Gary Roberts (footballer born 1987)

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Gary Roberts
Gazroberts.JPG
Roberts as a Port Vale player (September 2010).
Personal information
Full name Gary Steven Roberts[1]
Date of birth (1987-02-02) 2 February 1987 (age 27)[2]
Place of birth Chester, England[3]
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)[2]
Playing position Deep-lying playmaker
Club information
Current team
Gap Connah's Quay
Youth career
1997–2003 Crewe Alexandra
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2003–2009 Crewe Alexandra 122 (11)
2008 Yeovil Town (loan) 17 (1)
2009 Yeovil Town 13 (1)
2009–2010 Rotherham United 13 (3)
2010–2011 Port Vale 46 (6)
2012–2013 Mansfield Town 27 (3)
2013 Floriana (loan) 13 (2)
2014– Gap Connah's Quay
National team
2002–2003 England U16 6 (0)
2004 England U17 6 (0)
2005 England U18 1 (0)
2005–2006 England U19 7 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 00:00, 6 January 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).

Gary Steven Roberts (born 2 February 1987) is an English footballer who plays for Gap Connah's Quay in the Welsh Premier League. A deep-lying playmaker, he has been praised for his vision and ball distribution skills.[4] However off the field he has struggled to control drink and gambling problems.

He started his career with Crewe Alexandra in 2003, and made 133 league and cup appearances over the next five years. In 2008 he had a loan spell at Yeovil Town, before he joined the club permanently the following year. He signed with Rotherham United in November 2009, having impressed on trial, before he was released in summer 2010. Crewe, Yeovil and Rotherham all cited disciplinary problems as their reason for letting him go. He joined Port Vale in July 2010, having been handed a 'last chance' by manager Micky Adams. His contract was terminated in December 2011, again due to a disciplinary issue, and he signed with Mansfield Town. In January 2013 he joined Maltese club Floriana on loan. He spent a short period out of the game before he joined Welsh Premier League side Gap Connah's Quay in January 2014.

In addition to his domestic career, he has also represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-19 levels.

Club career[edit]

Crewe Alexandra[edit]

Roberts signed as a professional with Dario Gradi's Crewe Alexandra in 2004, on his 17th birthday, a few months after making his First Division debut for the club in a 3–1 win over Burnley on 26 December 2003.[5] He later made a second appearance for the club against Wimbledon. He played a key part in the club's FA Youth Cup team which reached the semi-finals in 2004.[6] However he missed much of the 2004–05 season with a serious knee injury,[7] only returning to first team action for games against Sheffield United and West Ham United in March 2005.

Roberts established himself in the Crewe first team in the 2005–06 season, making 33 Championship appearances and scoring two goals – against Millwall and Hull City. At the end of the season the club were relegated into League One, though Roberts was still given a new three-year contract, tying himself to the club until 2009.[5]

Roberts became a key player in Crewe's bid for promotion in the 2006–07 season, playing mostly as a midfielder. He made nineteen appearances during the season, scoring three goals – against Swansea City, Nottingham Forest and Yeovil Town. The first two goals came from the penalty spot, as he built his reputation as a solid penalty taker. He also received the first red card of his professional career in October 2006, in a defeat at Bristol City.[8] He was dismissed for violent conduct after a challenge on Louis Carey, though the referee's decision was reported as 'harsh' and 'strange' by the Bristol City website.[9] That red card was the only sending off, and subsequent suspension, of the season for Crewe, as the club was awarded the 'Bobby Moore Fair Play award for outstanding conduct and discipline throughout the season'.[10]

