David Hirst (footballer)

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David Hirst
Personal information
Full name David Eric Hirst
Date of birth (1967-12-07) 7 December 1967 (age 46)
Place of birth Cudworth, Barnsley, Yorkshire, England
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1985–1986 Barnsley 28 (9)
1986–1997 Sheffield Wednesday 294 (106)
1997–2000 Southampton 30 (9)
Total 352 (124)
National team
1988–1989 England U21 7 (1)
1991–1992 England B 3 (2)
1991–1992 England 3 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

David Eric Hirst (born 7 December 1967) is an English former professional footballer, an exciting but injury prone striker who played for Sheffield Wednesday for much of his career. He was also capped three times at senior level for the England team.

Playing career[edit]

Barnsley[edit]

Born in Cudworth, near Barnsley, Hirst turned professional in 1985 with his local side, Barnsley. His debut season saw him score nine goals in 28 Second Division games.

Sheffield Wednesday[edit]

On 11 August 1986, he signed for Sheffield Wednesday. He was brought to Wednesday by then manager Howard Wilkinson, just before the start of the 1986–87 season. The fee was £250,000. The deal for "the Cudworth flyer" still sits in local folklore, with Hirst reputedly saying he wouldn’t sign for the Owls “for a golden pig” [1] but Barnsley’s financial troubles saw the young striker sold. His Owls debut came against Charlton Athletic which was the first game of the season as Wednesday began the season away in a 1–1 First Division draw on 23 August 1986. However the following week he made his Hillsborough debut as a substitute against Everton in front of over 33,000 and he scored within minutes of entering the field. He would go on to make 21 league appearances that season, scoring six goals. By 1988–89 he was firmly established in the first team. [1]

He became a firm favourite and eventually an idol who was hero worshipped by the Barmy Army, scoring 149 goals in 358 appearances during his eleven years at the club.[2] He was capped three times for England, and scored once. He played for Wednesday with his heart on his sleeve, as if giving 100% on the pitch was not enough for him. He even managed to score and keep a clean sheet in the same match, (a 2-0 victory over Manchester City in January 1990) after he replaced an injured Kevin Pressman in goal!

Hirst had many famous moments during his time at Hillsborough. In 1991, Hirst scored 32 goals as Wednesday were promoted back to the First Division at the first attempt, including a 4-goal haul against Hull City (a 5–1 win) on 1 September 1990. This form led to him being called up for the England B international against Switzerland, in which he scored both England goals in a 2–1 win. He was subsequently called into the full England squad for the tour of Australasia.

He made his international debut in the 1–0 win over Australia, but was replaced at half-time. He was named as a substitute in the next game against New Zealand. He came on at half-time and within three minutes of the restart he scored his first (and only) England goal. With Gary Lineker injured, he lined up with Alan Shearer against France at Wembley. Bryan Robson famously said that, “It’s not a question of who will replace Lineker, but who will partner David Hirst” and, at one point, this looked inevitable. After an impressive first half display, he seemed likely to be given the nod ahead of Shearer to partner Gary Lineker for the second period until Shearer put England ahead on the stroke of half-time. Shearer's international career was saved and it became Hirst's third and final England match. Although he was selected for more England squads, injuries kept him out of the team.

Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson tried six times to tempt Owls boss Trevor Francis to sell Hirst, but without success. Two of these occasions were in 1992. First, after a shortage of goals in the second half of the 1991–92 season had cost United the championship, Ferguson attempted to sign Hirst during the close season, but the offer was refused. In November, with United's title challenge flagging once again due to a shortage of goals, Ferguson offered the Owls £3million for Hirst, but the offer was rejected and United signed Eric Cantona instead.

In 1992 during a game at Highbury, a horrible tackle by Steve Bould left Hirst with a broken ankle. It was the start of his injury problems. He still scored in the game and managed 16 goals in 33 games. In the same season Hirst played in the Sheffield Wednesday team that reached both domestic Finals – they lost both to Arsenal, but Hirst scored Wednesday's equaliser in the FA Cup Final at Wembley in a 1–1 draw before Arsenal won the replay 2–1.

The injuries mounted up and from August 1993 to May 1995 he played just 25 games and scored five goals. After two more years at Hillsborough and the odd glimpses of form from Hirst, he was sold by manager David Pleat to Southampton after he had emerged fit once again returning to the Owls first team.

Southampton[edit]

His exit from the Owls came on 17 October 1997, when Southampton manager Dave Jones paid a club record £2million for his services. He made his debut the next day in a 1–0 home defeat by Blackburn Rovers in the league, and had a decent first season at The Dell, scoring nine times in 28 league games as the Saints finished 11th in the Premier League. Highlights of this season include scoring twice against Tottenham Hotspur in just his second appearance,[3] and scoring twice again as Southampton beat Liverpool at Anfield.[4] Hirst also scored the only goal as his side beat Leeds United 1-0 at Elland Road.[5]

However, his injury problems returned in the 1998–99 season and he played just twice – these games were the last of his career.[2] He retired from playing on 26 January 2000, at the age of 32, after being advised to do so by medical experts.[3]

Style of play[edit]

Hirst was often considered a rare breed of 'total striker' [6] and was blessed with pace, height, heading, strength, dribbling, creativity and being in the right place at the right time. Although predominantly left footed, he had an excellent right foot too and scored some spectacular goals from range with both feet.

Hirst previously held the record for the fastest recorded shot, hitting the bar at 114 mph against Arsenal at Highbury in September 1996.[7] The record stood for a little over ten years until it was surpassed by Ronny of Sporting Lisbon with a 131 mph shot in November 2006.[8]

Coaching career[edit]

He is a coach in the Sheffield Wednesday academy set up.[citation needed]

International goal[edit]

Scores and results list England's goal tally first.[9]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 8 June 1991 Athletic Park, Wellington  New Zealand 2–0 2–0 Friendly

Honours[edit]

Sheffield Wednesday

References[edit]

External links[edit]