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Promotion accomplished, Berhalter surprises with move to 1860 München.

Promotion accomplished, Berhalter surprises with move to 1860 München.

DeMerit goal sparks Watford past Leeds 3-0 to join Premier League.

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McBride voted Fulham's best player; Convey, Hahnemann rated best at their positions.

Stewart returns to NAC Breda to become technical director.

Berhalter, Cottbus clinch promotion with 3-1 win over München.

Everton gains Howard, making loan deal with Manchester United.

DeMerit stands out; Watford advances to promotion final.

Gibbs signs with Charlton; Lewis, Leeds United advance in promotion quest.

Lewis free kick gives Leeds 1-1 draw with North End in playoff opener.

Friedel, Rovers are heading to Europe after 1-0 decision over Chelsea.

Hahnemann, Convey help Reading close season with record.

Berhalter penalty kick moves Cottbus to brink of promotion.

Americans Abroad

Whitbread signs two-year contract with Millwall.

Zak Whitbread
Zak Whitbread, who first joined the Liverpool youth academy at age eight, was loaned by the Reds to Millwall in November and now the Lions have secured the defender on a full-time basis.
-- Liverpool FC web site photo --
By Gary Davidson

(Sunday, June 18, 2006) -- American defender Zak Whitbread, who spent last season on loan with Millwall, has signed on permanently with the Lions.

Millwall is coming off a miserable 2005-06 campaign when it went 8-22-16 (40 points) and was relegated to third-division League One. Acquired from Liverpool of the Premier League, Whitbread appeared in 25 matches, all starts, for Millwall, which finished 23rd among 24 teams in the English League Championship.

"I really enjoyed myself last season at Millwall and I just felt that this was absolutely the right move for me," Whitbread told the team's web site. "I'm really looking forward to the new season and trying to help the club get back into The Championship at the first attempt."

Citing Whitbread's popularity with the fans, as well as his talent, Lions newly-appointed manager Nigel Spackman was glad to see him ink a two-year contract. It was reported a transfer fee was paid, one that could increase to as much as $370,000, depending on the number of appearances Whitbread makes.

"Zak is a very promising young center back who plays the game in the right way," Spackam told his club's web site. "I think the Millwall fans took to him last season and he was very keen to come here. It has taken a lot of negotiation behind the scenes to get the deal done, but he will be another important addition to the squad."

Whitbread, who is comfortable on the left flank or in the middle, was born in Houston, but has lived in the United States for less than a year of his life. Still, he has represented the U.S. in age-group competitions and has left open the possibility of representing the Red, White and Blue on the senior level, should he be summoned.

He first played for the U.S. under-20 men in the L'Alcudia International Tournament in Spain in August 2003 and became a regular with the team, scoring a goal in the World Youth (Under-20) Championships in a 3-1 setback to Germany.

Whitbread was named to the U.S. under-23 men in the lead-up to the 2004 Summer Olympics, but he was injured and unable to play in the qualifying tournament. The U.S. failed to qualify for the Games.

Whitbread, 22, has a long history with Liverpool, having first attended the club's youth academy at age eight. He left after two years, but rejoined the youth team when he was 15.

Whitbread advanced to captain the under-19 team and eventually signed a two-year contract with Liverpool, accompanying the first team on a 2004 tour of Asia. In 2005, he signed a two-year extension.

After becoming a regular with the reserve team, he was pegged to join the first team again the next year for a trip to the U.S.

He made an impressive debut for Liverpool, being named "Man of the Match" in a 3-0 Carling Cup victory over Millwall in October 2004. In 2004-5, he played three times in the Carling Cup and one in the FA Cup for the Reds.

Last season, he appeared twice for Liverpool -- once each in the UEFA Cup and Carling Cup -- before a November 24 loan to Millwall. The loan expired January 3, but the Lions extended it to the end of the season.

Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes publisher and managing editor.

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