He was once asked by a Soccer AM interviewer “what’s your favourite band?” The bundle of hair looked up from his fishing rod and dryly replied: “erm… elastic band.”
You just don’t know what to expect from Jimmy Bullard. The man who defines the term ‘marmite player’ has his fans and his critics. Some love him for the carefree, smiling nature of his game while others loath his determined, hounding-like approach to opponents.
Yet what most people can agree on is that the Premier League 2012-13 has lost a real personality with Bullard’s decision to retire from the game. After two serious knee ligament injuries and further major setbacks to his recovery, the 33-year-old has packed it all in after consulting a specialist.
The MK Dons midfielder has been sorely missed since his relegation with Hull back in 2010, while an injury-hit stint at Fulham confirmed what many football fans had been fearing: Bullard was on the decline as quickly as he had risen.
Once upon a time, the Londoner was touted as a future England star after helping catapult Wigan Athletic into the top flight in 2005. His status as an innocent clown figure in the Premier League grew thanks to Sky Sports’ Soccer AM show, and his performances in a Wigan shirt matched his entertainment value without it.
Wigan fans will remember Bullard as the dogged midfielder his running style fated him to be; yet he came to Premier League fruition after netting a penalty against Manchester City at the KC Stadium, mocking manager Phil Brown’s on-pitch team talk delivered in the same fixture a year ago.
With ridiculous hair and a big attitude, Bullard was loved by (the majority of) his own fans and hated by opponents’. It is with sadness such a character in the game has slipped down the league and retired in obscurity, but if Mr Savage is anything to go by, Bullard will return with a radio mic under his nose in the very near future.
In the meantime, the bets for Saturday’s 3pm kick-offs are anticipating a difficult match for Bullard’s former club, Wigan, against high-flyers, Everton.