Matthew Thomas Martin Connolly was born on September 24, 1987 in Barnet and joined Arsenal Academy, graduating through the academy teams, becoming captain of the senior academy team, and then moving into the League Cup team for the match against West Bromwich Albion on October 24, 2006.
Having made his breakthrough on November 23, 2006, he went out on his first loan period, to Bournemouth, playing five league games and two FA Cup matches, and scoring against Nottingham Forest.
He returned to Arsenal and played in the League Cup quarter final against Liverpool in the amazing match that finished 6-3 to the Gunners.
On July 9, 2007, a season-long loan spell to Colchester was announced, but this was curtailed on January 2, 2008, after he had played 16 games and scored two goals and he transferred permanently to Queens Park Rangers. He was called up to England Under-21s shortly after.
Despite having played 36 games in the Championship winning team with QPR, he then went to Reading on loan but only played six times as Reading won the Championship. Thus he played for two championship-winning teams.
In 2011 he announced that he was the owner of C16 – the only tattoo parlour in Hatfield. Later in an interview he said, “When I set it up I knew football came first. I have a fantastic tattooist and people in the shop run it for me. When I finish training I usually head to the shop to see how things are going or I may just socialise.”
But the football was not over. In August 2012 he moved to Cardiff for £500,000, played the season for them and won the championship for the third-successive year!
It was an odd move for as QPR confirmed the departure of 24-year-old Connolly to Cardiff they were pursuing 34-year-old Ricardo Carvalho on loan. Well, it seemed odd to me.
What’s more, he started 2012 as a regular in a Premier League side but ended the season with Cardiff going down to the Championship, while QPR moved the other way.
When Matthew Connolly left QPR he was the second longest serving player left at the club and had come in as part of a rebuilding process with many other youngsters. He seemed by then to possess everything that a thinking central defender has – all the awareness of the world around him, the ball control, ability to see the right pass.
Quite why they didn’t want to keep him is hard to see, but that is how football goes. At the time of writing (December 27, 2014) he has played 14 games for Cardiff this season, and seems a permanent fixture in the side.