Whittingham playing for Cardiff City in 2016
|Full name||Peter Michael Whittingham|
|Date of birth||8 September 1984|
|Place of birth||Nuneaton, England|
|Date of death||19 March 2020(aged 35)|
|Place of death||Cardiff, Wales|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|2005||→ Burnley (loan)||7||(0)|
|2005||→ Derby County (loan)||11||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Peter Michael Whittingham (//; 8 September 1984 – 19 March 2020) was an English professional footballer. His primary position was as a central midfielder, although he operated as a winger on both the left and right, as well as a second-striker.
He was part of the Aston Villa team that won the 2001–02 FA Youth Cup, and a year later he made his Premier League debut. Whittingham had loans at Championship clubs Burnley and Derby County in 2005. In January 2007, he signed for Cardiff City for a fee of £350,000.
In eleven seasons at Cardiff, Whittingham played 457 competitive matches and scored 96 goals, putting him seventh on the all-time appearances list and ninth among their goalscorers. During his time at that club they won the Championship in 2013, and reached the 2008 FA Cup Final and 2012 League Cup Final. He was named three times in the Championship's PFA Team of the Year, and his 20-goal haul in the 2009–10 season made him the division's top scorer. He signed for Blackburn Rovers in June 2017, and made 24 appearances for the club before his contract was terminated by mutual consent in August 2018.
Whittingham was part of Aston Villa's FA Youth Cup-winning team of 2002. He made his first team debut on 21 April 2003 against Newcastle United, as a half-time substitution for Gareth Barry in a 1–1 away draw. He went on to make 32 appearances in his first full season at the club, season 2003–04, scoring his first goal against Wycombe Wanderers in the League Cup third round on 23 September 2003, a 5–0 win at Adams Park. In November that year, he signed a contract that would have lasted until 2007. He scored his only league goal for Villa on 6 November 2004, opening a 3–0 win over Portsmouth at Villa Park.
On 14 February 2005, Whittingham signed for Championship club Burnley on a one-month loan. Manager Steve Cotterill said it was to help with their situation of only having two central midfielders at the club, and hoped that he would do as well as Gary Cahill, another young player they had taken on loan from Villa. He returned to the Championship on 15 September, joining Derby County on a three-month loan.
On 11 January 2007, after making just four appearances for Villa since the start of the season, Whittingham, who had become surplus to requirements at Villa Park and was out of contract in the summer, was transferred to Cardiff City for a reported fee of £350,000. He quickly established himself in the team and was a first-team member until the end of the year, despite competition from Joe Ledley on the left-hand side.
Whittingham began the 2007–08 season on the bench. By mid-November Cardiff found themselves just above the relegation zone; this prompted a minor reshuffle from boss Dave Jones that involved Chris Gunter and Whittingham returning to the starting line-up. Whittingham's recall saw him moved to an unfamiliar role on the right side of midfield, but he soon settled into the role and started the majority of the remaining matches of the season, as well as being the team's top scorer (with three goals) during their FA Cup run. That run saw him score in matches against Chasetown, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Middlesbrough, before Cardiff eventually lost 1–0 to Portsmouth in the final.
The start of the 2008–09 season saw Whittingham continue playing on the right side of midfield, scoring his first goal of the season on 26 August in a 2–1 victory over Milton Keynes Dons in the League Cup. He ruptured ankle ligaments during a 2–1 win over Crystal Palace on 15 November, which was expected to keep him out for up to three months. However, he returned to the team ahead of schedule, coming on as a late substitute during a 1–1 draw with Reading on 26 December.
In the first match of the 2009–10 season, Whittingham converted a penalty during a 4–0 win over Scunthorpe United in the first ever competitive match at the Cardiff City Stadium and scored in consecutive rounds of the League Cup in wins over Dagenham & Redbridge and Bristol Rovers. Having been appointed the first-choice penalty taker for the club, he took his league goal tally to three with goals in consecutive matches in a 3–1 defeat to against Sheffield Wednesday followed by a 6–1 win over Derby County. He continued his scoring form with a brace against Watford and goals against Crystal Palace and Coventry City followed by a hat-trick against Sheffield United. Whittingham earned the October Player of the Month award on 14 November 2009. On 24 April, he scored a free-kick during a 3–2 win over Sheffield Wednesday, and the following day was named in the 2009–10 PFA Team of the Year for the Championship.
Following the loan arrival of Craig Bellamy, Whittingham started the 2010–11 season in a new central midfield role. His performances were praised by manager Dave Jones. After scoring eight penalties in the previous campaign, Whittingham saw his first two penalties saved in this campaign, causing Jones to announce that Whittingham had been taken off penalty duty. However, he did take and score Cardiff's next penalty against Coventry City in a 2–1 win which added to his first two goals of the season scored from a brace of free kicks scored against Bristol City three days previously. Whittingham scored a fantastic volley against Barnsley on 13 March, which ended up being voted Football League Goal of the Year award for 2011. At the end of the season, Cardiff failed to gain promotion for a second year running and Whittingham was heavily linked with a move away from Cardiff City Stadium, being linked with newly promoted Norwich City and Portsmouth.
