Join us as we take a closer look at LV BET’s newest brand ambassador for the UK and Ireland, Jason McAteer.
Professional debut with Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers offered Jason McAteer his first professional football contract at the age of 20. After an impressive display for Marine Reserves against his future employers, the Bolton hierarchy offered the non-league side £500 – plus a large bag of footballs – to purchase the services of the upcoming midfielder.
McAteer’s professional debut came in a one-sided Division Two fixture for Bolton Wanderers against Burnley on 28 November 1992 in Burnden Park. A 4-0 victory that day against the Clarets ensured that his introduction to professional football would be forever remembered as a positive one, with the midfield talent going on to make 20 more appearances throughout the season.
Wembley and promotion
Jason McAteer’s third season of professional football would prove to be his most memorable one donning the traditional white Bolton jersey.
Now established in the side, McAteer played an instrumental role during Bolton’s League Cup semi-final fixtures against Swindon Town. After losing the first leg 2-1 and going a goal down in the second, McAteer found himself in the perfect position to get his side back on track after a shot from Alan Thompson hit the post and fell to his feet in front of goal. Subsequent goals from Paatelainen and McGinlay proved to be enough for the Trotters, with Bolton clinching a spot for the 1994–95 Football League Cup final.
Although eventually losing out to Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley, Jason McAteer played his part in the final by creating one of the game’s best opportunities. A first-half inch-perfect lofted pass over the defence helped put David Lee in on goal and past Liverpool keeper David James; however, the midfielder was unable to convert the chance, with his shot going just wide.
Wembley disappointment would soon translate into emphatic celebrations for the young Irishman when only a month later his side would revisit the famous stadium by reaching the final of the Division One play-offs.
The play-off final that year against Reading would be remembered as an epic clash, with Bolton going 2-0 down before leaving it late until the 86th minute to equalise. With both teams keen to avoid a penalty shoot-out, players threw their defensive responsibilities to the wind as three goals rocked Wembley Stadium in extra time.
Bolton went on to win the match 4–3 and secure promotion into the Premiership.
After his impressive performance against them in the 1994–95 Football League Cup final, Liverpool were happy to splash £4.5 million on the fizzling box-to-box midfielder. Joining the team he supported as a child, McAteer would make 136 appearances for the Reds, scoring six times over a four year period.
Like with his previous side, McAteer’s debut with Liverpool was another convincing win, a 3-0 victory against Blackburn Rovers at Anfield on 16 September 1995. Throughout his time playing at Anfield, Jason McAteer would enhance his reputation as a utility player. The Irishman enjoyed spells filling in in the right-back position when he wasn’t busy in midfield.
His time at Liverpool also saw a return to Wembley Stadium with the 1996 FA Cup Final. Unfortunately, this time around, McAteer wouldn’t end up celebrating for a second time in the famous stadium, with Manchester United’s Eric Cantona sealing a famous 1-0 victory for his side.
Blackburn Rovers & Sunderland
McAteer signed for Blackburn Rovers on 27 January 1999. Despite his new side being unable to avoid the relegation scythe that season, McAteer went on to play a vital role in the club’s promotion back into top-flight football in 2001 during his second full season with Blackburn.
The very next season, Jason McAteer moved on to Sunderland for a fee of £1 million in October 2001. In 53 League apps with the Black Cats, McAteer was able to find the back of the net five times and even took part in Sunderland’s play-off semi-final battle against Crystal Palace in May 2004.
McAteer joined Tranmere Rovers for the twilight of his career, hoping to play out his remaining years with his hometown club. McAteer was made club captain by manager Brian Little and even skippered his side into the League One play-off semi-finals.
Between 1994 and 2004 Jason McAteer represented the Republic of Ireland a total of 52 times. His debut came about in 1994 during a 0-0 draw against Russia in a friendly match at Lansdowne Road.
Selected by manager Jack Charlton, McAteer joined the ranks of the Republic of Ireland’s 1994 World Cup squad, first coming onto the pitch as a substitute during Ireland’s famous 1–0 World Cup victory over Italy on 18 June.
McAteer was a crucial cog in the Republic of Ireland’s 2002 World Cup squad, scoring a decisive goal for the Irish side in a vital 1-0 qualifying victory against the Netherlands on 1 September 2001.