History

Iconic people, records and moments from the history of Tranmere Rovers

1990s Icons - Part One

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Posted: 03/02/17
@matthewronaldev

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It was a time of great excitement and unprecedented success at Prenton Park, with regular trips to Wembley throughout the early part of the decade, three consecutive second-tier play-off appearances between 1993 and 1995 and a League Cup semi-final in 1994. This success evolved into an era of spending power never seen before nor since, coupled with a generation of young talent that threatened to propel the club into English football's top tier. The latter part of the decade saw a battle to survive in the second tier coincide with remarkable cup runs that showed the club was still dangerous on its day, a point proven when the club qualified for the 2000 League Cup final. Iconic moments are created by iconic players, yet there were so many to choose from that we have had to split the series into at least two parts. Take a look at the initial list, see what you think and contact us with feedback, perhaps thoughts about who should make the next part. With that established, here are our first batch of 1990s icons:

Eric Nixon

Debut vs. CARLISLE UNITED (25/03/88)

Starting as a semi-professional with Curzon Ashton in the West Cheshire League, Nixon arranged a trial for himself with Manchester City in December 1983. Soon after, he was invited to represent the club as a non-contract player and was subsequently offered his first professional contract at Maine Road on the back of impressive displays for the club's reserves and an eye-catching performance in a first team friendly with Stockport County. He made his professional debut against West Ham United in September 1985 and would represent the blue half of Manchester 84 times before leaving the first team scene with a series of loan moves, the last of which was to Tranmere in March 1988.

Eric's Tranmere debut came on the 25th March 1988 against Carlisle United and he made a further 7 league appearances at the end of the 1987/88 season before signing for the club on a permanent basis that summer. His £60,000 move from Maine Road to Prenton Park would prove to be instant value with the towering 6-foot-4-inch goalkeeper keeping 25 clean sheets during the 1988/89 season, a club record for clean sheets that still stands in 2017.

A key member of John King's “Trip to the Moon”, Nixon enjoyed enormous success on the field as Tranmere rose from the bottom of the fourth tier to the second-tier play-offs. He was also a part of the squad that won the Football League Trophy in the 1989/90 season, beating Bristol Rovers 2-1 in the final, and reached the final the following year, finishing runners-up after a 3-2 reverse against Birmingham City.

He left Tranmere after 9 years and 432 appearances, joining Stockport County in 1997 for £100,000 before going on to Wigan Athletic in 1998. He returned to Prenton Park for a third time in 1999, this time as a player-coach and after a short loan to Kidderminster Harriers in 2001 (where he kept a clean sheet in all 3 of his appearances), Nixon would receive his testimonial game against Manchester City in the summer of 2002. On 21st September 2002, Eric became the oldest player in Tranmere history when he played against Crewe Alexandra at the age of 39 years and 352 days old, a record that would stand for well over a decade before being broken by Ian Goodison.

After hanging up his boots, Nixon would serve the club as a goalkeeping coach until he left the club in 2006. When the conversation turns to the club's best goalkeepers, Eric Nixon will, and always should be, in that discussion.

Interesting Fact: Early in his career, Nixon achieved the somewhat unique feat of playing for a team in every one of the top 4 English divisions in the same season. During the 1986-87 season, he was loaned out to Wolverhampton Wanderers (4th), Bradford City (2nd), Southampton (1st) and Carlisle United (3rd), making appearances for all four clubs in their respective divisions.

Kenny Irons

Debut vs. BURY (02/12/89)

A product of the Tranmere youth system, Irons signed his first professional contract with the club in the summer of 1989 and would go on to make his debut against Bury on the 2nd December that year. It was the first of 428 games for the club over a 10-year period (1989-1999), during which Irons represented the Wirral club in 351 league matches and scored 54 league goals. Apart from his goals, Irons' skill and ability with the football made him an instant, and long-standing, crowd favourite and he played a crucial role in the squad during the heights of the assault on the Premier League and beyond.

Revered by fans and fellow professionals alike, Irons would leave Prenton Park after a decade of midfield dominance in 1999, signing for former Manchester United captain and then-Huddersfield Town manager Steve Bruce in a move worth £500,000, one of the highest transfer fees ever received for a Tranmere player at the time and still one of the most significant transfers in the club's history.

