Bowyer playing for Birmingham City in 2010
|Full name||Lee David Bowyer|
|Date of birth||3 January 1977|
|Place of birth||Canning Town, London, England|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Birmingham City (head coach)|
|2003||West Ham United||10||(0)|
|2006–2009||West Ham United||41||(4)|
|2009||→ Birmingham City (loan)||17||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
As a player, he was a midfielder who featured for Charlton Athletic, Leeds United, West Ham United (two spells), Newcastle United, Birmingham City and Ipswich Town in over 18 years as a professional. He made 397 appearances in the Premier League, took part in semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League with Leeds and won the Football League Cup with Birmingham in 2011. Bowyer was capped once by the England national team. His career was punctuated by various incidents both on and off the field.
Bowyer was manager of Charlton Athletic for 3 years, before he left to become the Birmingham City manager in 2021.
Born in Canning Town, London, Bowyer played for youth team Senrab before joining Charlton Athletic as a schoolboy. He turned professional in April 1994. He first drew attention in 1995, when he and teammate Dean Chandler failed a drugs test for cannabis use. Bowyer was dropped from the England under-18 squad and suspended for eight weeks while he took part in a rehabilitation course organised by the Football Association (the FA). He went on to become a first-team regular, making 58 appearances for Charlton and scoring 14 goals. A particular highlight was Bowyer's hat-trick in a memorable 5–4 victory over Wimbledon FC in a League Cup second round first leg tie in September 1995.
In 1996, he was signed by Leeds United manager Howard Wilkinson for £2.8 million, which was a record for a British teenager. Later the same year, Bowyer was convicted of affray and fined £4,500 following an incident in a McDonald's restaurant in London in which CCTV footage showed Bowyer throwing chairs and racially abusing a staff member of Asian origin.
Initially, Bowyer was kept out of the Leeds first team by Alf-Inge Håland and David Hopkin; he eventually replaced Hopkin in the 1998–99 season, and from then on was a first-team regular. He was a key player in David O'Leary's Leeds side that qualified for the Champions League in 1999–2000, and which reached the semi finals of the UEFA Cup in 2000 and the Champions League in 2001. In the Champions League run he scored crucial goals against A.C. Milan, Barcelona and Anderlecht. He was voted the Leeds player of the year by supporters in both 1998–99 and 2000–01.
Following an incident near a Leeds nightclub in January 2000, in which an Asian student suffered severe injuries, Bowyer and teammate Jonathan Woodgate were charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent and affray. An initial trial collapsed in April 2001 after an article in a Sunday newspaper, and following a second trial, which ended in December 2001, Bowyer was cleared of both charges while Woodgate was convicted of affray and sentenced to community service. Bowyer was generally recognised as playing some of the finest football of his career during this period and would often go straight from court to play for Leeds. In 2005, the player agreed a £170,000 out-of-court settlement of a civil action for damages brought by the victim and his brother, who had been less seriously hurt in the assault.
After Bowyer's acquittal, Leeds fined him four weeks' wages for a breach of the club's code of conduct. Despite having had the backing of the club during the trial and the club paying his extensive legal fees, Bowyer took exception to the fine and was placed on the transfer list. The dispute was later settled and Bowyer removed from the transfer list, though he returned to it at the end of the season after turning down a new five-year contract. A £9 million fee was agreed for a move to Liverpool, which fell through with manager Gérard Houllier not convinced the player had the "hunger or desire" to play for the club. In January 2003, Bowyer signed for West Ham United. He had made 265 appearances for Leeds in all competitions, scoring 55 goals.
West Ham United
Bowyer signed for West Ham United on an initial six-month contract for a nominal transfer fee, which meant that should West Ham be relegated at the end of the 2002–03 season, the club would not be burdened with a large Premiership salary. The transfer was not popular with a section of West Ham supporters who questioned Bowyer's attitude towards racism. A protest against his signing was held outside Upton Park before Bowyer's introduction to the crowd. Claims that Bowyer would have received a £1 million bonus had West Ham stayed up were denied by the club's then manager Glenn Roeder. In the event, Bowyer was hampered by ankle injuries and made only eleven appearances for West Ham. West Ham were relegated and Bowyer was not offered another contract.
