Walters gave Prem’s ‘worst performance ever’ including two own goals

Graham Potter reviews Chelsea's defeat at Spurs

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Jonathan Walters was not regarded as one of the most prolific of strikers in the Premier League era, but at Stoke City, he forged a reputation for finding the back of the net. Unfortunately, on one dark day just over 10 years ago, he experienced the embarrassment of putting the ball in at the wrong end not once, but twice, in one of the competition’s worst ever individual displays.

The record will show that Walters notched 43 goals in 224 Premier League appearances for Stoke, but that somewhat overlooks the time when he scored two own goals in a single game against Chelsea – becoming only the fourth player to experience the unwanted feat after Gary Breen, Jamie Carragher and Michael Proctor.

On his 100th Premier League appearance, Walters would have been keen to make the occasion an unforgettable one with a goal – and it didn’t take long for him to do that.

In the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Cesar Azpilicueta sent in a cross from the right and the Republic of Ireland international could only watch on in dismay as he steered a bullet header past his own goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Minutes after Stoke had correctly seen a penalty overturned after an intervention from assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis, Walters’ misery doubled when he bundled Juan Mata’s corner into the Stoke net to make it 2-0.

Potter boss Tony Pulis might have been gracious enough to substitute him late on when Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard made sure of the points to give the Blues a four-goal cushion. Instead, the Welshman handed Walters a lifeline to salvage some dignity from the penalty spot when he was fouled by captain John Terry inside the 18-yard box with seconds remaining.

The 29-year-old stepped up, knowing that a goal would at least provide some much-needed consolation after a miserable day for himself and the home supporters at the Britannia Stadium. But to his horror, he leaned back and sent his effort sailing over Petr Cech’s crossbar.

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Walters could only bow his head in his hands as the final whistle was blown, bringing a bitter end to one of the worst displays in recent memory. After the game, Pulis sympathised with his striker after conceding it “wasn’t our day”.

“Jon’s fine,” Pulis said. “We look after people at the football club. It wasn’t our day today, it was Chelsea’s day.”

Some footballers might have chosen to lock those memories in a box and throw away the key. But to his credit, Walters decided self-deprecation was the best way forward – reflecting on the incident when Hazard left Chelsea for Real Madrid in 2019.

“Now that @hazardeden10 has left, if you want goals from someone who has produced for you in the past @chelseafc I could be tempted”, he tweeted, adding the hashtag #2in0 in reference to his unusual brace.

Now 39, Walters retired from the game after a persistent Achilles injury in March 2019 and has remained in the football sphere, working as a technical director for both Fleetwood Town and Irish outfit Waterford Town.

He is also seen with the occasional punditry appearance on Sky Sports’ coverage of the EFL – one can only hope he doesn’t tune into Premier League Years 2012-13 any time soon.

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