BURNLEY ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Clarke Carlisle and Graham Alexander (R) of Burnley battle for the ball in the air with Rob Hulse (C) of Queens Park Rangers during the npower Championship match between Burnley and Queens Park Rangers at Turf Moor on January 15 2011 in Burnley England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Here's to Graham Alexander, who played his last professional match at the weekend. He was a great asset for Burnley in the Premier League, and was a fantasy manager's best friend. As I wrote in my 2009 The Rules column, not only did he line up ahead of his listed position (rule #1):
This year I'm looking at Graham Alexander, a nominal right-back, to get a lot of games for Burnley in midfield.
but he also took set pieces (rule #3):
Graham Alexander is Burnley's penalty kick taker, so he's ticked off two of my boxes already.
And indeed he turned out to be a great fantasy buy. Scoring seven goals that season and playing almost every game. He was one of those players whom when they were injured you didn't sell because you knew you couldn't get similar value at that position with anyone else.
His last match... well, I'll let a surprisingly eloquent Wikipedia entry tell you what happened.
He played his final game on 28 April 2012 against Charlton Athletic as a substitute in the 84th minute for Max Ehmer. This was supposed to be a cameo appearance to allow the Preston supporters to show the appreciation of his service to the club. In stoppage time however, with Preston losing 1-2, Preston were awarded a a free kick twenty-five yards from goal. Alexander stepped up to curl the ball around the wall and inside the near post with the very last kick of his career. No-one would have dared write such an end to the career of a great servant of a club. Even the Charlton supporters cheered.
Here's the video of a truly amazing moment: