Birthdate: 10 January 1984
Birthplace: Houston, USA
Other clubs: Millwall (loan, 2005; transfer, 2006–10), Norwich City (2010-12), Leicester City (2012-), Derby County (loan 2013-14)
Signed for LFC: 1992-94 at Academy / 1999
Liverpool debut: 26.10.2004
Last appearance: 25.10.2005
Contract expiry: 13.06.2006
Win ratio: 71.43% W: 5 D: 0 L: 2
LFC league games/goals: 0 / 0
Total LFC games/goals: 7 / 0
A centre-half, who is a USA youth international, as he was born in Houston, Texas where his dad, Barry, was running a ‘soccer’ coaching school. Zak Whitbread moved back to England with his English family when he was only two-years-old. It soon became apparent that Zak had inherited some of his dad’s footballing talents which had earned him a career at semi-professional clubs in England. Zak was invited to join Liverpool’s academy at the tender age of eight, but his stint was cut short two years later when his family moved to Singapore where Barry became the assistant technical director for the Singapore national team. Zak lived in Singapore for five years as his dad ultimately was promoted to team manager, a role he served with distinction from 1996-1998. Zak progressed through the youth ranks of Singapore’s Geylang United, a club that his future Liverpool teammates were well aware of as he explains. “I did an interview with FourFourTwo magazine, which misprinted Geylang as “Gayland”. The lads thought that was hilarious, asking me what we all got up to in the “gay-land” dressing room.” Barry moved the family back to England in 1998 as he wanted Zak to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer so at fifteen Zak rejoined the Reds’ academy. The Whitbread family’s ties with Liverpool were further strengthened when Barry was appointed head of recruitment at the academy, where he served until 2007.
Zak went on to captain the under-19 squad and made his reserve team debut at 17 in September 2001. At the end of a three-year scholarship in April 2003 he was deemed good enough to move on to Melwood. He was finally given a chance to shine for the first team in the 2004 pre-season tour of Canada and USA under new manager Rafa Benítez and started four matches in the local cups where Liverpool admittedly featured an under-strength side. He couldn’t remove either Sami Hyypia or Jamie Carragher from the first team, but was still compared with the Great Finn because of his ability go forward. “I’m aware that some people have been comparing me to Sami and I take that as a massive compliment. I’d like to think I’m better looking than him though.” Whitbread was sent on loan to Millwall in the Championship in November 2005 and new Lions’ boss and former Liverpool player, Nigel Spackman, made Whitbread’s loan move permanent. He played 75 League matches for Millwall before signing for Norwich City in January 2010. After Norwich were promoted to the Premier League after a six-year absence Whitbread played 18 League games during the 2010/11 season, a few alongside former Red, Danny Ayala. But Whitbread’s season was disrupted by injury and the 28-year-old defender was released by the Canaries in July. Whitbread signed for Championship Leicester City in the summer of 2012.
Whitbread played in sixteen matches in The Championship for Leicester in 2012/13, scoring once.
At the end of September 2013 Whitbread moved to Derby County on a three-month loan deal and made four league appearances for the Rams, scoring on his debut in a 4-4 draw with Ipswich Town on 1 October 2013. His stay at Derby was extended because he played in their final league match at Leeds in early-May. But his contract with Leicester expired at the end of the 2013/14 season so this left the American-born defender as a free agent at the age of thirty.