“Dave Bentley, Bentley,
To Ewood from Highbury,
Past Van Der Sar he put three,
Dave Bentley, Bentley…”
That is how a 22 year old Englishman set the Premier League on fire for Blackburn Rovers a decade back.
Blackburn was an admirable force in those days with a number of quality footballers. David Bentley was certainly the most promising one who became one of the most discussed name in English football after scoring a hat-trick against mighty Manchester United on 1st February, 2006, just one day after making his move permanent for the Blue and Whites from Arsenal.
His performances led Rovers finish sixth in the 2005-06 Premier League campaign and qualify for the 2006-07 UEFA Cup competition. He was at his peak in the next two Premier League campaigns for a handful of spectacular goals and assists. His excellence earned him a call up in the England B squad under Steve McClaren who termed him as “new David Beckham”.
Despite his eminence, Blackburn finished seventh in the 2007-08 Premier League campaign and failed to qualify for Europe. Bentley reiterated his desire to join a top club and signed for Tottenham Hotspur for an initial £15 million fee in the following campaign. But the off form and injuries prevented him being a regular for Spurs and was soon tagged as a big money flop. He was then loaned to a number of clubs (Birmingham City, West Ham United, FC Rostov and his former club Blackburn Rovers in 2012-13 campaign who were playing in the Championship after relegation) but failed to impress.
His attitude and arrogance hampered his senior international career too. He was jeered by some of the fans when he came on as a substitute for Shaun Wright-Phillips against Israel in the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers due to his previous refusal to play for the under-21 team citing fatigue.
On 7th June, 2013 Bentley was released by Tottenham Hotspur after those unsuccessful loan spells. He then looked for other options elsewhere but could not find a club. After spending more than one year as a free agent, he announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 29 only.
The winger started crying during an interview on Sky Sports while discussing about his retirement where he admitted about his “falling out of love with the game”.
“I have no regrets. I loved every minute of playing but the game has changed. When I first started it was the enjoyment, going in to work every day was brilliant.
Now it’s a little bit robotic, the social media side of it, the money that has come into the game. I hate to say it, but it’s made it boring and predictable – calculated – and to go and sign another three or four years into that wasn’t really an option for Me”.
It was an immensely tragic ending of a football career, who was once labeled as one of the brightest prospect of English football. Let us take a look at one of his amazing games in this video: