Craig Gordon

Craig Gordon
Personal information
Full name Craig Anthony Gordon[1]
Date of birth (1982-12-31) 31 December 1982[1]
Place of birth Edinburgh, Scotland
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[1]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Club information
Current team
Number 1
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2000–2007 Heart of Midlothian 139 (0)
2001–2002Cowdenbeath (loan) 12 (0)
2007–2012 Sunderland 88 (0)
2014– Celtic 77 (0)
National team
2002–2003 Scotland U21 5 (0)
2003–2005 Scotland B 2 (0)
2004– Scotland 45 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:55, 19 November 2016 (UTC).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 12 November 2016

Craig Anthony Gordon (born 31 December 1982) is a Scottish professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Celtic.

Gordon started his career with Scottish Premier League side Heart of Midlothian (Hearts). After spending part of the 2001–02 season on loan to Scottish Second Division side Cowdenbeath, Gordon established himself in the Hearts first team in 2003 and helped the team win the 2005–06 Scottish Cup. He also became the regular goalkeeper for the Scotland national football team.

English Premier League club Sunderland bought Gordon in 2007 for £9 million,[2] which was a record fee paid by a British club for a goalkeeper. Gordon suffered serious injuries during his time with Sunderland and was released from his contract in 2012. After two years out of the professional game, Gordon signed for Celtic in July 2014.

Club career

Early career

Born in Edinburgh,[1] Gordon attended Balerno Community High School from 1994 until 1999. His father, David Gordon, played in goal for several East of Scotland clubs, and Gordon spent many Saturday afternoons as a child watching him play.[3] Gordon started off his own career as a goalkeeper at local team Currie Boys Football Club, and then went on to join and graduate from the Heart of Midlothian (Hearts) youth development programme.

Cowdenbeath (loan)

Gordon was loaned to lower league club Cowdenbeath in 2001. In his time there he continued to train regularly with Hearts, but spent two nights a week training with Cowdenbeath.[4] His first professional game was at Forthbank against Stirling Albion, and he went on to make a total of 13 appearances before being recalled by Hearts.[4][5] Cowdenbeath went undefeated in their home games during Gordon's time there,[4] and he won praise for an outstanding performance in an away league 3–1 win over Queen of the South. Divisional champions that season, Queens dominated the game, but Gordon's saves thwarted them time and again, with QoS manager John Connolly describing Gordon's performance as "sensational".[6]

Heart of Midlothian

Gordon made his debut for Heart of Midlothian (Hearts) in a 1–1 draw with Livingston on 6 October 2002.[7] His one other appearance that season was in a 4–0 defeat against Falkirk on 25 January 2003 in the third round of the Scottish Cup.[8] Over the course of the following season, 2003–04 season, he edged out Tepi Moilanen as the regular Hearts goalkeeper, playing in 29 of Hearts' league fixtures.[7][9] Gordon made his first appearance in European competition on 6 November 2003, playing in the first leg of Hearts' UEFA Cup second round tie in France against Bordeaux. He performed well and kept a clean sheet in an impressive 1–0 win for Hearts.[10] Despite that result, Heart lost the return leg 2–0 in Edinburgh to go out on aggregate.[11] His performances that year resulted in him being short-listed for the Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year award,[12][13] which was eventually won by then Celtic midfielder Stephen Pearson.[14] Manager Craig Levein praised Gordon for his performances, stating that he had a "brilliant" season and that whilst Levein initially only intended to play him in a handful of games, "he did so well that I couldn't take him out [of the first team]."[15]

Gordon celebrating with fellow Hearts teammates following his performance in Hearts' 2006 Scottish Cup victory

Gordon had become a Scotland regular by 2005 and his consistent displays during the 2005–06 season helped Hearts to a second-place finish in the Scottish Premier League[13][16] and victory in the Scottish Cup. The trophy was won in a penalty shootout against Gretna following a 1–1 draw, with Gordon saving opponent Derek Townsley's penalty.[17] That season he was voted Scottish Football Writers' Association Player of the Year, becoming the first Hearts player to win the award since Sandy Jardine in 1986 and also the first goalkeeper since Rangers' Andy Goram in 1993.[13][18]

