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Antony Nigel Martyn (born 11 August 1966), is an English retired professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper from 1987 until 2006.

Nigel Martyn
Personal information
Full name Antony Nigel Martyn
Date of birth (1966-08-11) 11 August 1966 (age 53)
Place of birth St Austell, England
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1987–1989 Bristol Rovers 101 (0)
1989–1996 Crystal Palace 272 (0)
1996–2003 Leeds United 207 (0)
2003–2006 Everton 86 (0)
Total 680 (0)
National team
1988–1989 England U21 11 (0)
1989–1994 England B 6 (0)
1992–2002 England 23 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Having started his career with Bristol Rovers he moved to Crystal Palace where he became the first £1m goalkeeper in British football and was a member of the Palace side that lost the 1990 Cup Final and won the Full Members Cup in 1991. Subsequently, Martyn spent six seasons at Leeds United. An ankle injury forced him to retire in 2006, following three seasons at Everton. He won 23 England caps between 1992 and 2002 and was a member of the national squad at four major tournaments.

Club careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Born in St Austell, Cornwall, Martyn started his career as a midfielder until invited to play as a goalkeeper for his brother's works team when he was 17. He started by playing amateur football for Cornish sides Heavy Transport F.C., Bugle and St Blazey while working in a plastics factory and for a coal merchant,[1] before beginning his professional career with Bristol Rovers in 1987 after apparently having been "spotted" by Rovers' tea lady whilst she was on holiday.[2]

While still in Cornwall he was also a cricketer, and played with Cornwall Schoolboys as a wicket-keeper, as well as Fowey C.C.[1] Since his retirement from professional football, he has returned to cricket, playing regularly for a local Leeds team called Leeds Modernians in the Airedale & Wharfedale Senior Cricket League (see stats from 2015 onwards).

Crystal PalaceEdit

He was transferred to Crystal Palace for a fee of £1 million in 1989, becoming the first goalkeeper to attract a million-pound transfer fee in English football.[3] It was at Crystal Palace that Nigel first gained international recognition with a call up to the full England side. He remained at Palace for seven seasons, appearing 349 times for his club, including the 1990 FA Cup Final (where Palace were beaten by Manchester United in a replay), and the 1991 Zenith Data Systems Cup final (where Palace beat Everton). In 1996, he signed with Leeds United, setting another record fee for a goalkeeper of £2.25m.

In 2005, Palace supporters voted Martyn into their Centenary XI.

Leeds UnitedEdit

Martyn was signed by boss Howard Wilkinson in the summer of 1996/97, along with another high-profile capture in the form of Britain's most expensive teenager, Lee Bowyer. Martyn's form for United, both at home and on the continent in European competition was outstanding – most notably in a man-of-the-match display at the Olympic Stadium v AS Roma in the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup campaign, of which Leeds reached the semi-finals. Martyn was also a huge part of the squad that eliminated illustrious clubs such as FC Barcelona, S.S. Lazio and Deportivo La Coruna in the following season's UEFA Champions League campaign, leading them to the last four.

In total, Martyn played as Leeds' first-choice goalkeeper for six seasons and his consistency was such that years later at a supporters' dinner, the Cornishman was named officially as United's greatest ever goalkeeper, beating off competition from the likes of Gary Sprake and John Lukic – men who both won championship medals at Elland Road.

However, it was a disagreement with new Leeds manager Terry Venables,[4] combined with the increasingly good form of youngster Paul Robinson, that kept him from playing any games in Leeds' 2002–03 season and after a string of unused substitute appearances, Martyn was told he could find new employers.

On 10 April 2006, he was voted as part of Leeds United's greatest team being the only player from after the Revie era to be part of the team.[5] He is still well regarded by the Leeds United fans and was involved in the "Back the Bid Leeds" campaign for Leeds to be one of the host cities in England's World Cup 2018 bid.


In the middle of 2003, Leeds were approached by Chelsea and Everton with offers to sign Martyn. Both clubs were offering the out-of-favour goalkeeper a backup post: at Chelsea, he would understudy Carlo Cudicini; at Everton, the first-choice was Richard Wright. Martyn chose to move to Everton, and six games into the season, an injury to Wright gave him his Everton debut. His performances for the first team during Wright's recovery were such that Martyn remained Everton's first-choice goalkeeper even after Wright returned from injury.

Martyn was one of Everton's best performers in the 2004–05 season when they achieved their best Premier League finish of fourth. Many fans believed that Martyn almost single-handedly stopped them from slipping down the table after Thomas Gravesen's departure.[citation needed] He produced some of the best form of his career, despite being 38 years of age, to the delight of the Everton fans, with whom he remains a favourite. In his final season at Everton he was picking up many injuries and missed the remainder of the season. His final appearance for Everton was his 100th game for the club against Chelsea in an FA Cup tie at Goodison Park which ended 1–1, making numerous excellent saves. It was a fitting end to Martyn's Everton career, and he is considered by many as the club's best goalkeeper since Neville Southall, so much so that he was nicknamed "Big Nige" a play on "Big Nev" which was Southall's nickname.[citation needed]

On 8 June 2006, Martyn announced his retirement from football due to a stress fracture in his ankle that had sidelined him since January and failed to heal properly.[6] David Moyes said that he would miss Martyn as he was his "greatest ever signing".

International careerEdit

Martyn made his debut for the England national side against the Commonwealth of Independent States in Moscow in 1992, becoming one of the few Cornishmen to play for England. He earned 23 caps for his national side, spending the peak of his career as second-choice goalkeeper behind David Seaman.

Martyn replaced the injured Seaman for England's final UEFA Euro 2000 group match against Romania, a 3–2 defeat.[7] He also started in goal for a 2–2 draw with Greece at Old Trafford that qualified England for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.[8] In Sven-Göran Eriksson's first game in charge of England against Spain in February 2001, Martyn came on as a substitute for David James and saved a Javi Moreno penalty in a 3-0 win.[9]

Coaching careerEdit

Martyn spent time as goalkeeping coach at Bradford City,[10] a role he started in March 2007 as a favour for former Leeds United teammate David Wetherall, who was then caretaker manager at Bradford.[11]


  1. ^ a b Jay, Mike; Byrne, Stephen (1994). Pirates in Profile: A Who's Who of Bristol Rovers Players. Bristol: Potten, Baber & Murray. ISBN 0-9524835-0-5.
  2. ^ The Bristol Rovers tea lady discovered Nigel Martyn? from Ian Holloway's column on the BBC website.
  3. ^ Fordyce, Tom (17 September 2002). "Goalkeepers – crazy but crucial". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 January 2009.
  4. ^ Alan Smith, The Alan Smith interview: Life is so sweet for Everton's veteran,, 19 March 2005
  5. ^ "The Greatest Leeds United Team Unveiled". Leeds United F.C. 11 April 2006. Archived from the original on 14 April 2006. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Keeper Martyn forced to quit game". BBC. 8 June 2006. Archived from the original on 29 March 2007. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Late penalty breaks English hearts". BBC. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  8. ^ "England reach World Cup finals". BBC. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Sven's England off to winning start". BBC. 28 February 2001. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  10. ^ Parker, Simon (4 February 2008). "Loach 'star-struck' by Martyn". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  11. ^ Parker, Simon (9 March 2007). "Martyn offers a helping hand". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 23 October 2013.

External linksEdit