He would make a further 150 league appearances for the Terriers to ensure he ended his career with over 500 Football League matches under his belt. The fact that this was achieved with just 2 clubs says a lot about loyalty, both his to his clubs and his clubs' to him and his talents. When talking about the 1990s, it's impossible to avoid Irons' name and that, in an era of some of the biggest names in the clubs' history, says everything about his impact at Prenton Park.

Interesting Fact: Kenny was still playing as recently as 2011, turning out for Southport Amateurs in the Preston and District Premier Division alongside his old Rovers teammate Ged Brannan, over 20 years since signing his first contract with Tranmere.

Ivano Bonetti

Debut vs. SOUTHEND UNITED (17/08/96)

Five months. Fifteen games. Eleven starts. One Ivano Bonetti. It may be baffling to those for whom Ivano is nothing more than a whisper on the Wirral wind as to how he obtains a place amongst the 'icons' of the 1990s. After all, for 95% of the decade he represented one of the nine other clubs he played for during the decade. Yet, in the same way that a first car is remembered fondly for the new horizons it opens up to the individual, Bonetti often receives adulation for the journey he represented.

At the risk of extending the car metaphor beyond its welcome, the first Italian to ever represent Tranmere brought a Ferrari-like quality to the middle of the park, slick and cultured whilst at the same time exuding temperamentality and unpredictability. Exotic and mysterious, Bonetti perhaps more than anyone else symbolises the ambitious nature of the mid-nineties mentality at Prenton Park, signing for John Aldridge in the summer of 1996 just four years after collecting a runners-up medal for Sampdoria in the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley.

In total, Ivano arrived in Birkenhead with a CV that boasted spells with Brescia, Genoa, Juventus, Atalanta, Bologna, Sampdoria, Bologna, Brescia, Torino and Grimsby Town and in that time he had won two Italian Serie 'A' titles and the aforementioned European Cup runners-up medal.

Whilst he may not have reached those heights in the white of Rovers, hearing his song ring around Prenton Park is one of my earliest memories of Tranmere. To this day there will be times when that tune pops into my head (and likely many others) and it's impossible not to sing along. “Ivan, Ivan, Ivano, Ivano, Ivano. Ivan, Ivan, Ivano, Ivano Bonetti.”

Interesting Fact: Ivano comes from a proud footballing family, his father Aldo appearing for Brescia, his brother Mario for Atalanta and, perhaps most famously, his brother Dario over one hundred times for Roma and twice for Italy.

John Morrissey

Debut vs. SOUTHEND UNITED (04/10/85)

John's formative years were spent with home-town Everton, where he progressed through the youth ranks to make his senior debut for the Goodison Park outfit during the 1984/85 season. It would prove to be his only senior appearance for the club and he transferred to Wolverhampton Wanderers the following season. During 1985, John made 10 outings for the Molineux men before making the move to Prenton Park and Tranmere Rovers later that year in an £8,000 transfer, a fee which consumed manager Frank Worthington's budget completely. It's impossible to argue he wasn't worth it.

John and the Prenton Park touchlines would become very familiar over the course of a Rovers career that spanned 14 years and the entirety of the “Trip to the Moon”. In total, John made 585 appearances and scored 64 goals for Tranmere, placing him fourth on the all-time appearance list for the club behind just Ray Mathias, Harold Bell and Steve Mungall. He was a key component of the supply line for a striking line-up that fired Tranmere to the verge of the Premier League. If Aldridge, Muir or Malkin got the goal, chances are Morrissey had a hand in the build-up.

Following in the footsteps of a famous and successful father was never going to be easy, but John had the skill, ability, heart, desire and application to forge his own chapter in the footballing annals. He started at the bottom, seeing the dark days of the late 1980s blossom into the glory years of the early-90s. With an ever-expanding national audience, John's talents were there for all to see yet his loyalty to the Rovers cause almost made him a Premier League player. He probably should have been but you won't find many Tranmere fans disappointed that he chose the 'wrong' side of the Mersey to showcase himself. Quite simply, John Morrissey is a Rovers legend and one of, if not the, first names that comes to mind when you think 90s icon.

