It has been quite some time since Michael Tonge pulled on a Sheffield United shirt.
A graduate of the Blades’ academy, the midfielder made his first-team debut for the club in 2001, and went on to make just over 300 appearances for the club over the next seven and a bit years, even helping the club win promotion to the Premier League in 2006.
Eventually though, Tonge’s long association with Sheffield United would come to an end late in the summer of 2008, when he joined Stoke City for a reported £2million.
But despite spending the next five years with the Potters, Tonge would struggle to establish himself for the club in the Premier League.
The midfielder made just 19 appearances during his time with Stoke, spending much of that stint out on loan elsewhere, with the likes of Preston – where he had two separate spells – Derby, and Barnsley.
Tonge’s time with Stoke would eventually come to an end in January 2013, when, after joining Leeds on loan three months earlier, the midfielder made his move to Elland permanent.
In total, Tonge would make 76 appearances for the Whites, but ended his spell as a Leeds player out on loan at Millwall as they suffered relegation from the Championship at the end of the 2014/15 season.
With his contract at Leeds expiring, Tonge was released by the Whites in the summer of 2015, and would return to football in October that year, joining League Two side Stevenage.
Tonge then spent the next two seasons with Stevenage, making 61 appearances, scoring three goals and winning the club’s Player of the Year award for the 2015/16 season, only to be released when his contract expired at the end of the following campaign.
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The midfielder then headed for another League Two side in the shape of newly relegated Port Vale on a one-year deal in the summer of 2017. Tonge made 38 appearances and scored four goals for the Valiants during his debut campaign for the club, enough to trigger a one-year extension to his contract.
However, his second season with the club saw him make just one appearance, as a substitute on the opening day of the campaign, before his release by Port Vale was confirmed at the end of the 2019 season.
That effectively ended Tonge’s playing career at the age of 36, and after some time out of football, he would return to the game to begin his coaching career in November last year, taking on a new role of individual coach with Huddersfield Town’s academy.
The position sees Tonge helping young players cope with the transition from youth team to first-team, meaning his experiences from the start of his career at Sheffield United, could come in handy again now.