In April 2005, Bowyer was in the media spotlight again after an on-pitch brawl with teammate Kieron Dyer in Newcastle United's Premier League match with Aston Villa. This resulted in a red card, plus an automatic three-game ban, for each player. The Football Association fined Bowyer £30,000 and imposed an additional three-game ban, and the club fined him six weeks' wages; Dyer was not fined as Bowyer was perceived to have thrown the first punch. In addition, Bowyer was charged by Northumbria Police in connection with the brawl with offences under section four of the Public Order Act. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of using threatening behaviour and was fined £600 and ordered to pay £1000 costs.
Return to West Ham United
Bowyer rejoined West Ham United, the club he supported as a boy, in June 2006 for an undisclosed fee, declaring that he had "unfinished business" with the club. He made 22 appearances in the 2006–07 season, which was disrupted by a dislocated shoulder suffered in West Ham United's 6–0 loss to Reading in January 2007. However, Bowyer made a quick and sooner-than-expected recovery and played in five of West Ham's crucial games towards the end of the season.
He regained a regular place in the Hammers first team at the beginning of the 2007–08 season, scoring his first goals for West Ham against Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough, and then two more in the 5–0 victory over Derby County.
In January 2009, Bowyer signed for Birmingham City on loan until the end of the 2008–09 season. He made his debut on 17 January at home to Cardiff City in the Championship, scoring an equalising goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time to make the score 1–1. Following the expiry of his contract with West Ham United, Bowyer signed a two-year contract with Birmingham in July 2009. He scored winning goals in consecutive Premier League matches, against Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers, to take Birmingham into a mid-table position at the end of November, and was part of the team that went on a run of 15 games unbeaten in all competitions, including a club record 12 unbeaten in the top flight, as they finished in ninth place, the club's best for more than 50 years.
In September 2010 Bowyer was forced to apologise for verbally abusing a West Bromwich Albion supporter. The incident occurred following Bowyer's substitution after he had committed a rash challenge on Gabriel Tamaș. In the absence through injury of Craig Gardner, Bowyer returned to the starting eleven for the match against champions Chelsea in November 2010, and scored the only goal of the game to give his team a surprise victory, and then followed that up with a late equaliser against Manchester United. In January 2011, television replays highlighted incidents, unnoticed by the match referee, in which Bowyer stamped on Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna and appeared to rake his studs down the same player's Achilles. Suggestions in the media that Bowyer could receive a six-match ban prompted Birmingham manager Alex McLeish to argue that the football authorities were not treating all clubs equally when using television evidence. Bowyer received the standard three-match ban for violent conduct.
From 2010, Bowyer held the record for most yellow cards received in the Premier League; by the end of that year, he had 98 yellow cards in the competition as well as five red.
He made his first appearance in a major final in February 2011, in the starting eleven as Birmingham defeated favourites Arsenal 2–1 in the League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium. At that time, it was reported that he was not to be offered a contract extension, in May, McLeish indicated an offer would be made, but after Birmingham's relegation to the Championship, Bowyer left the club when his contract expired at the end of the 2010–11 season.
Ipswich Town and retirement
On 10 July 2011, Bowyer joined Ipswich Town on a free transfer. He signed a one-year contract. He scored his first goal for Ipswich with a late winner against former club West Ham United on 27 September. He was released at the end of the 2011–12 season, having scored twice in 29 appearances, after which Bowyer retired from playing.
During his early career at Leeds, Bowyer played for the England under-21 team, making 13 appearances for the national side.
Bowyer's form during the 2000–01 season led to calls for inclusion in the England squad; however, the Football Association ruled that he could not be selected until the court case in relation to an assault on an Asian student was completed. The FA eventually cleared Bowyer for selection following the conclusion of the court case and England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson called him into the squad for an international friendly against Portugal in September 2002. Bowyer made his England debut in the game, setting up a goal for Leeds teammate Alan Smith. It was his only appearance for England.
