22. Robert Kozluk (Part Two)
Feature by Blades-mad
Updated Monday, 17th January 2011
Blades-Mad feature former Derby County, Barnsley and Wigan Athletic defender Robert Kozluk in our player-profiles section.
DoB: 05 August 1977
Height: 5ft 8inch
Debut (1st) 13/03/1999 at Tranmere Rovers (3-2).
Debut (2nd): 08/08/2010 at Cardiff City (1-1).
Clubs: Derby County (youth, 1995-97), Derby County (1997-99, 14 (8) + 0), Sheffield United (1999-07, 215 (8) + 2), Huddersfield Town (loan, 2000, 14 (0) + 0), Wigan Athletic (loan, 2001, 0 (0) + 0), Preston North End (loan, 2005, 1 (0) + 0), Barnsley (2007-10, 82 (4) + 2), Sheffield United (2010-??). Total: (1997-?? 326 (34) + 2)
The 2005/06 campaign will no doubt be unforgettable for him and any fans of the club; he played in just over half of the games for United as they virtually unbeatable; under manger Neil Warnock the club successfully won promotion to the Premier League, finishing second behind runner way leaders Reading.
Kozluk played in the Steel City Double success also; beating rivals Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Bramall Lane and 2-1 at Hillsborough.
By this time Leigh Bromby - who had signed from the Owls two seasons previous; had established himself as the leading full-back. And whilst Rob was given opportunities at top flight with United were limited he was mainly used as backup and played a considerable amount of times.
United claimed wins over Newcastle United (1-0), Watford (1-0), Charlton Athletic (2-1) and Wigan Athletic (1-0) in what was a struggling season that ended in relegation. In April 2007 he played in a 2-0 defeat at Manchester United, this happened to be his final appearance for United.
His contract expired in June 2007 and whilst he was offered a new deal he decided to decline opted for pastures new. There was local interest in Kozluk following his release; Yorkshire duo Leeds United and Barnsley chasing his signature.
A move to Elland Road interested the defender despite the Whites operating at League One level; however he wasn’t keen on working under then manager Dennis Wise and opted on a move to South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley.
He left the club as their longest serving player having spent eight years at Bramall Lane where he made a total of 223 appearances and scoring twice.
Kozluk made his Tykes debut in a 4-1 defeat to Coventry City and whilst the Oakwell club struggled in the Coca-Cola Championship – only just staving off relegation on the final days of the season he played around 30 times as the club were successful in the FA Cup.
They arguably came the closest to winner the prestigious competition since they beat West Bromwich Albion at the Lane in 1912, a fine cup-run which started in round three at home to Blackpool (won 2-1) where Rob didn’t feature.
At Anfield their cup run looked to be at an end; but they did the seemingly impossible – despite falling behind to a Dirk Kuyt strike they hit back through captain Stephen Foster and with the game looking to be heading to a replay Brian Howard struck into added on minutes to book a place in round six.
They were handed a plump tie at home to Chelsea, again the Reds were expected to make an exit from the competition but they overcame the giants with a 1-0 win; though Kozluk only just made it to the game against the Blues.
Two games earlier he had been sent-off in a 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday but was fortunate to only be suspended for one fixture in a game at Blackpool.
Barnsley headed to Wembley Stadium were they faced Cardiff City at the semi-final stage, but it was the Welsh club who came out on top after a poor performance (lost 1-0) by the Tykes; but it was Portsmouth who where cup winners that year.
He was ever present the following season and played in both fixtures against United as the Red and White Wizards came away with a 2-1 win in each game.
Kozluk found opportunities limited for the 2009-10 season – Simon Davey departure early on in the campaign with Mark Robins taking charge; he was sent off in a 2-0 home defeat to Coventry City in mid August but still retained his place until January.
On 12th July 2010 it was announced that the defender had signed for Sheffield United on a one year deal, he had been training with the Blades since his release from the Oakwell club.
He made his second Blades debut on the opening day of the 2010-11 seasons’ campaign as a used substitute – replacing Leon Britton in the second half and has quickly found himself falling down the pecking order with Andy Taylor already on the books and via the signing of Stephen Jordan.
Updated: December 2010.