For much of the 2006–07 season rumours linked Gordon with a move away from Tynecastle, particularly following his involvement in the issuing of a statement against club owner Vladimir Romanov. Gordon and Paul Hartley flanked captain Steven Pressley as he read out a statement claiming there was "significant unrest" in the Hearts dressing room.[19] The venue for this statement, Hearts' Riccarton training ground, led to the media dubbing the players the "Riccarton Three".[13][20] Rangers, Aston Villa, Arsenal and Manchester United were all credited with an interest in the player in late 2006. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger observed Gordon in action in Scotland's 1–0 victory against France in a Euro 2008 qualifying match.[21] He touted Gordon as having "presence and good handling and [he] looks a very good goalkeeper to me." Gordon confirmed his rising stock with a spectacular cross-goal save in the October 2006 Edinburgh derby[21] and the following month he was named as Hearts' new captain, replacing the departed Pressley. Despite Hearts' claims that he was ill, he was "dropped" to the bench for the game against Dundee United in December 2006 for what many believed to be a disciplinary measure by the club following his involvement in the "Riccarton Three" statement.[22] He was reinstated for the Edinburgh derby match against Hibernian three days later. He was not listed in the squad to face Rangers on 27 January 2007, four days before the closure of the transfer window, and it was confirmed by the club that they were negotiating his transfer.[23] Gordon remained a Hearts player when the window closed.

In March 2007, Gordon expressed his interest in playing for Arsenal, after reports had cited that he was linked as a candidate to succeed the veteran Jens Lehmann as Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper, stating "Arsenal is one of the top teams in Britain, in Europe, if not the world, so it is something that would definitely interest any player".[24] Hearts failure to qualify for European competition at the season's end further increased speculation that Gordon would be sold, with Sunderland and Aston Villa rumoured suitors in July 2007.[25] His appearance in Hearts 3–1 friendly defeat by Barcelona on 28 July[26] proved to be his last for the club.

On 8 November 2007, Gordon was inducted into the Hearts Hall of Fame. Still only 24, he was the youngest player ever to have that honour bestowed upon him.[13]


Gordon (blue shirt) playing for Sunderland against Fulham in 2008

In August 2007, Gordon agreed a five-year contract with Sunderland.[27] The £9 million fee was the highest a British club had ever paid for a goalkeeper,[28] until Manchester United paid around £17 million for David de Gea in 2011.[29] Gordon made his debut for Sunderland in the opening game of the 2007–08 Premier League against Tottenham Hotspur, keeping a clean sheet as his side won 1–0. During this match, the rival goalkeeper was Paul Robinson and the England first choice. It was the first time a Scotland first choice goalkeeper and an England first choice goalkeeper had faced each other in a club match since 2001, when Arsenal's David Seaman faced Tottenham's Neil Sullivan.

Following Sunderland's 7–1 loss to Everton in December, Sunderland manager Roy Keane dropped Gordon to the bench and Welsh goalkeeper Darren Ward took his place. Gordon regained his place as first choice goalkeeper three games later.[30]

Midway through the 2008–09 season, Gordon was sidelined for several months with a knee injury and found himself as backup to Márton Fülöp. He regained his place in the starting eleven at the beginning of the 2009–10 season. On 7 November away at Tottenham Hotspur, he broke his arm after being deliberately kicked by Jermain Defoe[31] and was sidelined for nearly three months.[32] He returned on 23 January in a game against Portsmouth.[33]

During the summer of 2010, Gordon had surgery on his broken arm to remove a metal plate. He returned to training days later, but he fractured his arm again during a training session. It was confirmed he would miss the start of the 2010–11 Premier League campaign, with Sunderland's new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet deputising. When Gordon returned from injury, Mignolet remained the first choice goalkeeper. On 9 November 2010, Gordon made his first appearance of the season away at Tottenham Hotspur. The game ended in a 1–1 draw. Gordon also starred in Sunderland's 3–0 win over Chelsea. On 18 December 2010, Gordon made a stunning reflex save to deny Zat Knight in a 1–0 win against Bolton Wanderers.[34] In 2012, this effort was voted as the best save in the 20-year history of the Premier League.[34]

