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Matthew Connolly: Arsenal academy man who won the Championship 3 times.

Matthew Thomas Martin Connolly was born on 24 September 1987 in Barnet, and joined Arsenal Academy, graduating through the academy teams, becoming captain of the senior academy team, and then moving into the League Cup team for whom he played on 24 October 2006, in the match against West Brom.

Having made his breakthrough on 23 November 2006 he went out on his first loan period, to Bournemouth, playing five league games and two FA Cup matches, and scoring against Nottingham Forest on 5 December 2006.

He returned to Arsenal and played in the League Cup quarter final against Liverpool on 9 January 2007 in the amazing Liverpool 3 Arsenal 6 match.

On 9 July 2007 a season long loan spell to Colchester was announced, but this was curtailed on 2 January 2008 after he had played 16 games and scored two goals and his permanent transfer to Queens Park Rangers was announced.  He was called up for the England under 21s shortly after.

Despite having played 36 games in the Championship winning team with QPR he then went to Reading on a loan but only played six times as Reading won the Championship.  Thus he played for two championship winning teams.

In 2011 he announced that he was the owner of C16 – the only tattoo parlour in Hatfield.  Later, in an interview he said, “When I set it up I knew football came first. I have a fantastic tattooist and people in the shop run it for me.   When I finish training I usually head to the shop to see how things are going or I may just socialise.”

But the football was not over.  In August 2012 he moved to Cardiff for £500,000, played through the season for them and won the championship for the third successive year!

It was an odd move for as QPR confirmed the departure of 24-year-old Connolly to Cardiff they were pursuing 34-year-old Ricardo Carvalho on loan.  Well, it seemed odd to me.

Seasons Team Lge Games Lge Goals
2006–2008 Arsenal 0 (0)
2006–2007 Bournemouth (loan) 5 (1)
2007–2008 Colchester United (loan) 16 (2)
2008–2012 Queens Park Rangers 116 (2)
2012 Reading (loan) 6 (0)
2012– Cardiff City

What’s more he started 2012 as a regular in a Premier League side but ended the season with Cardiff going down to the Championship, while QPR moved the other way.

When Matthew Connolly left QPR he was the second longest serving player left at the club and had come in as part of a rebuilding process at the club, with many other youngsters.  He seemed by then to possess everything that a thinking central defender has – all the awareness of the world around him, the ball control, ability to see the right pass.

Quite why they didn’t want to keep him is hard to see, but that is how football goes.  At the time of writing (27 December 2014) he had played 14 games for Cardiff this season, and seems a permanent fixture in the side.

 The History of Arsenal index

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