Interesting Fact: John's father, Johnny Morrissey Snr, was also a professional footballer most associated with Everton, with whom he won two English titles. He joined the Toffees from arch rivals Liverpool in 1962 for a £10,000 fee.

John Aldridge

Debut vs. BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (17/8/91)

John Aldridge is a footballing icon and is, without question, the most instinctive player to ever pull on a Tranmere Rovers shirt. In a career that saw his goalscoring exploits rewarded with 69 international caps for the Republic of Ireland, John scored an astonishing 476 goals in 889 appearances at club level.

Aldridge started his footballing education with South Liverpool before joining Newport County, making his professional debut at the relatively late age of 20 years old in 1979. During his time at Somerton Park, he scored 87 goals in 198 matches, helping Newport earn promotion to the Third Division. His form for Newport persuaded Oxford to spend £78,000 to acquire his services and, although he was in the squad that won the Third Division title in the 1983/84 season, it was the following year he began to repay that investment.

During his first season with Oxford, Aldridge scored 34 second-tier goals, becoming the first player outside the First Division to score more than 29 goals for 19 years. Unsurprisingly, Oxford won promotion again, this time to the top tier of English Football, where Aldridge finished as the 3rd highest scorer in his debut season at the top table. During his spell at Oxford, Aldridge scored 90 goals in 141 games and was granted a move to his boyhood heroes Liverpool after impressing as a top-flight marksman and 1986 League Cup winner with the U's. Indeed, he had already scored 15 goals in 25 games at the start of the 1986/87 season before he moved to Anfield for £750,000 in January 1987.

His time at Liverpool saw Aldridge win the English First Division title in 1987/88, the FA Cup in 1988/89 and two Charity Shields. John contributed to these successes with 63 goals in 104 matches but he left the club after just two seasons. His £1million move to Real Sociedad saw him become the first non-Basque player to ever represent the Spanish side and he repaid their faith with 40 goals in 75 appearances across two seasons. However, John requested a transfer back to England and this was achieved when he signed for Tranmere in June 1991 for a then-record £250,000. At 33 years old, there were many who questioned if John was past his best but he put them wrong in style on the Prenton Park turf.

His debut 1991/92 season saw him equal the club record of 40 goals in one campaign, ironically securing the feat against Oxford United. In total, Aldridge would score 174 goals in 294 matches for Rovers, helping them reach the second-tier play-offs in three consecutive seasons. Whilst at Prenton Park, he continued to represent the Republic of Ireland a further 30 times, the most international caps any Tranmere player has achieved whilst still at the club. His goal against Mexico in the 1994 USA World Cup also meant he became the first Tranmere player to score at the World Cup Finals. Aldridge took over as player-manager at Rovers in April 1996 and continued playing until the end of the 1997/98 season, fittingly scoring on his last ever appearance against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

A goalscorer until the end, 'Aldo' would go on to keep the club in the second tier for a further 2 seasons and managed the club to their first, and only, major cup final, leading the side out at Wembley for the 2000 League Cup final against Leicester City before ultimately falling just short with 10 men, losing 2-1.

Aldridge's time at Rovers is unforgettable, but his name has, and will continue to be, pride of place at Prenton Park, with a newly formed Social Club and various other events held in the Aldo's suite named in his honour. John King's 'Gunslinger' represents the best £250,000 the club has ever spent and it could be argued that his transfer to Rovers is the greatest steal of all-time. We may have stolen Aldridge but he stole our hearts.

Interesting Fact: John's tally of 330 career league goals is the sixth highest in English football history.

Pat Nevin

Debut vs. PORT VALE (06/03/92)

A youth association with home-town Celtic failed to develop into a professional contract for Pat, who instead made his professional debut for Scottish side Clyde in 1981. His debut season was a roaring success, his 14 goals in 30 starts helping the club lift the Scottish Second Division Title and earning Pat the SPFA Second Division Player of the Year award. He followed that up with 6 more goals in 44 starts the following season which secured him a move to Chelsea in 1983 for £95,000.