Injury struck again when he suffered a tendon injury in his knee, resulting in him being replaced by Mignolet.[35] Luckily for Gordon, the knee tendon problem allowed him to be the substitute goalkeeper, despite not being fully fit. On 19 April 2011, it was revealed that Gordon had undergone knee surgery to repair his knee tendon and an anterior cruciate ligament injury he had suffered.[36] The recruitment of Coventry City goalkeeper Keiren Westwood added further doubt about the Scotsman's future. Gordon was linked with Arsenal and Celtic amongst other clubs in August 2011.[37] He made his return on 4 January 2012 for the Sunderland Reserves keeping a clean sheet in their 2–0 victory over Arsenal Reserves. He returned to first team action on 28 April against Bolton Wanderers, but he was one of nine players released by Sunderland on 19 May 2012.[38]

Free agent and coaching work

Having previously been linked with a move to Celtic in 2011[39][40] and 2012.[41][42] It was reported in July 2012, while training with Hearts, Gordon had been in negotiations with Celtic but turned down the offer of a three-year contract.[43][44] Gordon did not sign with another club for two years, as he continued to be troubled by knee injuries.[45] After meeting Ian Murray while doing television work, Gordon helped Dumbarton with coaching work on a casual basis.[45] Gordon then admitted it was highly unlikely that he would play during 2012–13 and that he was considering becoming a football coach.[45] Gordon trained with Rangers during the 2013–14 season,[46][47] but wasn't offered a contract.[48] In March 2014, Gordon said that he had fully recovered from his injuries and was looking to resume his playing career.[47] In June, Celtic confirmed that Gordon had been training with them and that they were now in signing talks with him.[49]


In July 2014, Gordon signed for Celtic.[50] He made his first appearance for Celtic on 19 July, playing in the first half of a pre-season friendly against Dynamo Dresden.[51][52] Gordon made several saves in his 45-minute appearance, and said afterwards "It was good to get back playing. From a personal point of view, it's been a long time out. So it was good to get out there and to play for 45 minutes and get a clean sheet in the first half. I have to be happy with that."[52] Fraser Forster was transferred to Southampton for a reported £10 million transfer fee in August,[53] clearing the way for Gordon to become first choice goalkeeper. Gordon made his first competitive appearance in over two years on 13 August 2014,[54] a 3–0 win against St Johnstone.[55]

After only three games for Celtic, an impressive start to the season earned Gordon a recall to the Scotland national team in August 2014.[56] His impressive form for Celtic continued both domestically and in Europe especially, with impressive displays against Maribor,[56][57] Salzburg,[58][59] Dinamo Zagreb[60][61] and Astra Giurgiu,[62][63] with performances against the latter three helping Celtic qualify for the UEFA Europa League knockout stages.[64] His performances drew praise from his team mates,[65][66][67][68][69] club coaches,[58][60][70][71] national coach,[72][73] supporters[61][63][74][75][76] and observers.[57][77] Many believed he was finally over his long-term injury problems and back to his best. He was already being tagged as one of Celtic's greatest bargains.[71][77] Gordon also shutout his former team Hearts twice in cup matches.[78][79]

Gordon kept eight successive clean sheets between December and February,[80] which almost became nine until a 72nd minute St Johnstone goal ended the run on 14 February 2015.[81] An outstanding double save near the end ensured a 2–1 win for Celtic.[82] Gordon endured a torrid night in the Europa League against Inter Milan on 19 February 2015; culpable for Inter's opening goal and at fault for their third before half-time. Celtic rallied to square the match at 3-3 with an injury time goal, and Gordon went some way to redeeming his earlier errors by pulling off an outstanding save from Xherdan Shaqiri's free kick in what proved to be the last kick of the game.[83] At Inter in the second leg, Gordon further redeemed himself as he kept 10-man Celtic in the tie with a number of excellent saves until the 87th minute when Fredy Guarín scored with a powerful strike to give Inter a 1–0 win on the night and a 4–3 aggregate victory.[84] One of Gordon's saves away against Inter was compared by Scottish newspaper, the Daily Record, to the Gordon Banks save against Pele in 1970.[85]