Despite the links with a move away from the Welsh capital, new Cardiff boss, Malky Mackay insisted that Whittingham was central to his plans. Whittingham started the first match against West Ham United, and scored his first goal of the season against Oxford United after coming on for Solomon Taiwo. Whittingham made his 300th league appearance in a 1–1 draw with Burnley. On 26 August, Whittingham signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until at least the summer of 2014. Whittingham played a big role in Cardiff's centre midfield, producing many impressive performances and scoring several fine goals, including direct freekicks against Peterborough and Crystal Palace as well as a sublime chip from 35 yards away to Reading. His 50th league goal for Cardiff came on 22 November against Coventry City. His four goals in five matches led to Whittingham being nominated for the November Championship Player of the Month.
On 30 December 2011, Mackay revealed that the club had rejected a bid, thought to be around £3 million, from West Ham United for Whittingham. Following a goal scoring drought, Whittingham scored a penalty against Leicester in February and then scored straight from a corner against Peterborough. In February, Whittingham was nominated for the Championship Player of the Year award. Whittingham was part of all the matches in the League Cup campaign, which eventually saw Cardiff lose 3–2 on penalties to Liverpool in the final at Wembley Stadium. He made his 250th Cardiff appearance in a 2–2 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion, in which he scored on 7 March. Whittingham was voted the best player outside the Premier League in FourFourTwo magazine. Whittingham then won his second Cardiff City player of the year award at the end of the season. He was later named in the PFA Team of the Year for the Championship.
During the close season, more speculation about Whittingham's future in the Welsh capital arose, this time from Premier League club West Bromwich Albion. Whittingham said that he was fully committed to Cardiff, stating: "I'm happy here and until the gaffer [Malky Mackay] wants to sell me I'm here." On 28 August 2012, Whittingham signed a new 3-year deal at Cardiff, ending speculation on his future. Whittingham opened his scoring account for the 2012–13 season, on 2 September with a hat-trick in a 3–1 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. He then scored his fourth during the following match, converting a penalty against Leeds United, his 350th career appearance. After a drop in form, Whittingham was left out of the team towards the close of the season, but managed his eighth and final goal of the campaign with a last-minute penalty at home to Blackburn Rovers on 1 April. Whittingham collected a winner's medal as Cardiff lifted the Championship trophy following April's home encounter with Bolton Wanderers.
Cardiff's debut Premier League season started off brightly with wins over champions Manchester City and Fulham. Whittingham scored his first Premier League goal in nine years against Hull City. Despite the bright start, Cardiff were eventually relegated after just one season.
In July 2014, Whittingham signed a new three-year deal keeping him till in the Welsh capital until 2017. Despite a disappointing campaign for the Bluebirds, who finished in 11th, their lowest finish in 8 years, Whittingham was selected in The Football Manager Team of the Decade at the Football League Awards, on 19 April.
Cardiff rejected two bids from unnamed clubs for Whittingham in the summer of 2015 and he was described as the club's kingpin, by manager Russell Slade. Whittingham scored twice in a 4–1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion and overtook John Toshack and Hughie Ferguson in the club's all-time leading scorers list in English league competitions. Cardiff missed out on the play-offs at the end of the season.
Whittingham played less frequently for Cardiff after Neil Warnock was appointed manager in October 2016. As it was expected that his contract would expire at the end of the season, he received a standing ovation when substituted in his final home match, against Newcastle in 2017.
On 13 June 2017, Whittingham joined newly relegated League One club Blackburn Rovers on a two-year contract effective from the expiration of his Cardiff contract in July. Warnock praised him for his loyalty to the club, and had offered Whittingham a one-year contract extension but made it clear that he would feature less often than he had done before.
Whittingham had his contract with Blackburn terminated by mutual consent on 31 August 2018.
Whittingham was an England under-21 international, making his debut against the Netherlands in 2004 and was part of the squad that competed in the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship held in the Netherlands. He made one substitute appearance during the tournament, coming on late in a 2–2 draw with Italy.
On 18 March 2020, South Wales Police confirmed that Whittingham was in hospital after suffering head injuries as a result of an accidental fall at a pub in Barry on 7 March. He died from his injuries on 19 March at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, aged 35.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Aston Villa||2002–03||Premier League||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||4||0|
|Derby County (loan)||2005–06||Championship||11||0||—||—||—||11||0|
|Blackburn Rovers||2017–18||League One||20||0||0||0||1||0||2[c]||0||23||0|
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