Chopra playing for Cardiff City in 2011.
|Full name||Rocky Michael Chopra|
|Date of birth||23 December 1983|
|Place of birth||Newcastle upon Tyne, England|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|2003||→ Watford (loan)||5||(5)|
|2004||→ Nottingham Forest (loan)||5||(0)|
|2004–2005||→ Barnsley (loan)||39||(17)|
|2008||→ Cardiff City (loan)||11||(5)|
|2009||→ Cardiff City (loan)||16||(4)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:03, 17 March 2015 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
A product of the Newcastle United youth system, he spent six years at the club without managing to secure a regular first team place, instead spending time on loan at Watford, Nottingham Forest, and Barnsley. He was sold to Cardiff City for £500,000 in June 2006, and won a place on the PFA Team of the Year for his performances in the 2006–07 season. He then made a £5 million move to Premier League side Sunderland in July 2007, before returning to Cardiff on a loan deal that was made permanent in July 2009 for £3 million. He again was named on the PFA Team of the Year for the 2009–10 campaign, before being sold on to Ipswich Town for £1 million in June 2011. He joined Blackpool on a free transfer in July 2013, before moving to the Indian Super League with Kerala Blasters for the inaugural 2014 season.
He has represented England at the under-16, under-17, under-19 and under-20 levels. In 2006, he scored what was then the fastest goal by a substitute in Premier League history, scoring after being on the pitch for 15 seconds. With an Indian father, he was also the first player of Indian parentage to play and score in the Premier League. A gambling addict, during the peak of his football career he was in severe debt and had to seek professional help to overcome his addiction.
Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, Chopra attended Gosforth High School in Newcastle, and owing to his goal-scoring exploits there, and later with the Montagu Boys' Club, was recruited to the Newcastle United academy in July 1993. In the 2000–01 season, he scored 28 goals for the Newcastle Academy side that reached the FA Premier League Academy under-17 play-off final. In December 2000 he signed his professional contract with Newcastle. The next season, playing for the Academy Under-19 team, he scored 14 goals in the first nine games of the season, prompting a promotion to the Senior Reserves. He went on to score in the Northumberland Senior Cup final victory over Bedlington Terriers in September 2001. By the end of the 2001–02 season, he had made 17 appearances for the Reserves, scoring seven goals.
He scored nine goals in his first five games for the Under-19s and Reserves at the start of the 2002–03 season. In November he signed a new three-year deal with the club, and on 6 November, he made his senior debut at St James' Park against Everton in the League Cup, substituting Lomana LuaLua; the game ended 3–3 but Newcastle lost the penalty shootout, with Chopra missing his spot kick. He made his UEFA Champions League debut in December 2002, coming on as a substitute against Barcelona in a 3–1 defeat at the Camp Nou. He made a second Champions League appearance on 18 February, again replacing LuaLua in a 3–1 win over Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena. He left Newcastle on a month-long loan to First Division side Watford at the end of March 2003. He scored four goals in his second appearance for the "Hornets", in a 7–4 win over Burnley at Turf Moor. In total he scored five goals in just six matches at Vicarage Road, and his performance against Burnley won him a place in Ray Lewington's first eleven for the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Southampton. He made his Premier League debut for the "Magpies" in a 2–2 draw away to West Bromwich Albion on 11 May.
He failed to force his way into Bobby Robson's first team plans, and made only four appearances in the first half of the 2003–04 season. He was loaned to Nottingham Forest for a month in February 2004, and made five First Division appearances for Joe Kinnear's side.
In August 2004 he went on loan to League One club Barnsley for the entirety of the 2004–05 season. He scored 17 goals in 42 appearances for Paul Hart's "Tykes", including hat-tricks against Peterborough United and Huddersfield Town. New Barnsley boss Andy Ritchie intended to sign Chopra in the summer to play alongside Paul Hayes, but was unsuccessful.
Chopra began the 2005–06 season back in Newcastle's first team squad and played in early UEFA Intertoto Cup ties, scoring his first senior goal for Newcastle in the 3–1 win away to Slovakian side Dubnica on 17 July. He scored his second goal for the club on 28 January, in an FA Cup victory at Cheltenham Town. On 17 April, he scored his first Premier League goal in a 4–1 win against Sunderland in the 60th minute of the Tyne–Wear derby at the Stadium of Light; the goal was then the fastest in Premier League history, as Chopra had only been on the pitch for 15 seconds after coming on as a substitute.