Pat scored 14 goals in the 1983/84 season as Chelsea were promoted to the First Division as Second Division champions, Pat's second title in three professional seasons. His performances were again recognised on a personal level, with Pat being voted the Player of the Year at Chelsea for that campaign. Nevin would continue to electrify the Stamford Bridge faithful over the course of the coming seasons, again winning the Player of the Season award for the 1986/87 season. Chelsea struggled the following year and relegation saw Nevin sold to Everton for £1.75million in 1988.

His time with the Toffees yielded 20 goals in 138 appearances but they failed to live up to the heights of the 1980s, although Nevin did collect an FA Cup runners-up medal in 1989. The arrival of Howard Kendall at Everton in November 1990 saw Pat fall out of favour at Goodison Park and he was loaned to Tranmere in March 1992, for whom he made his debut against Port Vale. His loan move was a success and he joined permanently in August 1992 for a £300,000 fee, breaking the club record transfer fee in the process.

During his debut season, Scotland drew upon Pat's talents for the games against Malta, Portugal and Estonia, making him the first Tranmere player to earn a full cap for Scotland. In typical fashion, he scored 3 goals in those matches. He was also in fine scoring form at club level, scoring a career best 16 goals in his maiden campaign at Prenton Park. Pat would continue to represent the club in scintillating performances throughout his 5-year tenure with Rovers, scoring 39 goals in 239 appearances between 1992 and 1997. He had also collected 14 international caps whilst at Tranmere before transferring to play his club football North of the border too, signing for Kilmarnock in 1997 for a £60,000 fee.

Alongside John Morrissey, Nevin supplied the ammunition for some of the best strikers in the club's history. He has since gone on to work in the media and always has nice things to say about his time at Tranmere. As fondly as he remembers his time here, chances are the fans remember him even more so.

Interesting Fact: In 1993, Pat was elected chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, which highlights how highly respected he was by his fellow professionals.

Danny Coyne

Debut vs. PETERBOROUGH UNITED (08/05/93)

Danny came through the Tranmere youth ranks at a time when the club was experiencing the euphoria of the early 1990s. In goal was the legendary Eric Nixon and it was up to Danny to challenge the big man for the goalkeeping spot. Making his debut towards the end of the 1992/93 season, Coyne would continue to play a role in the squad before taking over as the number one goalkeeper in the 1995/96 season. He played every game that year and earned his first full cap for Wales in 1996.

Over the course of the next few seasons, Tranmere were blessed with a truly remarkable array of young goalkeepers, with Steve Simonsen and Joe Murphy knocking on the door, waiting in the wings for a chance to succeed Coyne between the sticks. Although Danny more than held his own in that regard, making 110 appearances for the club, he chose to transfer to Grimsby Town in 1999.

Whilst at Grimsby, Danny would win two Supporters' Player of the Season awards in four years and establish himself firmly in the Welsh international setup. After Grimsby were relegated from the second tier in 2003, Coyne called time on his Blundell Park career after 181 games and instead moved on to the Premier League and Leicester City. He struggled to unseat first choice Ian Walker, himself an international with England, and made just four appearances for the Foxes in his one year stay.

He attempted to reassert himself as a number one goalkeeper at Burnley, battling with Brian Jensen for the spot. Over three years at Turf Moor, Coyne made 40 appearances for the Clarets but decided to move on at the end of his deal in 2007. It was in the summer of 2007 that Coyne re-joined Rovers, his intervening experiences serving to improve him and he was firmly the first choice at Prenton Park. During his second spell at the club, Coyne played 80 matches across two seasons as Tranmere knocked on the door of the League One play-off places, coming agonisingly close in 2009 when they were 2 minutes away from claiming the final place. Instead, Scunthorpe equalised and took the spot in place of Rovers.

Despite the disappointment of the season, Coyne kept an incredible 20 clean sheets that year and won the League One Golden Glove award. His heroics in goal also helped Tranmere to an 18-match unbeaten home run during his second spell at the club. After missing out on the play-offs, the club could no longer afford to keep its big name players and Coyne was one of a few first choice players who moved on. He would make 26 appearances for Championship Middlesborough before signing terms with Sheffield United and Shrewsbury Town, both of whom he failed to represent in the league.

