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Born: 29 Aug 1983
Joined Wycombe: February 2015 - Loan from Brentford.|
Wycombe Debut: Wycombe 2 Stevenage 2 - 28 Feb 2015 - League 2
First goal: Luton 2 Wycombe 3 - 24 Mar 2015 - League Two
Re-joined Wycombe: January 2017 - Permanent signing from Brentford
Released by mutual consent on 30th January 2019.
Career summary at Wycombe.
69 appearances - 6 goals
Originally joined Wanderers on 27th February 2015 on an one month loan deal from Brentford - thus linking up with fellow Brentford loanees Alfie Mawson and Nico Yennaris.
A former youth player at Charlton Athletic before spending a year with the Fulham accademy. However, had to drop down into non-League football to get First Team experience, taking in spells with Welling United, Ashford Town and then Dagenham & Redbridge. During a four spell with The Daggers, he was part of the squad that won promotion to the Football League at the end of the 2006/7 season.
Moved to Brentford in the summer of 2009 on a three year deal but after becoming a First Team regular, fell out of favour during a period when Andy Scott was Manager at Griffin Park. However, fought his way back into First Team contention under new management and was awarded subsequent contract extensions until June 2016.
It was announced on 23rd March 2015 that his loan at Wycombe had been extended until the end of the 2014/15 season and a day later he scored his first Wanderers goal in the 3-2 victory at Luton Town. However, there was football heartbreak at the end of the season when he tore a calf-muscle within the opening minute of the League Two Play-Off Final v Southend United at Wembley - he then watched on as Wanderers lost out in a penalty shoot-out.
Returned to Brentford at the end of the 2014/15 season and impressed enough again during the following season at Griffin Park to earn another contract extension - this time until June 2017.
Saunders returned to Wycombe, this time on a permament deal, on 20th January 2017 - signing a contract until June 2018. Having not played in the FA Cup for Brentford during the 2016/17 season, he was very soon part of the Wanderers team who lost out narrowly 4-3 to Spurs at White Hart Lane in 4th Round tie on 30th January 2017 - coming on as 77th minute substitute with the score at 2-2.
A regular in the Wanderers side from the start of the 2017/18 season but an injury sustained in January 2018 ruled him out for much of the second-half of the campaign. However, he returned for the closing games and was a late substitute on the day Wanderers won promotion to League One with a 2-1 victory at Chesterfield on 28th April 2018.
On 3rd May 2018 it was announced that he had been awarded a one year extension to his contract at Adams Park (running until June 2019). Commenting on the new deal, Wycombe Manager Gareth Ainsworth said: "[Sam Saunders] is a hugely important player for us, both in terms of his ability on the pitch and the experience he brings to the changing room, having spent a lot of his career in League 1 and the Championship. Sam has immense talent on the ball and gives us a fantastic attacking threat from midfield, as well as being a specialist at set pieces, so to have him on board for another year is another important step for us.”
Despite the contract extension, he appeared to fall out of favour with Gareth Ainsworth during the opening games of the 2018/19 campaign and was eventually left completely out of the match day squad during the early weeks of October 2018, culminating in his release by 'mutual consent' on 30th January 2019. Explaining the situation, Ainsworth said: "Sam has had some really good times with this club and played his part in the side that won promotion last season, which means he’ll always have a special place in Wycombe’s history. In the first couple of months of the season we began to change the way we play which wasn’t necessarily suited to Sam’s style, and I think the outstanding form of others such as Dominic Gape and Curtis Thompson has meant that he hasn’t been able to break into the team. He’s been brilliant with his patience and understanding during this time and now it’s right for him and the club to part ways, but we wish him all the best for the future and say thank you for everything he’s done for us.”
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