Whitehead joined his local non-League club Abingdon Town before he signed for Football League club Oxford United in 1999. He impressed in the lower divisions and was signed by Championship club Sunderland in 2004. He won promotion in his first season with Sunderland, although they were relegated from the Premier League after one season. He was made captain by Roy Keane as Sunderland claimed an instant return to the top flight. After two more seasons in the north-east, Whitehead signed for Stoke City in 2009. He helped Stoke reach the 2011 FA Cup Final, where the team finished runners-up to Manchester City. After spending four seasons with Stoke, Whitehead signed for Middlesbrough in 2013. He moved to Huddersfield Town two years later, helping them to promotion from the Championship in 2017.
Whitehead playing for Stoke City in 2010
|Full name||Dean Whitehead|
|Date of birth||12 January 1982|
|Place of birth||Abingdon, England|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Playing position||Central midfielder / Right-back|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15:12, 14 May 2018 (UTC)|
Born in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Whitehead started his career with Abingdon Town's youth team, before joining the youth scheme of his local Football League club, Oxford United. He progressed through the ranks, making his first-team debut in a 2–0 win over Luton Town in the Football League Trophy on 7 December 1999. Whitehead played in 23 matches in 2000–01 as Oxford suffered relegation to the Third Division. He scored his first goal in the Football League against Rushden & Diamonds in August 2001. He was a regular in 2001–02, playing in 43 fixtures as Oxford had a poor season, finishing in 21st position. He was restricted to 22 appearances in 2002–03 as Oxford missed out on a play-off place by a single point. In 2003–04, Whitehead reclaimed his place in the team, making 47 appearances and scoring seven goals. After playing for the club for five seasons, his contract expired and he turned down the offer of a new one from the club.
In June 2004, Whitehead signed for Championship club Sunderland on a free transfer. Sunderland were ordered to pay £150,000 to Oxford at an FA tribunal, to compensate for the time and money put into his development. Oxford would also receive 25% of any fee should Sunderland sell Whitehead. Whitehead quickly became a key member of the team as Sunderland won the Championship in 2004–05, and was chosen as Players' Player of the Year by his teammates at the end of the season.
Whitehead was given a new three-year contract during 2005–06. He scored a swerving 30-yard free kick past then England goalkeeper Paul Robinson in a 3–2 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. During 2005–06, he resigned the captaincy to concentrate on his football but he deputised for the frequently injured Steven Caldwell and was appointed on a permanent basis after Caldwell was sold to Burnley. Sunderland were relegated to the Championship for 2006–07, during which Whitehead was given the captain's armband for the second time. Reading had a bid of £1.2 million for Whitehead rejected in July 2006.
Whitehead and teammate Liam Lawrence both signed new contracts in August 2006. Sunderland finished first in the Championship in 2006–07, thus making an instant return to the Premier League. Whitehead was included in the PFA Team of the Year. He also came second in the club's Player of the Year vote. Whitehead sustained a cruciate knee ligament injury in a match against Wigan Athletic in August 2007, which ruled him out for six months. He made his comeback from injury in November 2007.
After Sunderland returned to the Premier League, Whitehead found himself playing at right-back, although this ended when manager Roy Keane signed right-backs Phil Bardsley and Pascal Chimbonda, allowing Whitehead to move back into central midfield. He left Sunderland in August 2009 after making 200 appearances for the club.
Whitehead signed a four-year contract with Premier League club Stoke City on 24 July 2009 for an initial £3 million fee, rising to £5 million with add-ons. He stated that Stoke's team spirit was the main reason for his move to the club. He made his debut on 15 August 2009 in a 2–0 win over Burnley. Whitehead made a slow start to his Stoke career with a number of anonymous performances. However, following a 0–0 draw with Blackburn Rovers, he earned praise from manager Tony Pulis. Whitehead scored his first goal for Stoke when he converted winger Matthew Etherington's cross in the 86th minute in a 3–1 FA Cup fourth-round win over Arsenal on 24 January 2010. Whitehead was sent off by Mike Dean against Tottenham Hotspur in March 2010 a decision which drew heavy criticism from Tony Pulis and Matthew Etherington.
His first Premier League goal for Stoke came against Birmingham City on 9 November 2010 with Whitehead scoring the winning goal in a 3–2 win. He scored his second league goal for Stoke away to Manchester United on 4 January 2011, becoming the first Stoke player to score at Old Trafford since 1980. Towards the end of 2010–11, Whitehead lost his place in the starting eleven to a resurgent Glenn Whelan, making a number of cameo appearances from the bench. One of these came in the 2011 FA Cup Final against Manchester City.
Whitehead made his 100th appearance for Stoke on 3 November 2011 in a UEFA Europa League match against Maccabi Tel Aviv, scoring the first goal in a 2–1 victory. He played in 10 of Stoke's 12 European fixtures in 2011–12, and ended the season having played in 47 matches in total. He made a bad start to 2012–13, as on the opening day of the season away to Reading he conceded a 90th-minute penalty and was sent off after picking up a second yellow card. He remained back-up to Glenn Whelan for the remainder of the season being used mainly as a substitute. He was released by Stoke at the end of 2012–13.
Whitehead signed for Championship club Middlesbrough on 2 July 2013 on a two-year contract. Manager Tony Mowbray revealed that Whitehead's experience of gaining promotion from the Championship twice was the key reason in signing him. Whitehead played 38 times in 2013–14, as Middlesbrough finished in 12th position. Whitehead scored his first and what turned out to be only goal for the club in a 2–1 loss away to Derby County. In 2014–15, Middlesbrough reached the 2015 Championship play-off Final at Wembley Stadium, where they lost 2–0 to Norwich City. At the end of the season, Whitehead left Middlesbrough as manager Aitor Karanka could not guarantee him game time.
In June 2015, Whitehead signed for Championship club Huddersfield Town on a two-year contract. He made his debut for in a 2–0 defeat against Hull City at the KC Stadium on 8 August 2015. On 6 July 2017, Huddersfield announced that Whitehead had extended his contract with the club until the end of the 2017–18 Premier League season with manager David Wagner stating: "Even if he plays less for us, he is still a very important part of the team and our dressing room."
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Oxford United||1999–2000||Second Division||0||0||0||0||0||0||1[a]||0||1||0|
|Stoke City||2009–10||Premier League||36||0||4||1||0||0||—||40||1|