He scored the opening two goals of the 2007–08 season, in a 2–1 win over Brighton at the Alexandra Stadium.[11] This led to him being named on the League One 'Team of the Week'.[12] In 2007–08 his club once again had the best disciplinary record in the Football League.[13] Once again Roberts received the only Crewe suspension and red card of the season, when he was given a second yellow card in a heavy defeat to Doncaster Rovers. He received four yellow cards in the season, all of which were for unsporting behaviour. His disciplinary problems off the pitch also first began to come to light, as he was left out of the squad for the March 2008 match with Nottingham Forest due to a "training ground incident".[14] In June 2008 Roberts was placed on the transfer list by Crewe.[15][16] Cardiff City were rumoured to be interested in signing Roberts,[17] a fee of £150,000 was mentioned,[18] but a transfer never materialised. Instead he trained alone all summer before being given another chance by Crewe boss Steve Holland.[19] However he failed to turn up at the club for pre-season training.[20]

Yeovil Town[edit]

Roberts joined Yeovil Town on loan, initially for a four-month spell, in August 2008.[21] After impressing during his loan spell at Huish Park, Roberts completed a permanent transfer to Yeovil for a nominal fee on 31 October 2008, with the deal officially going through on 1 January 2009.[22] Roberts played 34 games for Yeovil during the 2008–09 season, scoring two goals. In his final game for Yeovil against Cheltenham Town he was sent-off.[23] His girlfriend left him in May 2009, and Roberts was forced to move back in with his parents in Chester.[24] On 5 August 2009, Roberts was suspended by Yeovil Town for a breach of club discipline and was released by mutual consent after reported drink and gambling problems,[25] the final straw coming when he "turned up at a club-organised family fun day with the stench of alcohol on his breath".[24] He later admitted his heart was not at the club, and that being alone in a hotel room away from his girlfriend and young son made it easier for him to turn to alcohol.[24]

Rotherham United[edit]

After he admitted to suffering from drink and gambling addictions he visited the Sporting Chance clinic, determined to turn his life around.[24] After his rehabilitation, he was originally offered a trial with League One side Brighton & Hove Albion, where he scored two goals in two reserve team games against Brentford and Leyton Orient. He left without an offer of a contract, but was offered another trial with League Two side Rotherham United, where he played in a reserves victory over Huddersfield Town.[26][27] On 12 November, Roberts was offered a contract with the "Millers". Manager Ronnie Moore commented: "He's only 22 but has real talent... people say he comes with baggage but his attitude has been first class. I think he deserves a second chance."[28] Later in the month Roberts signed a one month contract.[29] The following month the option to extend Roberts' Rotherham deal until the end of the 2009–10 season was taken.[30] In his fifth appearance for Rotherham, a 4–2 win over Yorkshire rivals Bradford City, he scored his first goal for the club in 'sensational' fashion by finding the net with a free kick from fifty yards out.[31] However in April 2010 it was announced he had been sacked from Rotherham for breaking club discipline rules several times.[32] The club did not divulge what the final breach was; though the "bitterly disappointed" manager said that while the player was "full of remorse" his teammates would not be "too sorry to see him go".[4]

Roberts at Vale Park in September 2010, just after scoring his first goal for Port Vale against Aldershot Town.

Port Vale[edit]

He received interest from Micky Adams' Port Vale,[33] and joined the club on trial in July 2010.[34] Acknowledging "it's a last-chance saloon", Roberts said "I've learnt just not to be a plonker for all my life."[35] He joined the team on their July pre-season trip to Ireland, as Adams, already convinced of the player's talents, wanted to test Roberts' ability to stay away from his off-the-field demons.[36] Roberts seemed to enjoy a good start to his Vale career, and after Adams' typically relentless pre-season fitness regime he claimed "I've turned the corner...I think I've got my act together but I've just got to keep living each day as it comes and as long as I wake up clean that's all that I need".[37] He signed a six-month contract at the end of the month.[38] He started the season well, maintaining discipline off the pitch, and his first team place on it,[39] forging a midfield partnership with Anthony Griffith.[40] As early as September he entered negotiations with the club to extend his contract,[41][42] and Roberts quickly signed an extended contract to keep him at the club until the end of the season.[43] However Micky Adams left the club in December 2010, and Roberts did not enjoy a happy relationship with new manager Jim Gannon. Gannon dropped him to the bench after Roberts admitted he did not enjoy playing in a more advanced position; Vale fans showed their support for the player by chanting his name throughout a 1–0 win over Rotherham.[44] He then picked up a three-match ban after receiving a red card for violent conduct in a reserve match against Nottingham Forest.[45] Gannon defended Roberts, believing the player was unlucky to be dismissed after he responded to a 'reckless' challenge by David Morgan by shoving Morgan to the ground.[46] In March, speculation that he would leave Vale Park at the end of the season (or earlier) increased, as it was reported by BBC Radio Stoke that the club had informed the player he could leave on loan.[47] However Gannon denied this on the club's website, stating that there was "no substance" to the report.[48] In fact he went on to say "he has a huge part to play" in the club's promotion campaign.[49] His teammates also showed their support for him by celebrating goals with Roberts' celebration style during his absence;[50] club captain Marc Richards also dedicated his two goals against Shrewsbury Town to Roberts.[51] Gannon's reign was quickly terminated, but Roberts still struggled to regain his form under caretaker-manager Mark Grew.[52]

