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Ex-Sunderland player and winner of the Intercontinental Cup with Manchester United, Danny Higginbotham was born on this day in 1978.

As a boy, it was Danny Higginbotham's childhood dream to one day play for his boyhood club, Manchester United. At just 19 years old, his dream came true, although he would only go on to make seven appearances for the Red Devils. In 1998, after not fully making his breakthrough into the side, he was loaned to Belgian side Royal Antwerp, where he made 29 appearances for the club and really started to make an impact. However he suffered abuse outside the stadium after a playoff defeat, and following an incident, received a four-month ban from football. However, Alex Ferguson believed the innocence of Higginbotham and handed the player a four-year contract at his old club.

Following this return to Manchester, he joined then Premier League club Derby in an attempt to get more game time. In total he spent three years at the club, a solid defender who kept the club in the Premier League until eventually they got relegated at the end of the 2002/03 season. Southampton responded to his transfer request and he spent three whole seasons at the club, making a mighty 94 appearances for the Saints. However following relegation, and controversy over his pay offers in contracts meant that he left the club.

Following a successful season at Stoke, where he won the Player of the Year award, he joined the Black Cats, stating that the opportunity to play Premier League football under Roy Keane was too good to refuse. Higginbotham's first goal on Wearside is rumoured to have gone in off his ear in Sunderland’s 1-1 draw against the Mags in November 2007. He only made 22 appearances for the lads, before once returning once again to Stoke City, for £2.5 million - the same fee for which he moved away from the club in the season prior.

Following 5 years back at Stoke, including two loan spells at Forest and Ipswich, he moved to Sheffield United in the Summer of 2013 where he made 15 appearances for the side. Following more disappointments, and with increasing age, he saw out the rest of his career at Chester and Altrincham.

Despite never quite breaking into the top level of football consistently, he still had a varied career which saw him cap 3 times for his grandmother’s nation of Gibraltar, including playing in their first ever official fixture (a 0-0 draw vs Slovakia). Following his retirement from football in 2014, he has since written an autobiography, has been a column writer and has tried his hand at being a pundit for the likes of Sky Sports. Although from the perspective of a Sunderland fan, he will most definitely be remember for his glorious left ear!

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