Steven Caulker made the journey from London to the south coast as he completed his season-long loan move to Southampton last week.
The defender is yet to find a settled home in football with the Saints’ being his fourth Premier League club in as many years.
The Englishman was originally an athlete but chose to pursue a future in football. Playing for his local side Hounslow Borough as a central midfielder his coach advised him to drop deeper into a centre back. In his first game there, aged 15, he was offered trials at several clubs including Tottenham.
He decided to join the Spurs youth team and despite being an Under-16 he featured mainly in the Under-18s side. He spent two more years in the academy sides before signing his first professional contract with the London club in July 2009.
Caulker’s first loan move came in the summer of 2009 when he was sent to Yeovil Town in League One. He was a solid acquisition for The Glovers, starting 44 of the 45 league games he was available for. The one game he missed was due to being part of the England U-19s. In the customary end of season Yeovil award ceremony the loanee collected four of the five available gongs and despite only spending one season at Huish Park he made their Team of the Decade in 2013.
The following campaign the Londoner joined Bristol City. The Robins were threatened with relegation but with Caulker at the heart of their defence he helped the south west side climb out of the relegation zone. However, on the March 28th 2011 his campaign finished due to a knee cartilage injury that saw him miss the remainder of the 2010-2011 season. City manager Keith Millen described Caulker as “one of City’s best players.”
After impressing in both League One and the Championship the defender was loaned to newly promoted Premier League side Swansea City. Impressing in his opening eight games with the Swans he collided with a goalpost and suffered another knee cartilage injury that ruled him out for eight weeks. Three months later he returned to the side and became a mainstay and the backbone of the defence. He made 26 starts across the season and helped the Welsh side finish 11th in the Premier League.
After impressing during his loan spells Caulker signed a four-year contact with Tottenham in the summer of 2012. He was to remain with Spurs for the season, making his European debut in a Europa League group stage match against Lazio. The match finished 0-0, the youngster impressed and the following weekend he made his Premier League debut against Queens Park Rangers. After being in and out the side for the season he finished the campaign with 28 appearances and two goals.
Caulker started the next season well enough to be handed his England debut in a friendly against Sweden, where he also scored his first international goal in the same game. His international caps, for now, finished there, and because his first cap came in a friendly he’s technically still available to play for Scotland, the birthplace of his Grandmother.
Despite his impressive season with Tottenham he was sold to Cardiff City for £8 million. He was an ever-present in Cardiff’s first Premier League campaign, playing every minute of the season and scoring five goals, including the winner against fierce rivals and old club Swansea. Despite that he was unable to keep them in the top flight as the Bluebirds were relegated back to The Championship
Caulker moved back to the Premier League this time to Queens Park Rangers for an undisclosed fee that summer, once again though he struggled to keep his club in the division and they were relegated after finishing rock-bottom.
After a couple of questionable moves, Caulker, still only 23, will be hoping that with a better team around him now will be the time to really make himself a household name in the Premier League under the clever guidance of Ronald Koeman.