youth teams, and was even named as an unused substitute for the Reserves in January 2004. The following season, Martin began as a regular in the Under-18s, but he was soon promoted to the Reserve team, where he began to flourish, scoring goals as well as setting them up, including a hat-trick in one game against Bolton Wanderers Reserves. The 2005–06 season was even more auspicious for Martin; after being named on the bench for two UEFA Champions League group games, he finally made his first team debut in the League Cup against Barnet on 26 October 2005. He was substituted after 75 minutes, allowing Darron Gibson to make his own first team debut, but he was a constant threat to the Barnet goal.
In January 2006, Martin joined United's feeder club, Belgian Second Division side Royal Antwerp in a loan deal until May 2006, to gain regular first team experience. During that short spell, he earned the Royal Antwerp Fans' Player of the Year award, and earned the fan-chosen Man of the Match award in five consecutive games. In the run-up to the 2006–07 season, Martin played in six of United's seven friendlies following their summer tour of South Africa, particularly impressing in the match against Celtic. This attracted the attention of Celtic's Glasgow rivals, Rangers, who sought to take him on loan for the first half of the season. Seen as not quite ready for the Premier League, Martin joined the Scottish giants with a view to an extension of the loan to the end of the season.
His skills instantly impressed the Rangers support, but after a succession of injuries he failed to establish himself and returned to Manchester United in December 2006, having made just 10 appearances. On 25 January 2007, he was farmed out on loan again, this time to Stoke City. He scored his first senior goal in Stoke's 2–1 win against Southampton on 10 March 2007; it was his only goal in his 14 appearances for the club.
Martin returned to United for the 2007–08 season, and toured the Far East with the club in July 2007. He played in two of the four matches, and scored against Chinese side Guangzhou Pharmaceutical on 27 July 2007, before being replaced by Patrice Evra. He was again named as an unused substitute for the Community Shield against Chelsea on 5 August 2007. Had he played in the game, it would have been his third game in as many days, having played a total of 149 minutes over the previous two games.
On 26 September 2007, Martin started the League Cup Third Round match against Coventry City, but, with United 1–0 down at half-time, he was substituted, Fraizer Campbell his replacement. However, United conceded again and were knocked out of the cup. On 5 October 2007, he joined Championship side Plymouth Argyle on a three-month loan deal, with Plymouth beating three other Championship clubs to his signature. He scored his first Argyle goal in the 1–0 victory over Coventry City on 20 October 2007, something Sir Alex Ferguson would have wished he'd done in the League Cup the previous month.
Martin discussed an extension to his loan with Sir Alex Ferguson on 2 January, but it was decided that Martin would return to Manchester United at the end of the spell on 5 January. However, on 10 January 2008, Sheffield United announced that they had managed to capture Martin on loan until the end of the season. Martin made his debut for the Blades in a 2-0 away defeat to local rivals Sheffield Wednesday but his loan spell was marred by a recurring knee injury and he returned to Old Trafford having only played nine games in total for the Blades.
In Manchester United's 2008 pre-season tour of South Arica, Martin scored United's winner against Orlando Pirates in their 1–0 win in the Vodacom Challenge.
On 13 August 2008, Martin joined Nottingham Forest on a one-month loan. That evening, he made his first appearance for Forest in their League Cup clash against Morecambe. Forest won the match 4–0, but Martin was booked in the first half. Martin scored his first competitive goal for Forest on 23 August 2008, scoring the opening goal in a 3–2 win over Watford at the City Ground. On 29 August 2008, Nottingham Forest announced an extension of the loan deal until 31 December 2008.
Related Lee Martin News
Ipswich manager Roy Keane has raided former club Manchester United to sign winger Lee Martin for an undisclosed fee.
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