|Peter Clarke - Central Defender|
Those who watched Everton reserves long considered Peter Clarke to be one of the Club's most promising prospects from the Everton youth system. A graduate of the FA's National School of Excellence at Lilleshall, Peter joined Everton as a 16-year-old in September 1998.
Having captained England at U-16 level and helped the England U-16s reach the Quarter Finals of the European U-16 Championship, Clarke went on to captain his country at U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels.
He was a key player in Everton's Youth Cup team that went all the way to the semi-final stage in 1999. His progress through the junior teams was rapid too: playing in the Under-17s, Under-19s, and Reserves in his first season.
In the 1999-2000 season, he performed well for both the Under-19s and the Reserves/Under-21s, that he earned a promotion to the first team squad but he didn't make his first senior appearance until the following season when he came on as a substitute against Coventry City in a 3-1 win.
With Everton's continuing injury nightmare in 2001-02, coupled with the departure of Abel Xavier in January 2002, Walter Smith gave Peter the chance to make his full debut in a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa, a game in which he earned rave reviews for a solid performance.
Tipped for big things, Clarkey was thought to have done enough to become a regular in the Everton first team squad but he failed to meet the higher standards required by new manager David Moyes, and the next stage of his development was a loan spell at Second Division Blackpool, where he scored two goals on his home debut.
Clarke's only senior game under Moyes in the 2002-03 season was the ill-fated FA Cup tie at Shrewsbury. That was followed later by another three months at Port Vale but he was recalled as cover for David Weir, who was suspended for the last two games of David Moyes's excellent first full season in charge at Goodison Park.
Clarke's future with Everton was short: he is considered by Moyes to be too small for a centre half; not quick enough or a good enough footballer for a full back. After coming on as a sub in a League Cup tie against Stockport, he got just one more chance under Moyes, and he fluffed it, getting the blame for the goals scored by Blackburn in an embarrassing home defeat. He went out on loan again in January 2004, this time to Coventry City. But a red card against Cardiff in his third game saw him earn a four-match ban (his second red card of the season) and his loan was cut short.
Back at Everton, he was not called upon, despite major injuries to Moyes's struggling and rebellious squad at the end of the dismal 2003-04 season. He was eventually offered a one-year contract but turned that down — another player unimpressed by Moyes as a manager?
Despite his unrest, there was a distinct lack of interest in him from other clubs, such that he entered Everton's 2004-05 squad on a week-to-week contract... until Blackpool finally negotiated a another loan deal in September 2004 with a view to securing a permanent move.
So Peter Clarke has played his last game for his childhood club, with further news that a £150k development fee had been agreed for him to make the move permanent.
Update: In August 2006, Peter Clarke left Blackpool to join Southend.