Michael Chopra playing for Cardiff City
|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 21:09, 20 February 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
Rocky Michael Chopra (born 23 December 1983) is an English footballer who plays for Football League Championship side Blackpool. Chopra plays as a striker. He was originally a product of the Newcastle United Youth system. In his career he has also played for Sunderland, Cardiff City and Ipswich Town, and has spent loan spells at Watford, Nottingham Forest and Barnsley. He has represented England at the Under-15, Under-16, Under-17, Under-18, Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 levels.
In 2006, Chopra made news for scoring 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.
Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, Chopra attended Alan Shearer's former school, 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 playoff 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. Then in October, Newcastle gave him a squad number. By the end of the season, he had made 17 appearances for the Reserves, scoring seven goals.
The 2002–03 season started well, with Chopra scoring nine goals in his first five games for the Under-19s and Reserves. In November he signed a new three-year deal with the club, and on 6 November, he made his senior debut 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, as a substitute against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, and also played against Bayer Leverkusen before he moved on a month-long loan to Watford at the end of March 2003. He scored five goals in just six matches for Watford, appeared in a FA Cup semifinal against Southampton, and scored four goals in a 7–4 win over Burnley.
The season ended on a positive note when he made his Premiership debut for Newcastle in the 2–2 draw away to West Bromwich Albion on 11 May 2003. He also represented England at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship.
In 2003–04 season, he played four games for Newcastle before being loaned to Nottingham Forest for a month in February 2004 where he played five games. Returning from the loan spell he played another two games for Newcastle.
In August 2004 he went on another loan, this time to Barnsley. Playing in 39 matches in the League One, he scored 17 goals, including hat-tricks against Peterborough United and Huddersfield Town. He also represented Barnsley in the FA Cup and the League Cup, finishing as the club's top scorer and their Player of the Season.
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 2005. On 17 April 2006 Chopra scored his first Premier League goal against Sunderland in the 60th minute of the Tyne-Wear derby, which ended 4–1. 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. This was his third and final goal for the club, having also scored in the FA Cup against Cheltenham Town.
On 14 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 seven league goals was voted Championship player of the month for September and October. Chopra scored his first Cardiff hat-trick on 27 January 2007 against Leicester City in a 3–2 victory.
Chopra signed a contract extension with Cardiff City on 5 April 2007, and was named to the PFA Championship Team of the Year on 22 April. Although Cardiff dropped out of promotion contention, Chopra had a successful season, ending with 22 goals from 42 matches.
On 13 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. This caused unrest among some Sunderland fans due to the seemingly high price-tag and his Geordie roots.
Chopra made his debut for Sunderland in their 1–0 win over League of Ireland side Bohemians. In this match Chopra missed an open goal and ran into his own team mate Dickson Etuhu. Chopra scored his first goal for Sunderland in a 4–0 friendly victory over Galway United. His first competitive goal for Sunderland came in his first competitive match for the club, and was the first goal of the 2007–08 Premier League season, when Chopra came on as a substitute late in the second half and scored the winning goal against Tottenham Hotspur in injury time with 13 seconds remaining on the clock. This led to many Sunderland fans chanting 'Chopra's one of us!' Chopra also scored in the second Premier League match of the season against Birmingham.
Chopra scored against Reading from the penalty spot on 23 December, sending Marcus Hahnemann the wrong way to end his goal drought. He scored a goal for Sunderland in their 1–0 win away to Aston Villa, making it their first away win in the Premier League since they defeated West Bromwich Albion in 2006. He scored his sixth and final of the season in Sunderland's 3–2 win over local 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 2008.
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, his first at home, 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.
Chopra made a total of 11 appearances for the club scoring 5 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 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 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.
Chopra played in his 200th career game against Sheffield Wednesday on 26 September 2009 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 game barren run which was eventually ended with a goal during a 1–1 draw with Bristol City in the third round of the FA Cup before making his 100th appearance for Cardiff one week later in the replay. He also scored for Cardiff at Stamford Bridge during a 4–1 loss to Premier League leaders Chelsea in the 5th 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.
Chopra scored in the eighth minute of the 2010 Football League Championship play-off Final on 22 May 2010 against Blackpool FC, ending up on the losing side>. 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 is believed Ipswich returned with an offer of £3.5 million which was also rejected. On 4 June 2010 it was reported that Ipswich had again upped their bid – this time a lot closer to Cardiff's asking price of £4 million.
