England international James Ward-Prowse has come a long way since his Premier League debut for his boyhood club Southampton in the 2012-13 season opener.
The Saints captain is now a firmly established player in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team at St. Mary’s and is in the reckoning to earn a spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the 2022 World Cup.
He’s been tipped in recent campaigns for a move to one of the Premier League’s big-hitters, but he’s so far remained loyal to the side where he made his Premier League debut in a 3-2 defeat away to Manchester City in August 2012.
“What a great debut for James Ward-Prowse,” his manager Nigel Atkins said after his English top-flight bow. “I think everyone at the academy should be so proud that, at 17, young James made his debut. His mentality is top drawer.”
Ward-Prowse’s career has continued on an upward trajectory ever since. We’ve taken a closer look at the players who featured alongside the midfielder at the Etihad on that afternoon to see what they’re up to now.
GK: Kelvin Davis
Davis is now a first-team assistant coach in Hasenhuttl’s backroom team after he appeared more than 300 times for the club following his arrival from Sunderland in July 2006.
The three-time capped England U21 international helped Saints rise from League One to the Premier League and wrapped up his 10-season stay with a testimonial in May 2016 before retiring.
RB: Nathaniel Clyne
Clyne started his career at Crystal Palace – he’s back there now – but he rose to prominence after joining Southampton from Selhurst Park in 2012.
In a fruitful three years at Saints, the full-back broke into the England senior set-up before catching the attention of Liverpool who signed him in 2015 with Brendan Rodgers at the helm.
Jurgen Klopp favoured an emerging Trent Alexander-Arnold ahead of Clyne from 2017 onwards which resulted in the defender re-joining Palace on a permanent deal following his release from the Reds in 2020.
P U R E
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) September 23, 2021
CB: Jose Fonte
The 38-year-old Portugal international played for French champions Lille in the Champions League in 2021-22, but he was also a star for Southampton in the Premier League once upon a time.
Fonte, who won Euro 2016 with his country, signed for Saints from Palace in 2010 and played for seven seasons in which time he clocked up 286 appearances across all competitions.
“They [Southampton] released a transfer request which I did not send,” Fonte said on his Saints departure in 2017. “When they did that, they left me with no alternative and told me that I had to leave.
“What I was asking for (in contract) wouldn’t have even put me in the top three earners at the club. I wasn’t asking for the world – I was just asking what I thought was fair for me.”
The defender left for West Ham United before a spell with Chinese side Dalian Professional ahead of his switch to France in 2018.
CB: Jos Hooiveld
The Dutch centre-back wasn’t a fan-favourite in the same way his defensive partner on that day at the Etihad was.
Atkins signed Hooiveld on a permanent deal from Celtic in 2011 after he had initially impressed on loan at St. Mary’s.
But the left-footer only managed 53 appearances in a four-year stay where he was shipped on loan to Norwich City and Millwall for regular first-team minutes.
He retired in 2018 following a brief spell in the United States with California-based Orange County. The 38-year-old is yet to return to the game in any capacity.
LB: Danny Fox
The Everton academy graduate joined Southampton in the Championship from Burnley in 2011 and helped the club gain promotion to the top tier.
The appearance against Roberto Mancini’s City was one of 20 Premier League outings Fox managed for the Saints in their first season back in the Premier League.
He left the South Coast team for Nottingham Forest permanently in 2014 and recently ended a stint playing in India under the stewardship of Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler at East Bengal.
“I’d never been to India and it’s an amazing culture to see,” Fox said on his time abroad which ended in 2021. “It’s non-stop, 24/7. You’ll see little barber’s stalls at the side of the road and unless you experience it, it’s hard to explain.”
The 35-year-old is a free agent at the moment.
RM: Jason Puncheon
Puncheon was pivotal in the Southampton side that secured back-to-back promotions to reach the Premier League after signing from Plymouth Argyle in readiness for the 2009-10 season.
Despite his on-field success at the club, he’s best remembered for a comical moment when he left the pitch for an urgent toilet break in a league match with Everton in January 2013.
Puncheon has played in the Cypriot first division with Pafos since 2019. At 35, a one-time talented winger is very much in the twilight of his career.
Throwback to the hilarious Jason Puncheon chant
He went for a shit,
he went for a shiiiiiiiit… pic.twitter.com/MieSrqp4Xc
— Football Chants (@FootyFansChants) February 25, 2018
CM: Adam Lallana
The Brighton midfielder was at the peak of his powers captaining Southampton at the time when Ward-Prowse made his Premier League debut.
But after spending many years with the Saints, Liverpool acquired his services for £25million in 2014. Only injuries have robbed the England international of a stellar career.
CDM: Morgan Schneiderlin
Just as quickly as Morgan Schneiderlin joined Manchester United in 2015, he left just 18 months after.
He was part of a weird forway of signings, caught between Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, who had no interest in keeping him around.
Schneiderlin’s now at Nice, after switching United for another poorly run club in the form of Everton.
CM: James Ward-Prowse
If you give away a free kick in a dangerous position against Southampton, you might as well go home.
JWP is scoring it.
James Ward-Prowse is an absolute problem from set pieces 🔥
It's another picture perfect free-kick from the Southampton man 😍 pic.twitter.com/7vDPHArtvS
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 15, 2021
LM: Jay Rodriguez
Rodriguez spent five years on the south coast but is now back at his boyhood club Burnley.
He might be the most exotic individual ever to come from the Lancashire town, eligible to play for both England and Spain due to his Spanish father.
Yet he opted to play for England and even got a cap in 2013, which he probably celebrated with a lukewarm Carling.
If he does speak Spanish, we’d like to hear it in a Burnley accent.
Guly was an inconsistent, effervescent sort-of genius for Saints.
He played over 100 games for them, across both League One, the Championship and the Premier League, scoring 23 goals. He retired in 2020 after a stint that saw him play for six Brazilian teams in three years.
A proper cult hero, he even scored cult hero goals like this one. Craque.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) January 8, 2019