He signed a new one-year deal with Vale in July 2011, after Micky Adams returned to the club as manager.[53][54] After scoring five goals in his first nine games he admitted that "He [Adams] is the only manager that can control me so I think he gets the best out of me."[55] However on 19 September he was given a fourteen-day suspension by the club for 'a serious breach of club discipline', after he missed a day of training without any warning and then 'reported in unfit to carry out his duties' the following day; Adams said "I'm bitterly disappointed in him."[56][57] He was also placed on the transfer list,[58] as Adams stated "he's got a lot to do" before Roberts could think about a return to the first team.[59] He made his return on 24 October, when Adams named him on the bench for a league clash with Bristol Rovers.[60]

"It is something we'll have a look at ... but the slate can never be wiped clean. It's like me catching my wife having an affair, isn't it? I might forgive her, but it will still be in the back of my mind. And if she does it again, then that's the end because we're getting divorced. Gary's in the same situation in that if he commits one more misdemeanour we'll sack him."

—In October 2011, Micky Adams confirmed that though he had forgiven Roberts, the player remained transfer listed.[61]

Limited to a further two starts and two substitute appearances, on 28 December the club confirmed that Roberts was under investigation for what it described as a "serious breach of club discipline".[62] Earlier in the day he had turned up to training again "in an unfit state to train", in what Micky Adams hinted was an attempt to force through a move to Mansfield Town.[63] Two days later his contract was terminated with immediate effect.[64]

Mansfield Town[edit]

Roberts signed an eighteen month contract with Conference National club Mansfield Town on 1 January 2012.[65] He made his debut on the same day, in a 2–2 draw at York City.[66] He scored his first goals for the "Stags" on 28 January, in a 3–0 win over Ebbsfleet United at Stonebridge Road; after the game manager Paul Cox admitted that Roberts was too good a player for the Conference.[67] Mansfield finished in third place at the end of the season, and qualified for the play-offs, losing to York City at the semi-final stage.[68]

He played seven games at the start of the 2012–13 season, but was then sidelined with an ankle injury in September.[69] After his recovery he disappointed in three league games and was dropped from the first team, with manager Paul Cox saying that Roberts would have to show "hunger and desire" to win back his place.[70] However he was sent off in a "humiliating" FA Trophy First Round defeat to Matlock Town.[71] In January 2013, he joined Maltese Premier League side Floriana on loan until the end of the season.[72] The "Greens" finished in the relegation grouping at the end of the 2012–13 season, but led the group after ten matches and remained in the top-flight. Roberts made 14 appearances for the club, and scored two goals in a 2–1 win over Rabat Ajax.[73] In May 2013, Mansfield announced that they would not be offering Roberts a new contract in the summer.[74]

Gap Connah's Quay[edit]

On 6 January 2014, Roberts joined Welsh Premier League side Gap Connah's Quay.[75] The "Nomads" finished tenth in 2013–14.