Despite the fierce competition of the decade, there is a definite case that can be made to say Danny was the best goalkeeper the club had during that period. He burst onto the scene as a young prodigy, improved under Eric Nixon's guidance and established himself as first choice in the face of serious competition from two other excellent prospects. The fact that Danny came back and was even better means he is my personal favourite Rovers goalkeeper, but I'm sure most would agree he is an icon of the 1990s.

Interesting Fact: After Micky Mellon departed Shrewsbury to take over as Tranmere manager, Danny briefly took charge of Shrewsbury Town as a caretaker in 2016.

Clint Hill

Debut vs. NOTTINGHAM FOREST (18/10/97)

Between 1994 and 1997, Clint developed through the Tranmere youth system. His talents were such that he was signed to a professional contract in the summer of 1997 and he went on to make his debut against Nottingham Forest that October. A commanding yet skilful centre back, Clint had all the tools required to take him to the very top. Throughout his five year stay at Prenton Park, his tough tackling and no-nonsense approach earnt him a hero status beyond his youthful years.

Prone to taking the physical side of the game a little too far at times, Clint was a trusted base from which Tranmere could build, yet he wasn't shy on the scoring front himself. He managed 16 goals during his time with the club, which is a respectable total for someone whose first job was to keep goals out at the other end.

Clint was instrumental in helping Tranmere stay in the second tier and was also a key cog in the machine that took Rovers all the way to the 2000 League Cup final. However, the edge in his game saw him sent off in the final, although he did have a runners-up medal to help ease the pain. In total, Clint made over 140 appearances for the club between 1997 and 2002, when he transferred to rivals Oldham Athletic.

His first goal for the Latics came against Tranmere and he made an impressive start before breaking his leg, an injury that would keep him out for the rest of the season. Despite making just 18 league appearances for Oldham, second-tier Stoke City were willing to sign Clint in 2003 for £120,000. He stayed with the Potters for five seasons, the first of which was restricted due to ongoing medical issues.

However, the 'true' Clint would return in the 2005/05 season when he was award the club's Player of the Year award. The remainder of his time at Stoke was blighted by intermittent injuries that stopped him from completing as many matches as he would like, however by the time he left the Potteries he had still amassed 80 league games and scored 3 goals.

A loan move to Crystal Palace became permanent in 2008 and Clint would go on to make 101 appearances for the club in just two seasons, firmly banishing the ghosts of his injury-hit spell with Stoke. During his time at Selhurst Park, Palace reached the play-offs for promotion to the Premier League but fell just short in the semi-finals. His time at the club was cut short due to financial problems and he was snapped up by Queens Park Rangers on a free transfer, reuniting with his old Palace boss Neil Warnock. He played a key role in their 2010/11 Championship title win, however he would be sent off on his Premier League debut against Bolton Wanderers. With that being said, he would go on to help keep the club up that season. Although they were relegated the following season, Hill captained the club to promotion again in 2013/14 as they secured a Play-off final victory against Derby.

Between 2010 and 2016, Hill made 169 appearances for QPR and scored 5 goals. The style of play that warmed Tranmere hearts engaged the Loftus Road crowds to the extent that he won the Supporters' Player of the Year award in two consecutive seasons, 2011/12 and 2012/13. On top of this, he won the Players' Player of the Year award for 2011/12. After his release in the summer of 2016, Hill joined Scottish giants Rangers, becoming their oldest debutant at 37 years and 274 days old. His goal against Ross County in November 2016 also made him the oldest player to score a goal in the Scottish Premier League at 38 years and 10 days old.

Whilst Clint only played for Tranmere for 5 seasons, his undoubted talent left a significant impression. Whilst other, more attacking, players of his generation may steal the spotlight, there is a case to be made that Clint is the most successful of all the Tranmere graduates of the 1990's. Yes, he failed to appear for his country but, as an Englishman, very few do. However, his repeated success at the second and top tier of English football, coupled with his longevity, make him a genuine contender for the honour. He may have been young but Clint Hill is definitely a 1990s icon.

Interesting Fact: Clint's tally of 16 league goals for Tranmere is more than in the rest of his career to date combined (15).

