Where are they now? The Rovers side that faced Cardiff in a 2005 FA Cup tie

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This weekend sees high-flying Rovers return to league action for a long trip to the Welsh capital to take on struggling Cardiff City. Pete Charnley looks back at a memorable meeting with the Bluebirds and the squad that played that day.

This week’s ‘Where are they now?‘ takes us to 2005 where a struggling Rovers side took a break from Premier League action to face Championship outfit Cardiff City at Ninian Park.

This game will be remembered for a certain Norwegian breaking into the team and bagging his first goal in Rovers colours in a 1-1 draw, and Mark Hughes’ side went on to progress through to the fourth round of the FA Cup. after a 3-2 win in the replay.

We take a look at the Rovers’ squad from that day and look at where they have ended up.

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Brad Friedel

A regular in most Rovers fans all-time starting 11, American ‘keeper Brad Friedel signed for Rovers on a free transfer from Liverpool.

One of Friedel’s most memorable games in a Rovers shirt was in the Worthington Cup final where he denied Tottenham’s strikers on a number of occasions.

Friedel left the club for Aston Villa after 290 league appearances, scoring one goal against Charlton.

He currently holds the Premiership record for consecutive appearances, and is exploring new business ventures after time in management.

You can check out our podcast with Brad Friedel, who discusses his time with the club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XywEeHiHBlI

Lucas Neill

Australian defender Neill was signed from Millwall in the summer of 2001, and his aggressive performances on the field made him a firm fan favourite.

After 188 games and five goals, Neill left under a dark cloud citing financial reasons for leaving.

Following spells at nine different clubs after leaving Rovers, Neill retired in 2014, and has stayed out of the spotlight.

Nils-Eric Johansson

Capped three times by Sweden, versatile defender Johansson signed for Rovers in 2002 from German side Nurnberg.

Not always a regular in the team, Johansson was always a solid but unspectacular member of the squad.

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND – JANUARY 15: Lomana Tresor LuaLua of Portsmouth is put under pressure by Nils-Eric Johansson of Blackburn during the FA Barclays Premiership match between Portsmouth and Blackburn Rovers, at Fratton Park on January 15, 2005 in Portsmouth, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Upon leaving the club, he signed for Leicester and finished his career at former side AIK, but was forced into retirement due to a heart condition.

He played 86 times in the league for Rovers, scoring his only goal in the Worthington Cup. He is yet to take up a role in football since retirement.

You can check out our podcast with Nils-Eric Johansson, who discusses his time with the club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtZPyt4vAQU

Andy Todd

Signed in 2002, Todd found opportunities hard to come by and a red card for booting Christophe Dugarry saw him frozen out.

A successful loan spell fierce rivals Burnley saw Todd reignite his Rovers career, being named captain and winning player of the year in the 2004/05 season.

He left the club in 2007, with 88 appearances to his name scoring four times. His last known role in football was as assistant manager of FC Pirin Blagoevgrad, where he left the Bulgarian club early in the 2020-21 season.

Dominic Matteo

Signed from Leeds, the versatile Matteo suffered injuries during his time with the club, playing only 34 times over three years

He left the club to join Stoke City, and eventually retired in 2009 where he started his coaching badges.

More recently, Matteo underwent surgery due to a brain tumour and was declared fully recovered in April 2020, and he currently has his own website covering Leeds United.

David Thompson

Signed for a bargain £1.5m, ‘Tommo’ was a fan’s favourite straight away with his all-action displays and spectacular goals.

He was called up to the England squad during his time at Ewood but unfortunately never made a senior appearance.

Suffering with injuries, Thompson left the club to join this week’s opponents after seven goals in 65 appearances.

He is currently combining his media work with a role with the Gibraltar team Europa FC.

Barry Ferguson

Rangers legend Ferguson was signed by Graeme Souness for £7.5m. During his time at the club, Ferguson never lived up to his reputation and after suffering a fractured knee against Newcastle, he made his return north of the border, making just 36 appearances and scoring three goals.

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 2: Barry Ferguson of Blackburn celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa at Ewood Park on October 2, 2004 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Spells at Birmingham and Blackpool followed, and after hanging up his boots, Ferguson moved into management. He is currently manager of Scottish side Alloa Athletic.

Garry Flitcroft

Signed from Man City in 1996, Flitcroft went on to play 248 times for Rovers, scoring 14 times.

He was sent off on his debut for the club, but quickly settled into the team, and he later became club captain.

Flitcroft retired in 2006 after a short spell at Sheffield United, and following management jobs with Leigh Genesis (2009-10) and a notably successful one with Chorley (2010-15), he now runs his own business.

Morten Gamst Pedersen

Signed for just £1.5m, club legend MGP was known for his dedication, his wand of a left foot and his spectacular goals.

During his time with the club, he scored many rememberable goals including a brace at Old Trafford and the winner against Burnley at Ewood in the FA Cup. Struggling to break into the side initially, Pedersen went onto make an incredible 288 league appearances for Rovers, scoring 35 goals.

Despite being 40 years old, Pedersen is still scoring spectacular goals back home in Norway with Alta, where recently he has scored a number of goals directly from a corner.

Paul Dickov

Not necessarily known for his scoring ability, Dickov;s tenacious style of play made him a favourite at the clubs he played for during his career. He played a big part in Rovers’ fight for survival under Hughes, and scored 14 times in his 50 appearances.

Dickov left the club for a second spell with Manchester City, and spent time with Crystal Palace, Blackpool, Leicester City, Derby County, Leeds United and Oldham Athletic before retiring in 2011.

He spent time in charge of Oldham (2010-13) and Doncaster Rovers (2013-15), and he now works as a pundit for Manchester City’s video channels.

Jon Stead

Signed in 2004 from Huddersfield after an impressive first half to the season, Stead made an immediate impact, scoring the winner on his debut at Middlesbrough.

He went on to score six goals, including vital winners against Fulham, Manchester United and Everton as Rovers avoided relegation from the Premiership.

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND – MAY 1: Jonathan Stead of Blackburn Rovers celebrates scoring their winning goal during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United at Ewood Park on May 1, 2004 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

The goals dried up the following season and with manager Mark Hughes signing additional forwards including Welsh international Craig Bellamy, Stead was transferred in 2005 to Sunderland in a deal worth £1.8 million.

13(!) Clubs later, Stead recently retired after helping Harrogate Town reach league football, and he is currently embarking on a coaching career in the USA.

Subs: Peter Enckelman, Steven Reid, Aaron Mokoena (for Barry Ferguson), Paul Gallagher (for Jon Stead), Jemal Johnson (for Paul Dickov)

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