‘Ledge’ could have been PNE legend

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Sean St Ledger’s career since leaving Deepdale has baffled many Preston North End supporters.

The centre-half is rightfully considered as one of North End’s best players of recent times.

After joining from this weekend’s opponents Peterborough United in the summer of 2006 – signed by Paul Simpson for an initial fee of £225,000 – St Ledger became a mainstay of Preston’s defence for the next five years.

In total, he made 200 appearances,became a Republic of Ireland regular and was tipped to play at the highest level.

He scored the winning goal against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2008/09 season, which secured Preston’s place in the end-of-season play-offs.

Unfortunately, they would go on to lose the subsequent two-legged semi-final against Sheffield United but St Ledger’s stock was still on the rise.

The following season he joined Middlesbrough on loan with a view to a big-money, permanent transfer the following January.

At the time, he continued to be picked by his national manager Giovanni Trapattoni and was in the Irish team which came within a whisker of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

St Ledger had a perfect view of Thierry Henry’s controversial handball, which went unpunished and led to France’s winning goal during the World Cup 
play-off decider in Paris.

He played 15 times for Middlesbrough while on loan but after Gareth Southgate’s sacking as Boro boss, the defender fell out of favour with new manager Gordon Strachan.

He returned to the North West after his three-month loan stint elapsed and resumed his career at Deepdale.

But his final season for the Lilywhites was blighted by injury and he could do nothing to prevent the club from being relegated to League One.

Unwilling to drop down a division, St Ledger was transferred to Leicester City in July, 2011, for an undisclosed sum.

His first year for the Foxes saw him make 32 appearances and he figured in all three of the Republic of Ireland’s games during Euro 2012 held in Poland and Ukraine.

Since then, St Ledger’s career has taken a severe nose dive due to a succession of injuries and loss of form.

In the last one-and-a-half seasons, he has made just three appearances in the professional game and his name has almost become forgotten.

Still only 29-years-old, 
St Ledger had been searching for a new club since his release from Leicester during the summer.

After various trial spells at a number of different clubs, Championship high-flyers Ipswich Town eventually offered the defender a 
short-term deal at the end of last month.

He is eager to make the most of this opportunity and still harbours dreams of returning to the Irish squad in the near future.

“The hardest part was not having a club from July and me being fit and me knowing that I’m fit but everybody outside of football thinking I was still injured,” St Ledger said.

“People would ask me if I was fit and I would say yeah but nobody would take a chance on me.”

St Ledger began his career at Peterborough, where he progressed from the club’s youth set-up to become a full-time pro.

He famously shot to stardom during the Sky TV documentary series ‘Big Ron Manager’.

The show was based on former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson acting as a troubleshooter at London Road, helping 
rookie manager Steve Bleasdale.

St Ledger was filmed clashing with ‘Bleo’ on several occasions.