Thursday, March 31, 2011

Forgotten Scotland Players: Peter Canero

Forgotten Scotland Players: Peter Canero
Confirmation of Scotland's friendly with Denmark had me flicking through the record books to jog the memory about our less than stellar recent performances against the marauding Danes.

We lost 1-0 to Denmark twice during Scotland's Berti Vogts experiment.

The second of those games, a clash in Copenhagen in 2004, gives us the second of The Scottish Football Blog's forgotten Scotland players.

Gary Holt, then of Norwich City, started in midfield, winning the fourth of his ten caps.

But Holt's game came to a premature end after only 16 minutes. Injured, he was replace by today's hero.

On 24 April 2004, Peter Canero came off the bench to make his Scotland debut.

Aged 23, and just a couple of months after leaving Kilmarnock for Leicester City, Canero must have felt this was the start of something big.

But football's a fickle mistress. Those 76 minutes in the Parken Stadium were to be the beginning and the end of Canero's international career.

Making his Kilmarnock debut in 1999, Canero quickly established himself as a regular at Rugby Park and in the Scotland under-21 side.

He would eventually make over 150 appearance for Kilmarnock and get a taste of European football in 2001-02.

By the end of 2003 Kilmarnock were offering a much in demand Canero a 60 percent pay rise to try and persuade him to stay in Ayrshire.

But when Leicester, then in the English Premiership (as was), came calling Canero was lured south.

In the way of such things, his transfer left a bitter taste for some with Kilmarnock settling for £250,000 and blaming the cut-price deal on the malignant influence of the player's agent.

Micky Adams, then manager of Leicester, saw the winger as a signing for the future but it took only three months for Berti Vogts, who collected Scotland players like your spinster great-aunt might collect thimbles, pitched him as a first half sub in that friendly against Denmark.

And then disaster struck.

Injury curtailed not only the rest of his 2003-04 season but the rest of his Leicester career.

By July 2005, when his contract was terminated by mutual consent, Canero had made just seven Premiership and six Championship appearances.

From Leicester he briefly headed back north, spending a couple of months at Dundee United where eleven league games produced two goals.

At the start of 2006 Canero's career took another twist when the colourful managerial pairing of Alexi Lalas and Maurice Johnston took him to New York with Metrostars.

At the time of his signing Lalas had this to say:

"His signing represents a significant upgrade to our flank play, something that is a priority for 2006."

Mo Jo added:

"Peter has a great willingness to win and work hard for his team for 90 minutes."

It was a willingness that the fans rarely saw.

By October 2006, a Metrostar blog had this to say:

"Then, the preseason came, and we started hearing rumbles that Canero was just not that good. And when Metro lined up for their first match in DC, the supposed versatile winger could not win a spot. Amazingly, the three positions he was supposed to be able to play were taken by players with little or no pro experience at those; Seth Stammler at right midfield, Carlos Mendes at left back, and Jeff Parke at right back.

"His appearances off the bench in the first two matches were indifferent at best, and Peter was invisible in his lone start at Salt Lake. Since then, a few late-game appearances, Mo's firing, a long-term injury, six games for the reserves, and finally, his first first-team time in months last weekend, seven minutes as Metro needed cover for the ejected Marvell Wynne. All that for $142,996 a year." (Metro Fanatic)

Unsurprisingly, after just nine appearance, his contract was not renewed for the next season.

And that proved the end.

Canero's injuries seem to have forced him into a low key retirement when still in his mid-twenties. Certainly he was blighted by problems at both Leicester and in the MLS.

Sadly he was destined to join that always worryingly large group of Scottish players who, for one reason or another, don't ever quite graduate from promising youngster to successful career.

The internet throws up sightings of his name on Leicester City forum discussions of "crappest ever player" and "worst ever signing."

That's a shame. It was injury rather than a lack of talent or a distaste for hard work that knackered him in the end.

But, small consolation as it might be, he'll always have that Scotland cap.

Forgotten Scotland Players Number 2: Peter Canero, Leicester City, 1 Cap