Name: Chris Weale
Date of Birth: 2 September 1982
Place of Birth: Yeovil
Wealey, as he is known by the Huish Park faithful, was a product of the club's youth system after joining Yeovil in August 1999 from local side Gillingham. Chris was first choice keeper for the Youth Team that won the SWEB South-West Counties Under 18s League title in 2000 and during the same season he broke into the Screwfix League Reserve side.
Chris made his first team debut in July 2000 having come on as a substitute against Southampton in Tony Pennock's testimonial game before making his first full competitive debut against Wellington in the Somerset Premier Cup in October of that year. Chris began to gain more experience in the first team in the 2001-02 season, during which he played 38 matches for the first team while establishing himself as a firm favorite amongst the fans. The following year he not only played an indispensable role in helping Yeovil achieve promotion to the Football League but his consistency was rewarded with a call-up to the England National XI several times during the season.
It was only a matter of time before a top British club such as West Ham inquired about Weale. Alan Pardew invited the highly rated keeper to train with West Ham for a couple of days a week in March 2004 before playing in a Reserve game for the Hammers - it didn't lead to a contract offer, but did heighten his profile further.
Throughout his career at Huish Park he has been heavily praised, not just from the home fans, but also from opposition managers such as ex-England coach Peter Taylor. Taylor acknowledged after the 0-0 draw at the KC Stadium ‘The saves were worthy of the Premiership’. Yeovil boss Gary Johnson describes ‘They were world class saves. We see that every day in training. He's a super goalkeeper.’ His performance was acknowledged his fellow peers and was chosen for the Football League Team of the Year for League Two on two consecutive seasons.
During the final season of his first spell with the club, Wealey had to face strong competition for the number one jersey from Steve Collis. Collis showed great promise when he was given the chance in goal during his performance in the latter part of both the 2003/04 and the 2004/05 season and the two keepers split first team responsibilities during the 2005/06 season.
That was in part due to a knee injury sustained by Chris during March 2006 at Chesterfield, which he aggravated a few weeks later. It was later diagnosed as a cruciate ligament injury which meant that his final appearance for the club was against Scunthorpe United on Good Friday in April 2006.
Despite facing a lengthy layoff that was expected to keep him out until at least November 2006, the club still offered Chris a new deal, but he chose instead to sign for Bristol City on a one year deal on June 28th 2006, teaming up with Gary Johnson - the manager who had introduced him to regular first team football. There his time between the sticks was to be sporadic - just 14 appearances for their first team across three years, combined with two single game loan spells for Hereford United.
Chris subsequently made a return to Huish Park in March 2009 as a loan player, making an emphatic start to his spell by keeping five clean sheets in a row and then scoring a 90th minute goal against Hereford United in April 2009 to give him what will be one of his career highlights. Wealey's performances were good enough to help Yeovil stay in League One, and to persuade Leicester City to offer him a two year contract in the summer of 2009.
His first two seasons with the Foxes were a big success, with the bulk of his 87 appearances for the Championship club coming during that period. But a few individual errors coupled with the arrival of Kasper Schmeichel from Leeds United saw him only make three appearances during his final season - a three game loan spell with Northampton Town ended with a serious knee injury that ended his 2011-12 season, and also ended his time with Leicester, as he was released that summer.
Across the two years that followed, Chris played for Shrewsbury Town, making 86 appearances as their first choice goalkeeper. At the end of the 2012-13 season he was Shrewsbury's Player's Player of the Year and Player of the Year in their end of season awards, but a change of first team management meant that he was less in favour during his second season - even so, the decision to release him at the end of his second season was a touch surprising.
That paved the way for Chris to return to Yeovil Town for a third spell with the club. He has signed a two year contract at Huish Park that will keep him at the club until the summer of 2016.
Total Appearances: 236
Total Goals: 1
Debut Appearance: 18 October 2000
Debut Goal: 21 April 2009