FROM making his Premier League debut at Stamford Bridge, to plying his trade in distant footballing destinations across the globe, it’s been one heck of a journey for James Sinclair.
Throw in a leg-breaking set-back, the release from a top-level club, spells off the soccer radar and joining a side which would later be forced to quit league competition, and you’ve got a career that has taken a string of twist and turns.
And all this for a lad from Lesbury who turned 24 just a few months ago.
But now, the former Duchess’s Community High School pupil seems to have found a sea of calm after a period of relative upheaval in an 18-month spell which has taken him from his native north east England to the faraway shores of Israel and Puerto Rico, before arriving in Poland.
And it is here, in eastern Europe, where the one-time Bolton Wanderers player is finding his feet, becoming part of the set-up at Polonia Bytom – who operate in the nation’s second tier – having put pen to paper in a two-year deal in the summer.
Despite being far from home, Sinclair has not been forgotten and he certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Just last month, the boy from north Northumberland who grew up on the county’s grass-roots pitches wearing the black ’n’ white of Alnwick Town, was honoured for his exploits by Les Rosbifs – an online football blog dedicated to tracking and highlighting the efforts of English players and managers who are involved with the game overseas.
Sinclair, who operates as a defender or midfielder for his new club, netted the 2011 Les Rosbifs Nomad of the Year Award, recognising an English player or coach who has moved to another country over the past year, having previously played in a number of nations.
It’s fitting recognition for Sinclair who has certainly racked up the air miles in pursuit of playing the game he loves – a reward made even sweeter by the fact that he fought off some fierce competition in the category, which included former Aston Villa boss John Gregory, who is now in charge of Kazakh club FC Kairat.
Oh, and just one of the judges was one-time England manager Steve McClaren, who also led Dutch side FC Twente to the Eredivisie title in 2009-10.
The accolade has delighted Sinclair, who scored the majority of the votes from the selection panel.
“It is an honour to win the award, especially as there are more English players moving abroad to play their football and it is good that there is still interest in the players from people back home,” he said.
Sinclair’s achievement has been hailed by Kenny Pavey, the 2010 Les Rosbifs Player of the Year, who praised him for his grit and determination to make it in the football world.
“James is a man who has kept his head up and clearly loves his football.
“He deserves the award for being so willing to go anywhere to play,” Pavey told lesrosbifs.net
But while Poland is the latest global footballing destination for well-travelled Sinclair, his career began very much at home.
A promising star, Sinclair grew up playing for Alnwick Town and represented Northumberland Boys, where he set a schools’ record by scoring nine goals in a county U16s match against South Yorkshire.
He added youth academy spells at both Newcastle United and Sunderland to his CV before signing a scholarship with Bolton Wanderers in 2004.
Highs and lows followed during his Trotters stint, from the agony of breaking his leg to the ecstasy of signing his first professional contract and playing in both the Premier League and the Uefa Cup.
But life at the Reebok Stadium came to an end in 2009 when he was released from the club.
There followed a spell for Blue Square Bet Premier side Gateshead in 2010 before being released, prompting him to kick-start his footballing adventures abroad.
Starting off in the Israeli Liga Leumit with Sektzia Nes Tziona, he played a string of matches before moving to play for Sevilla FC Puerto Rico, in the newly-created USL Pro league.
This came to an end though when the club was forced to quit the league, but after a few months off the radar, he made his return to the professional game by signing for Polonia Bytom.
And it’s going well so far.
“I’m enjoying life in Poland and am getting games under my belt and playing well which I’m pleased with,” he said. “I just have to carry on playing well for the remainder of the season and see what possibilities come up. Perhaps with this award it could open up more doors for me.”