Relegation is the ultimate low for any footballer – yet, for many operating just beneath the elite level, it's a possibility they have to face at some point almost every season.
And while many players never experience the heartache, others suffer it more than once. Only two, though, have been relegated from the Premier League on five separate occasions: Nathan Blake and Hermann Hreidarsson.
The latter achieved the feat with Crystal Palace (1998/99), Wimbledon (99/00) Ipswich (02/03), Charlton (06/07) and Portsmouth (11/12). And while the Icelandic defender remains a fan favourite at pretty much every club he represented – his towering performances were seldom to blame for his teams' demotions – he admits it's a record he isn't proud of.
"It's the worst thing in the world to be relegated," Hreidarsson tells the Players Lounge section of FourFourTwo – you can order the latest issue here. "Let’s just say I didn’t have many good summer holidays as a professional footballer!
"They were all very different scenarios. At Palace I wasn’t a star player but had just come into the team when we went down. On a personal note, I actually played well for Ipswich but we had such a small squad and European football to juggle. At Wimbledon, we had a lot of injuries, and so on. If you play for many years in the Premier League and you're not at one of the top seven clubs, the chances are you might get relegated at some point. It just happened a lot to me!"
Footballers love collecting records almost as much as they love bagging trophies Hreidarsson also has an FA Cup to his name – but the big man chuckles when FFT asks him if he secretly wished he had this record outright.
"[Laughs] Of course not, no! If you actually look at the ratio of seasons to relegations, I’m nowhere near the worst. I think there's a lot of players who played only four seasons in the Premier League and went down three times. So, I’m not the winner really."
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Ed McCambridge is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working for the magazine and website. Ed has been living in Berlin since 2015 and worked as a Bundesliga reporter before joining FFT. Formerly a season ticket holder at AFC Wimbledon, he's now most commonly spotted at local side Union Berlin.
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