In June 2006, Chopra joined Cardiff City for £500,000 after turning down a new one-year contract at Newcastle in favour of guaranteed first-team football. Chopra and Cardiff had an excellent start to the season, with 36 points from 17 games leaving Cardiff top of the Championship and Chopra, with five league goals was voted Championship player of the month for September. He scored his first Cardiff hat-trick on 27 January in a 3–2 victory against Leicester City; this was manager Dave Jones's 500th game in charge of the "Bluebirds". Chopra signed a contract extension with Cardiff in April, and was named to the PFA Championship Team of the Year. Although Cardiff dropped out of promotion contention, Chopra had a successful season, ending with 22 goals from 42 matches.
In July 2007, newly promoted Premier League side Sunderland agreed a deal worth up to £5 million, activating a release clause, to sign Chopra on a four-year contract. His Geordie roots and high price-tag caused unrest among some Sunderland fans. He scored on his debut for the "Black Cats" on the opening day of the 2007–08 season at the Stadium of Light, when Chopra came on as a substitute late in the second half and scored the winning goal against Tottenham Hotspur in injury time. He scored in the next game at Birmingham City, but then went 15 games without scoring before he converted a penalty at Reading on 23 December. He went on to score the only goal of a 1–0 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park, before he scored his sixth and final goal of the season in Sunderland's 3–2 win over Tees–Wear derby rivals Middlesbrough, finishing as the second highest scorer at the club, being just one goal behind Kenwyne Jones.
As he returned from suspension, he scored two goals in his first game of the 2008–09 season as Sunderland beat Middlesbrough 2–0 on 20 September. However he found that he was not a regular starter in manager Roy Keane's first team plans.
Return to Cardiff
On 6 November 2008, after several days of speculation, it was confirmed that Chopra had re-joined former club Cardiff City on a two-month loan deal, set to run until 31 December, due to hamstring injuries to the clubs two first choice strikers, Ross McCormack and Jay Bothroyd. He made his return to the Cardiff side just two days after his loan deal was completed, playing a full 90 minutes during a 1–0 away defeat against Queens Park Rangers. His first goal since returning to the club came just a week later in his second match, when he converted a penalty, which he had won himself, during a 2–1 victory over Crystal Palace, although he did miss a second penalty in the final minute of the match late into stoppage time. He made a total of 11 appearances for the club scoring five times, making his last appearance in a 1–0 win over Plymouth Argyle on 28 December. His loan spell officially came to an end on 31 December and, despite both Chopra and Cardiff hoping for an extension to the deal, recently appointed Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia stated that Chopra would be returning to Sunderland. However after spending one month back at Sunderland, he returned to Cardiff on the final day of the transfer window, with the deal being completed just 55 seconds before the transfer window closed. He made his third debut for Cardiff in a 2–2 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on 22 February, scoring the teams first goal of the game, and went on to score in two of the next three matches for the side, finishing the 2008–09 season with nine goals in 27 appearances.
Chopra completed a permanent move on 1 July following the opening of the transfer window for a fee of £3 million. The transfer smashed the club's transfer record which was previously held by the £1.75 million signing of Peter Thorne from Stoke City in 2001. On the opening day of the 2009–10 season, Chopra scored twice during a 4–0 win over Scunthorpe United, becoming the first player to score a competitive goal at Cardiff City Stadium. In the third league match of the season, he scored a hat-trick in Cardiff's 3–1 victory over Plymouth Argyle, his second hat-trick for the club. He played in his 200th career game against Sheffield Wednesday on 26 September, and in the following match scored four goals against Derby County in a 6–1 victory, taking his early season tally to 12 goals in 13 games. However after this he went on an 11 games without scoring before he ended this spell with a goal during a 1–1 draw with Bristol City in the third round of the FA Cup. He also scored for Cardiff at Stamford Bridge during a 4–1 loss to Premier League leaders Chelsea in the Fifth round of the FA Cup. On 3 April he scored his 49th and 50th goals for Cardiff in all competitions in the South Wales derby, giving Cardiff all three points after Swansea City took a 28th minute lead. Chopra finished the season with 21 goals in all competitions and was named in the 2009–10 Championship Team of the Year, along with team mate Peter Whittingham. He was also named as Cardiff City's Player of the Year. He scored in the eighth minute of the play-off Final at Wembley Stadium on in the 3–2 defeat to Blackpool. Two days later, Ipswich Town made a bid of £3 million for the striker, with their manager, Roy Keane having previously signed Chopra during a spell in charge of Sunderland. After rejecting that bid, it was reported that Ipswich returned with an offer of £3.75 million which was also rejected.