In the autumn of 2015, Bowyer spent a month as a guest coach of Watford's under-21 team, working under former Leeds teammate Harry Kewell. After coaching at his first professional club Charlton Athletic, Bowyer was appointed as their assistant manager under Karl Robinson on 1 July 2017.
On 22 March 2018, Bowyer was named caretaker manager of Charlton Athletic after former manager Karl Robinson left by mutual consent. His managerial career began with a 2–0 win two days later against Plymouth Argyle After winning his first three games, in April he was given the role until the end of the season. His spell in charge ended on 13 May after Charlton were beaten 2–0 on aggregate by Shrewsbury Town in the League One play-off semi final. On 14 June, Bowyer was renamed caretaker manager until further notice, and on 6 September, his role was made permanent on a contract lasting until the end of the season.
In Bowyer's first full season at the club, he guided the side to a third-placed finish in League One, and they faced Doncaster Rovers in the play-offs over two legs. Charlton won the away leg 2–1, courtesy of goals from Joe Aribo and Lyle Taylor. Doncaster's 88th-minute goal meant the second leg finished 3–3 in normal time. Both teams scored in extra time, resulting in a 4–4 aggregate score, and Charlton won the penalty shootout 4–3. They earned promotion to the Championship by beating Sunderland 2–1 in the play-off final at Wembley Stadium, returning to the second tier of English football after a three-season absence.
On 17 June 2019, Bowyer turned down the offer of a contract extension, with the club (and owner Roland Duchatelet) announcing that Bowyer and the club were unable to reach an agreement. However, he later reversed his decision by signing a new year-long deal. In October, he received a three-match touchline ban for "improper conduct and/or questioning the integrity of a match official". Following the club's takeover by East Street Investments, Bowyer signed a new three-year deal on 22 January 2020. Charlton were relegated on the final day of the 2019–2020 season following a 4–0 defeat at his former club, Leeds United.
On 16 March 2021, Bowyer replaced Aitor Karanka as head coach of Birmingham City; he signed a two-and-a-half-year contract.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Charlton Athletic||1994–95||First Division||5||0||0||0||1||0||—||6||0|
|Leeds United||1996–97||Premier League||32||4||4||2||0||0||—||36||6|
|West Ham United||2002–03||Premier League||10||0||1||0||—||—||11||0|
|Newcastle United||2003–04||Premier League||24||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||25||2|
|West Ham United||2006–07||Premier League||20||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||22||0|
|Birmingham City (loan)||2008–09||Championship||17||1||—||—||—||17||1|
|Birmingham City||2009–10||Premier League||35||5||5||0||2||1||—||42||6|
|Charlton Athletic||22 March 2018||15 March 2021||157||64||37||56||40.8|
|Birmingham City||16 March 2021||Present||10||5||2||3||50.0|
- EFL League One Manager of the Month: November 2018, April 2019
- Some media sources reported that the booking received on 5 March 2011 made him the first player to reach 100 yellow cards in the Premier League, although the Premier League recorded it as his 99th. As clarified by ESPNsoccernet statistician Norman Hubbard, although Bowyer had been shown 100 yellow cards, official statistics "do not count games in which two bookings led to a sending-off", so by standard definitions, he had only 99 that counted as yellow cards. As of August 2014[update], no player has reached 100 Premier League yellow cards.
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The Leeds player must have a hide as thick as a hound's to have produced the best football of his career in between visits to Hull Crown Court
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The lad was under intense pressure, but he never allowed it to affect his football. In fact, he played some of the best football of his career when the heat was really on.
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Bowyer's time on Tyneside has rarely seen him reach the heights he attained during the peak of his spell at his previous club, Leeds, where he helped David O'Leary's side reach the semi finals of the Champions' League with the best football of his career despite his well-documented off-the-field troubles.
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In 2000/2001, when at Leeds United, Bowyer produced some of the best football of his career while on trial during an assault case and won the club's player of the year award.
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