John McGreal

Debut vs. SOUTHEND UNITED (25/04/92)

Born in Birkenhead, John became one of a select group of players to come through the ranks to represent his home-town club. A youth career at Rovers developed into a professional contract, signed in 1990, for the young McGreal. In a Tranmere career that encapsulated almost the entire decade of the 1990s, John would go on to make his debut against Southend United in 1992, the first of 233 appearances. He played for two Tranmere legends, first for John King and subsequently John Aldridge and the defender clearly picked up a few nuggets of their experience, developing into a player that Ipswich Town were willing to pay £650,000 to secure in 1999.

The move would be an immediate success for John, earning promotion to the Premier League in his first season after a 4-2 win in the Division One Play-off final against Barnsley. John would continue to achieve success the following year, helping Ipswich finish an astounding 5th in their first season in the Premier League and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Relegation the following season saw McGreal back in Division One and injuries would stall the remainder of his Ipswich tenure. He returned to play a part in Ipswich reach the 2004 Play-off semi-finals but, after they were defeated by West Ham United, McGreal transferred to Burnley in 2004 after 123 appearances for Ipswich.

Three seasons at Burnley between 2004 and 2007 saw him make a further 106 appearances before, after an unsuccessful trial with Championship Colchester United, John decided to retire from playing. He has since developed into a coach, starting as manager of Colchester United.

Whilst he may not be in the immediate conversation, the fact he was contracted to the club for 90% of the decade, seeing the highs and lows that came during those years, means John is an icon of the 1990s. If you can remember it, John was there and with that in mind, he is synonymous with the period. His £650,000 transfer fee is still one of the more significant received by the club and for him to bring that type of money, he must have had something special about him. A career that saw him make over 450 appearances, all in the top two tiers of the English football pyramid, proves this.

Interesting Fact: John scored his first goal for Rovers on 23rd February 1994, scoring the opener in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City at Filbert Street. However, he also scored for Leicester, putting into his own net later that match.

Liam O'Brien

Debut vs. BOLTON WANDERERS (23/01/94)

A youth with Stella Maris, Liam joined Bohemians in 1982. He made just five appearances for the club yet this was enough to earn him a place in the Republic of Ireland's Under-18 squad for the 1983 UEFA European Under-18 Championships. From Bohemians, he joined Shamrock Rovers for whom he played 118 matches, scored 21 goals and won three consecutive League of Ireland titles in 1984, 1985 and 1986. Additionally, he won the FAI Cup in 1985 and 1986 and he also won the PFAI Young Player of the Season award in his final season with Shamrock.

He departed for Ron Atkinson's Manchester United for a £50,000 fee but, after the arrival of Alex Ferguson as manager, left the club in 1988. He joined Newcastle United for £275,000 after just 36 games for the Red Devils.

His debut season for Newcastle saw the club relegated in 1989 but he would gain a promotion back to the top tier in 1993, as O'Brien scored 6 goals in 33 matches to help the Toon Army lift the 1993 First Division title (renamed after the introduction of the Premier League as the top tier of the pyramid). After 151 games and 19 goals for Newcastle, O'Brien made a loan move to Tranmere permanent in 1994 and he would play a central role in the middle of the park over the next five years.

His stay at Prenton Park was the most productive of his career in terms of appearances, making 181 league outings and scoring 12 goals for the Super Whites. He was involved in various memorable matches during his time with the club, however perhaps the most memorable of all is the 1994 League Cup semi-final first leg against Aston Villa, Tranmere securing a 3-1 advantage in front of 17,114 supporters at Prenton Park.

Upon his departure in 1999, O'Brien joined Cork City and then Bohemians before calling time on his career in 2002, winning the League and Cup double with the Bohs on his way out. Liam went on to hold coaching roles with Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and Hibernian after his playing career drew to a close. The 16-cap Irish international deserves his place amongst the icons of the 1990s because he was there, alongside some of the best to ever wear a Tranmere shirt and providing some of the most exciting memories in many Rovers fans' minds.

Interesting Fact: Liam holds the unique distinction of receiving the fastest red card in Manchester United history, sent off after just 85 seconds of their game against Southampton in January 1987.

