When you ask what went wrong with Jermaine Pennant, the simple answer is he had a bad attitude.
His failure as a top level professional football can be summed up by two incidents with cars. The first saw him, while drunk, crash Ashley Cole’s car and saw him held in a cell overnight. With Freddie Ljnugberg injured, Pennant would have played the following day but couldn’t as he had spent the night behind bars. It ultimately cost him a new contract at Arsenal, where Arsène Wenger – despite rarely playing the then 22-year-old as he had Messrs Ljungberg and Pirès – believed his talent would shine through eventually.
The second car incident came when he left Real Zaragoza to sign for Stoke City. Clearly in a rush to get to England, the winger left his Porsche at a train station in Zaragoza. When the Spanish club contacted him FIVE MONTHS LATER he said he forgot that he had even owned a Porsche. Incredible.
Back in 1999, when the midfielder was just 15 years old, Arsenal spent a huge £2m to prise Pennant from Notts County. He went on to make 12 Premier League appearances for the Gunners, being sent on four loan spells before finally leaving for Birmingham permanently at the age of 21. While there, he would play with an electronic tag around his ankle thanks to another drink driving incident.
Only Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fàbregas have made their Arsenal debuts at a younger age than Pennant, who would regularly show up for training late at London Colney. One of his five Premier League starts for Arsenal saw him score a hat-trick. And that’s all he’ll positively be remembered for in north London.
After various loan spells he managed to spend three years at Liverpool, where he scored against Chelsea on his debut before scoring just twice more in 54 appearances. After more loan spells and a mildly successful time at Stoke he ended up at Pune City of the Indian Super League and Wigan Athletic last season.
Jermaine Pennant, 32 years old, is now set to sign for Tampine Rovers, who play in Singapore. He is due there for a trial this week.
Oh, what could have been.