In Cardiff's third league match of the 2010–11 season, Chopra was injured in a tackle that put him out of action for around two months. He returned to the first team upon his recovery, and ended the campaign with 11 goals in 37 appearances. He played both legs of the play-off semi-final defeat to Reading.
In June 2011, Championship side Ipswich Town bought Chopra for £1 million, and he signed a three-year contract; though Roy Keane was no longer manager, new boss Paul Jewell had also maintained a keen interest in the striker.  On 6 August he made his league debut for Ipswich at Bristol City, scoring twice. He scored in both games against former club Cardiff City, and ended the 2011–12 season as the "Tractor Boys" top-scorer with 14 goals.
In July 2013, Blackpool manager Paul Ince signed Chopra to a one-year deal. Chopra was fined £10,000 on 7 January after he made critical remarks about a training session. He had a poor 2013–14 season at Bloomfield Road, failing to score in 20 appearances for the "Tangerines".
On 21 August 2014, Chopra was a first round pick in the Inaugural ISL International Draft, signing for Kerala Blasters. He came on as a substitute in their first match, a 1–0 defeat at NorthEast United on 13 October, and according to The Times of India, "looked sharp". Manager David James picked him in nine of 14 games, though he was not named in the squad for the final and failed to score a goal during his time at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Despite being born in England, Chopra is eligible to play for India through his father. In November 2010, Chopra entered into talks over acquiring an Indian passport in order to represent India in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. However, without an Indian passport, and the Indian government's refusal to change its stance on dual citizenship means Chopra cannot play for India without first renouncing his British citizenship. In August 2014, Chopra stated that he wanted to play for India at international level, and was willing to renounce his British citizenship to do so.
Chopra appeared in OK! magazine in October 2007 to announce he had become engaged to Heather Swan, and that they were expecting their first baby. On 15 February 2008, they welcomed a 6 lbs 10oz baby boy, Sebastian Rocco Thomas Chopra. In July, it was reported that the couple had split only weeks after their £250,000 wedding, but they later reconciled as she vowed to "stand by him" as he entered rehab for his gambling addiction, whihch included a spell at the Sporting Chance clinic. He was re-admitted to the same clinic for three weeks in October 2011. In December 2011, Ipswich Town gave Chopra £250,000 to help pay off his gambling debts.
On 4 October 2012, Chopra was one of three footballers among a group charged by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) over an investigation into "suspicious betting activity". The allegations focus on horses being laid to lose on betting exchanges. On 25 January 2013 he was found guilty of this offence and given a 10-year ban from racing by the BHA.
"I had loan sharks turning up at the training ground when I was at Ipswich. They came up to me and asked me for my autograph and said I better get myself into the club and get that money now. They said they knew what car I was driving and they would follow me until I paid them. They said they knew what school my little boy went to and where my parents lived and where I lived in Ipswich. I felt sick that I had put my family in that situation from my gambling."—Chopra's gambling problems led to acute financial problems and left him in debt to criminals.
- As of match played on 21 March 2015
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Continental||Other||Total|
|Newcastle United||2002–03||Premier League||1||0||0||0||1||0||2[a]||0||—||4||0|
|Watford (loan)||2002–03||First Division||5||5||1||0||0||0||—||—||6||5|
|Nottingham Forest (loan)||2003–04||First Division||5||0||0||0||0||0||—||—||5||0|
|Barnsley (loan)||2004–05||League One||39||17||1||0||1||0||—||1[c]||0||42||17|
|Cardiff City (loan)||2008–09||Championship||11||5||0||0||0||0||—||—||11||5|
|Cardiff City (loan)||2008–09||Championship||16||4||0||0||0||0||—||—||16||4|
|Kerala Blasters FC||2014||Indian Super League||9||0||—||—||—||—||9||0|
|Alloa Athletic||2014–15||Scottish Championship||2||0||0||0||0||0||—||—||2||0|
- Football League Championship Player of the Month: September 2006
- PFA Team of the Year (Championship): 2006–07, 2009–10
- Cardiff City F.C. Player of the Year: 2006–07
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