Shaun Teale

Debut vs. WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (12/08/95)

Starting his professional career at non-League Weymouth in 1988, Teale made a £50,000 transfer to Bournemouth in 1989. He stayed with the Cherries for two seasons, making 100 appearances and scoring 4 goals. His performances attracted the interest of Aston Villa, for whom he signed in July 1991.

His time at Villa Park was successful on team and individual basis, playing 147 times as Villa finished runners-up in the 1993 Premier League and won the 1994 League Cup, knocking Tranmere out in a heart-breaking semi-final along the way. Teale scored for Villa during that tie. He fell out of favour at Villa Park and he made the switch to Prenton Park in the summer of 1995 for a fee of £450,000, a club record that still stands as of 2017.

In his first season, Teale managed 29 league appearances and would follow that up with a further 25 during the 1996/97 season. He was loaned out to Preston North End in 1997 before spending time on loan at Hong Kong side Sing Tao SC later in the campaign. He would move on the Motherwell, Carlisle United, Southport, Burscough and Northwich Victoria before retiring in 2004. He managed Burscough, Northwich Victoria and Chorley during a short 4-year managerial career.

Whilst his time at Tranmere wasn't as successful as anyone would have hoped, the fact that he remains the club's record signing means he almost earns his iconic status by default. That may seem a little unfair, as he did have 2 reasonably successful seasons after joining the club but he, perhaps more than any other player, represents the ultimate disappointment of the 1990s campaigns. He, like Tranmere, never quite reached the heights but the excitement of spending almost half a million pounds on a player is forever etched in Tranmere folk law and for that reason he is included in this list.

Interesting Fact: Whilst manager of Burscough, Teale won the 2003 FA Trophy.

Steve Simonsen

Debut vs. BRADFORD CITY (15/11/97)

After his release from Nottingham Forest in the summer of 1996, Tranmere picked up the young prospect Steve Simonsen as a trainee in August 1996. He made his senior debut just over a year later, against Bradford City in November 1997. During his short tenure as the club's first choice goalkeeper, Steve set a club record with 7 consecutive clean sheets, a run which represents an astounding 17% of his entire Tranmere career.

His impact in the side was such that by September 1998, after just 42 appearances, Steve made the move across the Mersey to Premier League Everton. At the time, it was thought to be an English record for a goalkeeper as the fee was reported as £3.3million, however the deal was structured in a way that the bulk was made up in future clauses that never materialised and the actual fee was £1million. At the time, however, this was one of the most controversial transfers in the club's history due to the roles Peter Johnson occupied at both Tranmere and Everton simultaneously.

His time at Everton never fulfilled his enormous potential due to a change of manager and a subsequent lack of playing time. A torrid time that yielded just 35 appearances in six seasons led to Steve rejecting a new contract in favour of a move to Stoke City in 2004. At the Potters, Steve was able to recapture the form that persuaded Everton to sign him in 1998 and he represented the club over 200 times in a 6-year spell. During this time, Steve also set a Stoke City record for consecutive clean sheets, matching the 7 shut-outs he achieved at Tranmere. On a collective basis, Steve earned promotion to the Premier League in 2007/08, finishing as Championship runners-up and claiming an automatic promotion place.

A transfer to Sheffield United in 2009 saw Steve go on to make 108 appearances for the Blades over the next 3 years, however relegation to League One in 2010/11 and a failure to secure an immediate return to the Championship in 2011/12 meant Steve could no longer stay with Sheffield United. Spells with Preston North End, Dundee, Rangers and Indian side FC Pune City brought his playing career to an end in 2015 after a total of 440 appearances.

It may be difficult to grasp how a young goalkeeper with just 42 appearances could earn the status of 'icon' but the facts speak for themselves. A club record for clean sheets, a £1million transfer and the potential for up to £2.3million in bonuses from Everton show how highly regarded Steve was at the time. The buzz he created in such a short space of time has, arguably, never been replicated since, especially considering he was a goalkeeper. If you think about the 1990s at Tranmere, it won't be too long before Steve Simonsen enters the picture.

Interesting Fact: Although Steve has represented England at Under-21 level, the fact that he never made a senior appearance means he could have represented Denmark due to his Danish father.