International career[edit]

Roberts has played for England at under-16,[76] under-17, under-18,[77] and under-19 levels.[5]

He was in the England squad for the 2004 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship. He played in all the matches, as England topped their group with a 2–0 win over Ukraine, a 3–1 win over Portugal, and a 1–0 victory over Austria. The team were eliminated at the semi-final stage by a Cesc Fàbregas penalty for Spain. He was sent off in the Third Place play-off against Portugal, as the team went on to lose in a penalty shootout.[78]

He captained England under-18s in a goalless draw with Norway at Vale Park on 10 June 2005.[79]

On 20 May 2006, Roberts scored the winning goal as the England under-19's beat Northern Ireland under-19's 2–1 in a UEFA European Under-19 Championship elite qualification game in Belgium.[80] He also played in the 2–1 defeat to Belgium,[81] and 1–0 loss to Serbia and Montenegro;[82] as England finished a disappointing last place in their group, failing to qualify for the tournament.

Style of play[edit]

"Gary stands out because he's got that range of passing, vision and still has that edge on the tackling side. He needs somebody around him who can maybe do the uglier things..."

Port Vale's Anthony Griffith speaking of his midfield partner in July 2010.[83]

His manager at Rotherham, Ronnie Moore, also stated that Roberts has "talent and his passing ability is absolutely brilliant".[4] The Crewe Alexandra website described him as "a combative, all action midfield player who also has a keen eye for a goal".[84] However he has poor discipline, and has picked up many bookings over the course of his career.[85]

Personal life[edit]

Roberts has a son, born around 2005.[24] He was born and raised in an area of Chester he describes as "one of the roughest council estates in the country"; he still resides there as of 2011.[86]

Roberts has attended the Sporting Chance clinic for treatment of the drink and gambling problems which have dogged and severely damaged his football career; speaking of it all Roberts has said "I really can't believe what's happened to me. What's happened to my life."[87] He has put his addiction problems down to "boredom".[24] He also said that "I'm not one of these people who can have one drink and stop. I want another and another and another."[24] His drink problems began after he developed a gambling habit in 2007.[24] His addiction to betting on horse racing cost him £3,000 a month, and left him asking friends and family for money.[24]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 6 May 2013.
Season Club Division League FA Cup League Cup Other[88] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
2003–04[89] Crewe Alexandra First Division 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
2004–05[90] Championship 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
2005–06[91] 33 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 34 2
2006–07[92] League One 43 3 1 0 1 0 5 0 50 3
2007–08[93] 42 6 2 0 1 0 0 0 45 6
Total 122 11 4 0 2 0 5 0 133 11
2008–09[94] Yeovil Town League One 30 2 2 0 1 0 1 0 34 2
Total 30 2 2 0 1 0 1 0 34 2
2009–10[95] Rotherham United League Two 13 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 15 3
Total 13 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 15 3
2010–11[96] Port Vale League Two 35 2 4 0 2 0 2 0 43 2
2011–12[97] 11 4 2 0 1 1 1 0 15 5
Total 46 6 6 0 3 1 3 0 58 7
2011–12[97] Mansfield Town Conference National 17 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 19 3
2012–13[98] 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 11 0
2012–13[99] Floriana (loan) Maltese Premier League 13 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 14 2
Total 27 3 0 0 0 0 3 0 30 3
Career total 251 27 14 0 6 1 13 0 284 28

References[edit]

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  3. ^ Gary Roberts career stats at Soccerbase
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  88. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the Football League Trophy, FA Trophy, play-offs, and Maltese FA Trophy.
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  90. ^ "Games played by Gary Roberts in 2004/2005". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  91. ^ "Games played by Gary Roberts in 2005/2006". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  92. ^ "Games played by Gary Roberts in 2006/2007". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  93. ^ "Games played by Gary Roberts in 2007/2008". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  94. ^ "Games played by Gary Roberts in 2008/2009". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
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  98. ^ "Games played by Gary Roberts in 2012/2013". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
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External links[edit]