Steven Caulker

Familiar Faces | A catch-up with Steven Caulker

As the Bluebirds welcome Southampton to Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday afternoon, we take a trip down memory lane with a defender who represented both clubs. 

Steven Caulker moved to the Welsh capital from Tottenham Hotspur in July 2013, following the Club’s promotion to the Premier League. 

He arrived with great pedigree, having impressed in his appearances for Spurs prior to making the switch.

“The move came with a bit of pressure, for sure,” Steven began. “I wanted to go in and positively impact the side. The price tag at the time was a lot of money. Nowadays, it isn’t so much, but it was ten years ago, so I certainly felt a responsibility to deliver for the Club and the fans.

“I fitted in straight away. You had Mark Hudson there as the club captain and he made me feel very welcome. There was Nicky Maynard, who I played with before at Bristol City, Jordon Mutch who I had been with in the England setup and I had played with Craig Bellamy in the Olympics, so I had a few familiar faces around me. It was a really good squad and we had a tight bond. I was really fortunate in that sense.”

Steven Caulker

A highlight of Steven’s time with the Bluebirds came very early in the season, with the second match resulting in a memorable 3-2 victory over a star-studded Manchester City side.

With Aron Gunarsson netting for City, striker Fraizer Campbell’s brace secured a famous victory.

Steven continued: “It was unreal that day, just absolutely amazing. I remember feeling sky high and the atmosphere around the place was just electric, the whole stadium was buzzing.

“Manchester City had so much quality and it’s remained that way. They’ve just got bigger and bigger, with even more names in the hat. They were a top side and to beat them gave us a lot of confidence going into the season and I thought we were going to be more than ok. It was a really emotional journey.”

Steven Caulker

Another huge highlight followed in November of that campaign, with the first Premier League South Wales derby taking place.

In front of 27,463 fans at CCS, the Bluebirds claimed an historic win thanks to a second half header from Caulker, who was named Man of the Match.

“The atmosphere that day was really tense,” the defender added. “If you go back to the Manchester City game, it was rocking, but it was different for the Swansea game. Both sets of fans were just desperate not to lose and we felt the same as players.

"To have got the goal and that be the goal that won us the game, it was special. I’ve still got the Man of the Match award today on my mantelpiece. It’s a really fond memory of mine. 

“It was a really cagey affair. We knew that this game was going to go down in history. It just felt like one goal might do it. Fraizer nearly got a second late-on, but Michel Vorm took him out and got a red card. We came close to a second, but one was enough.”

Steven Caulker

After impressing in his solitary season with the Bluebirds, the centre-back stayed in the Premier League with Queens Park Rangers for the start of the following campaign. 

Reflecting on his time at City, he said: “It was a real honour to represent the Club and wear the captain’s armband, I don’t take that lightly. I was 21 years of age, but I was given the opportunity to lead the team out and that was really special.

“It was certainly something that I look back on with fond memories. I really loved my time in Cardiff, it’s a great city and there was a real buzz around the place.”

Steven Caulker

Fast forward to the 2015/16 campaign and the centre-back had a loan spell with Saturday’s opponents, Southampton. 

The side, who were then managed by Ronald Koeman, had a talented squad that featured the likes of Sadio Mané and Virgil van Dijk, who have gone on to become Premier League and Champions League winners with Liverpool.

“It was a really good squad and at the time I went there, you had van Dijk and José Fonte ahead of me, so I think it would have been tough for any centre-half to break into the team", Steven added.

“It was a frustrating period for me, but it’s one that I gained a lot of experience from. To have played with the likes of Mané and van Dijk, many others, it was a good experience for me.”

Steven Caulker

After leaving Queens Park Rangers in 2017, the defender represented the likes of Alanyaspor in Turkey, where he played under Erol Bulut, as well as signing for Fenerbahçe in 2021. 

Currently, Steven is a player-manager at Málaga City, who play in the Tercera Federación, the fifth tier of Spanish football.

Having taken his first steps into management, the defender concluded with his aims for the future.

“I’ve loved it so far,” he said. “All those years of looking at managers and blaming them for this or that, it’s certainly a change! It’s a different perspective when you’ve got 25 players to manage. 

“You always look for results and it’s a job that keeps me busy, but I’m loving it, learning a new language and adapting to a new culture, there have been so many positives.

“I’d love to be a Premier League manager one day, hopefully with Cardiff City. I feel like I’ve got unfinished business at the Club. I would love to come back one day, but we’re a good few years away from that right now.

“I’m focusing on my development at the moment and I’m learning my trade, but certainly in the future, I’d love to go on that journey and if it’s with Cardiff City, that’d be even sweeter.”