Forgotten one-cap England star who retired aged 28 now runs property company with one-goal Premier League cult icon | The Sun

SETH JOHNSON’S body broke down so much that it forced him to retire aged just 28.

But now he is building himself back up in his new career running a property company with a former cult hero.

Johnson, 44, burst on to the scene as a youngster with Crewe, making his debut aged 17 and racking up more than 100 appearances before a £3million move to Derby in 1999 when he was 20.

But before moving to Pride Park, he stayed put with Crewe to help them avoid relegation.

His stellar performances for the Rams earned him his solitary England cap in 2000 under Peter Taylor.

The midfielder came on for Gareth Barry in a 1-0 friendly defeat away in Italy in what was David Beckham’s first match as captain. 


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Eleven months later, Johnson left Derby for Leeds in a £7m move that is remembered for an infamous tale about his Elland Road wages.

The story goes that he went into negotiations with Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale hoping to increase his money from £5,000 per week to £13,000.

But Ridsdale reportedly made an opening offer of £30,000 – which prompted stunned silence before the chairman immediately bumped it up to £37,000.

But Johnson, who scored five goals in 121 Premier League games, clarified: “People don’t know the story. When they talk about negotiations for the contract, I wasn’t even there. The contract had nothing to do with me.

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“I remember being at home when it got sorted. I’d agreed to go, but my agent rung me up and told me about the deal.

“It wasn’t motivated by money for me. I’d had a good couple of years at Derby and just signed a new deal so I was on decent money anyway, but Derby were bottom of the league at the time, Leeds were near the top, I knew a lot of the lads there, and Derby decided to sell me because they wanted the money.”

The move did not work as planned as Johnson was plagued by a host of injuries that required seven surgeries in his four years at Leeds, limiting him to just 59 appearances.

A failed medical saw a move to Middlesbrough collapse before he became frozen out – with Leeds knowing one more appearance would trigger another payment to Derby.

In the end, Johnson – who made the first of his 15 England Under-21 caps as a sub for Frank Lampard – was released in 2005 and returned to Derby for two more years.

His last game in professional football saw his side win the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

But another knee injury sustained in that match spelt the end of his career aged just 28, forcing him to hang up his boots. 

However, determined to keep himself active, he moved into business – linking up with former Hartlepool, Luton, Derby and Leicester striker Steve Howard, who scored one of his 209 club career goals in the Premier League following the Rams’ promotion.

Both men are listed as active directors at Greygoose Property Investments Ltd on Companies House since September 2010.

The firm focuses on buying and selling real estate in the north-east, while Howard is also heavily involved with another residential and commercial management agency. 

Johnson added to Planet Football in 2017: “The surgeon said I should retire and that my knee was in a bad way. In the back of my mind I wanted to give it another go, but I didn’t want to go to another team injured and keep breaking down.

“Speak to anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’ve always been football-mad. 

“Early on, I really struggled with not being a footballer because to go from something you’d done all your life pretty much every day to suddenly not doing that was difficult.

“Even now, I want to do something, but I still don’t know what. I’d rather do something that I enjoy doing, and I never really fancied the coaching side of things.

“I’ve got a property company up in Newcastle with Stevie Howard, who I used to play with at Derby, but apart from that I don’t do much. I play a bit of golf, I play the odd charity game and golf events, but apart from that not much.

“I played football as a kid in Devon, they don’t produce many footballers down there really. I’m proud of what I achieved and what I did.”

Johnson, meanwhile, remains a member of Ingenious Film Partners 3 LLP alongside one-time England team-mate Jamie Carragher.

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The company has a long list of illustrious former members from the football world, including Sir Alex Ferguson, Steven Gerrard, Gary Lineker, Joey Barton, Tim Cahill, Emile Heskey, Robbie Keane and John Arne Riise.

Ingenious’ capital has helped back a number of huge films including Avatar, Life of Pi and Shaun of the Dead.

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