Football League World
·17 September 2023
Football League World
·17 September 2023
This article is part of Football League World's 'Terrace Talk' series, which provides personal opinions from our FLW Fan Pundits regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more...
Charlton Athletic have endured a topsy-turvy period within the club's history since the turn of the millennium.
Having started the turn of the century as Premier League regulars, the Addicks have expectation on their shoulders at present, as in terms of club stature they are one of the biggest in League One.
Charlton have been in the third tier in nine of the last thirteen seasons, with those top-flight days a distant memory, with financial mismanagement and turbulent ownerships dominating the scene in SE7 in the past four to five years.
In the midst of this, there have been a number of standout players notorious for their passion in a red and white shirt, and our Charlton fan pundit Ben Fleming has given his seven 'hardest' players at the Valley over the last 20 years, so let's take a look at the selection.
A seasoned midfielder in the EFL across the last 18 years of his career, Darren Pratley comes in at the bottom of our Fan Pundit's list, having spent three seasons at the Valley after he ended a seven-year association with Bolton Wanderers.
The central midfielder was a regular throughout his first season in South London, where Lee Bowyer's side came through a dramatic play-off campaign by defeating Doncaster Rovers on penalties in the semi-finals before defeating Sunderland in the final at Wembley, coming from 1-0 down to win in the 94th minute through Patrick Bauer.
In the Championship, Pratley would feature 36 times as the Addicks were relegated on the final day, but he wouldn't be afraid to show his toughness, accumulating 11 yellow cards across the season. In his final season at Charlton, he would gather eight yellow cards and two reds across 39 outings before joining Leyton Orient after a total of 117 appearances and seven goals at the Valley.
Pearce spent six years in South London between 2016 and 2022 after joining on an undisclosed fee from Wigan Athletic.
The former Leeds United centre-half was a regular feature under seven different managers throughout his time in South London, in which he was also part of Bowyer's play-off winning side in 2018/19, before featuring in 39 Championship games the following year. He would also stick with the Addicks following their return to the third tier in 2020, making a total of 175 appearances for the club with seven goals to his name.
In terms of being 'hard', Pearce would also rack up 30 cautions and one sending off during his tenure. Most recently, he would become interim manager between the sacking of Dean Holden and the appointment of Michael Appleton.
Another midfielder familiar to fans of the EFL over the last decade or so is next in the form of the Portuguese youth international, Jose Semedo.
The central midfield player joined the Addicks in the summer of 2007 on a free transfer from Sporting CP under Alan Pardew, soon being deployed in the middle of the park after initially being signed as a defender.
Across 151 appearances in South London, Semedo would win the club's Player of the Year award in 2010/11, with three goals. His use as a defensive-minded player was echoed by his tally of 33 yellow cards and four red cards before joining Sheffield Wednesday.
Llera would become the first Spaniard to represent Charlton Athletic after his move from MK Dons in the summer of 2009, and gained a reputation as a tough centre-back in just two years with the Addicks after their first fall into League One this century.
Across his two-year stint, the defender would feature 45 times for the club, posing a threat at the opposite end of the pitch with a tally of six goals, as well as 9 yellow cards and 1 sending off.
Just like the aforementioned Semedo, Llera would depart for Hillsborough , doing so in January 2012.
The experienced centre-back will be back at the Valley again this season, having made himself a regular for his first club, Cambridge United, in a second spell at the Abbey Stadium, helping the U's maintain their third tier status in May.
His time as a Charlton player lasted for three years, but Morrison was a crucial figure for Chris Powell during this period, as he would join from Sheffield Wednesday in July 2011.
In his first season, Morrison would make 45 appearances, with four goals to his name as the Addicks were crowned League One champions with an extraordinary 101 points, a club record and season record across Europe.
The eight-time England C international would continue as a key asset to Charlton's consolidation in the Championship, with a further 96 appearances in all competitions, before moving to Birmingham City in the infancy of the 2014/15 season.
Rufus spent the entirety of his footballing career at Charlton between the years of 1993 and 2004, making his debut in 1994 at the age of 19.
In the following season, Rufus was named in the First Division Team of the Year, as Charlton looked to begin their rise towards the Premier League.
The centre-back made a major contribution to doing so in the remarkable 1997/98 Play-Off Final, scoring his first senior goal to make it 3-3 with five minutes of normal time to go. Eventually, Charlton would defeat Sunderland 8-7 on penalties after drawing 4-4.
Rufus would then be sent off on his first ever Premier League appearance against Newcastle, but continued to be a vital player in the coming years as Alan Curbishley's outfit bounced back from an immediate relegation in 99/00, winning the First Division title with the defender scoring six times.
After aiding their consolidation in 00/01, with two further goals in 32 appearances, Rufus would begin a number of injury setbacks which would lead to his retirement in 2004 at just 29. In 2005, he was named as the club's greatest defender and, eight years later, was inducted into the Charlton Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Icelandic tops our Fan Pundit's list as Charlton's hardest player over the last 20 years, having spent his time at the Valley between 2003 and 2007.
Hreiddarsson asserted himself as a dominant defender within his first season as a regular in 2003/04, with two goals and assists in 33 Premier League appearances, before continuing as a key figure for Curbishley for the remainder of his time in South London, making a total of 149 club appearances, with a total of five goals, 16 yellow cards and a further sending off.
He would join Portsmouth after Charlton's relegation in 2007, where he would win the FA Cup in his first season at Fratton Park. Hreiddarsson is the most relegated player in Premier League history, with five on his CV.