Gordon won his first silverware with Celtic after they defeated Dundee United 2–0 in the Scottish League Cup Final on 15 March 2015.[86] He kept a clean sheet in every round of the competition,[87] which included playing in the first Old Firm game for three years.[88] According to The Scotsman in March 2015, Gordon was attracting the attention of Chelsea.[89][90] He made his 50th Celtic appearance in a 2–1 league win at Dundee on 22 April 2015.[80] A day after shutting out Dundee in a 5–0 home win,[91] Celtic were declared league champions after an Aberdeen defeat at Dundee United on 2 May 2015.[92] It was his first league title as a player. Gordon played 52 times and kept 28 clean sheets in his first season at Celtic.[80][87] Gordon was voted Player of the Year by the Scottish Football Writers' Association, and was selected in the PFA Scotland Premiership Team of the Year.[87][93][94][95] He was omitted from the PFA Players' shortlist, despite having been touted amongst the favourites to win it.[96][97][98][99]

For the 2015–16 season, Gordon was assigned the number 1 shirt to wear replacing the number 26 shirt he was handed when he had signed.[100] In July 2015, Gordon signed a new contract with Celtic until 2018.[101][102] His first match of season 2015–16 was the 2–0 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round first leg win at home to Stjarnan on 15 July 2015.[103] Celtic progressed 6–1 on aggregate.[104] The 1–0 win against Qarabağ, in the third qualifying round first leg at home, was his 30th clean sheet in 55 appearances for Celtic.[105] Celtic advanced 1–0 on aggregate.[106] Gordon also started the league campaign with consecutive clean sheets against Ross County and Partick Thistle.[107] However, Gordon's form at this time was generally poorer than the previous season, in part due to Celtic struggling to find a settled defensive line-up following the departures of centre-halves Virgil van Dijk and Jason Denayer.[108][109]

International career

Gordon made his debut for the Scotland under-21 team on 4 September 2002 at Hamilton in a 2–1 win against Israel.[110] Over the next year he played a further four times for the under 21 side.[111]

Gordon made his full international Scotland debut in a 4–1 victory against Trinidad and Tobago at Easter Road on 30 May 2004.[112] Scotland started their qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup on 8 September 2004 against Slovenia at Hampden Park. Gordon played in goal and kept a clean sheet, although Scotland were poor and struggled to a scoreless draw.[113] Having been given his debut by Berti Vogts, Gordon established himself as the Scotland first choice throughout the campaign and under Vogts' successor Walter Smith, playing in all ten of Scotland's qualifying ties.[114] BBC pundit and former player Allan Preston saw him as a potential Scottish great, describing him as "one of the best goalkeepers in Europe".[115] After a 1–1 draw with Italy Gordon drew praise from opponent Gianluigi Buffon, who said he could be one of the best goalkeepers in the world.[116] Gordon kept clean sheets as Scotland won 1–0 twice against France in UEFA Euro 2008 qualification.[117][118] He won a total of 40 caps by November 2010, but his injury problems prevented him from adding to this total for four years.[45][119]

Despite having played only three games for Celtic, Gordon's form earned him an immediate return to the Scotland squad for their game against Germany in September 2014.[56] He kept his place in the squad for games against Georgia and Poland in October 2014.[120] Gordon finally won his 41st cap, ending a four-year absence from international football, coming on as a half-time substitute in a friendly home defeat by England on 18 November 2014.[119] He made his first start for Scotland in almost five years in a 1–0 friendly home defeat of Northern Ireland on 25 March 2015.[121] It was also his first Scotland appearance at Hampden Park since March 2010.[122]

Career statistics


As of 19 November 2016[123][124]
Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
 Season  Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Scotland League Scottish Cup League Cup Europe Total
Premier League
2001–02Cowdenbeath (Loan)Second Division120-10-130
Premier League
Hearts Total 1390150801401760
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2007–08SunderlandPremier League34010--350
Sunderland Total 880304000950
2014–15CelticScottish Premiership3305040100520
2015–16 3502030120520
2016–17 90003090210
Celtic Total 770701003101250
Career Total 30302502304503960


As of 12 November 2016[125]
Scotland national team





Gordon won this award for his save against Bolton Wanderers at the Stadium of Light on 18 December 2010. Following a goal from Danny Welbeck on 32 minutes, Gordon's save was made in first-half stoppage time from a corner headed into the six-yard box by Gary Cahill, with Zat Knight touching the ball goalwards from close-range. Gordon pulled off a superb one-handed reflex save to deny Knight.[34][126]


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