Chopra scored in Cardiff's second League match, away at Derby County, before netting another against Burton Albion in the League Cup. In Cardiff's third match of the season, Chopra was injured in a tackle that put him out of action for around two months. He made his return on 16 October, against Bristol City. He got his first goal back from injury on 25 October away at Leeds United as Cardiff won 4–0 at Elland Road, before making it two goals in as many games as he scored the second goal in Cardiff's 3–1 win over Norwich.
Chopra went on to score three goals in five starts during the month of January, one of which the winning goal in a 2–1 home victory against promotion rivals Leeds United. He scored another at Premier League side Stoke City in the FA Cup third round. Chopra scored his 60th competitive goal for Cardiff against Watford, netting the second in a 4–2 home victory. His next goal came in a 1–1 draw at home to Burnley. Chopra suffered a fractured ankle during this match which left him sidelined for the top-of-the-table clash with Nottingham Forest; however, he battled on, despite the injury, in the following game against Leicester City in which he scored the opening goal in a 2–0 victory. This was his tenth goal of the season in all competitions. Chopra followed this up by once again scoring the opening goal in a 2–0 Cardiff victory, at the KC Stadium versus Hull City, making it the third consecutive game in which he scored, and his sixth in his last 9 appearances.
Despite being born in England, Chopra is eligible to play for India through his father. In 2007, Zesh Rehman caused some controversy when in an interview with the British weekly newspaper the Eastern Eye he said that players of Asian descent should consider sticking to their roots rather than dreaming of playing for England. Rehman pointed to Michael Chopra, then with Cardiff City, who had been overlooked to play for England despite being the top scorer in the Championship, yet David Nugent, who was then at fellow Championship club Preston North End, was picked. Rehman claimed "Why wasn’t (Chopra) picked ahead of Dave Nugent? He’s the top goal scorer in the Championship but he can’t get in (the England set-up). So he needs to maybe look at his decision and go play for India instead of hanging on to the dream of playing for England, because it’s not going to happen, end of discussion."
In November 2010, Chopra entered into talks over acquiring an Indian passport in order to represent India in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Ultimately, he was not allowed to play in the tournament, but he hoped to play for India at a later date. He was named in the Indian squad that was to face Qatar in a friendly in July 2011. However, without an Indian passport he was not on the team, and the Indian's government refusal to change its stance on dual citizenship means Chopra will probably never don an India jersey.
Chopra appeared in OK! magazine in the UK in October 2007 announced 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.
On 28 August 2008, it was announced that he had checked into a rehabilitation clinic including some time at the Sporting Chance clinic. He was re-admitted to the same clinic for three weeks in October 2011. On 14 December 2011 it was announced that Ipswich Town had given Chopra £250,000 to help pay off his gambling debts.
Chopra was also banned from driving for 56 days by Chelmsford magistrates in December 2011, for an offence which took place on the A12 at Colchester on 13 September. Chopra appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court later and was given a six-month driving disqualification and ordered to pay a fine of £400.
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 British Horseracing Authority.
Speaking as a witness in a £750,000 cocaine trial on 28 November 2013, Chopra revealed that he started gambling when he was 17 when he first broke through with Newcastle. Chopra estimated he has lost as much as £2 million because of his gambling addiction.
Chopra was fined £10,000 on 7 January 2014 after he made remarks about a training session. 
- As of 2 October 2013
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|2002–03||Newcastle United||Premier League||1||0||0||0||1||0||2||0||4||0|
|2003–04||Newcastle United||Premier League||6||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||6||0|
|Nottingham Forest||First Division||5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||0|
|2004–05||Newcastle United||Premier League||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|2005–06||Newcastle United||Premier League||13||1||2||1||2||0||1||1||17||3|
- PFA Championship team of the year: 2
- 2006–07 2009–10
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- "Rooney is PFA player of the year". BBC Sport. 26 April 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- Fletcher, Paul (22 May 2010). "Blackpool 3–2 Cardiff". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
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- "Ipswich increase bid for Cardiff striker". Daily Mirror. 5 June 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
- "Ipswich bid for Cardiff striker Michael Chopra,". BBC Sport. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
- "Cheap as Chops". greenun24.co.uk. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Chopra at Portman Road Today". TWTD.co.uk. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
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- "Michael Chopra Indian team dream ends". Sports Keeda. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
- Ford, Coreena (17 February 2008). "Late debut by striker’s son". Sunday Sun. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Heather Swan and Michael Chopra split after one month of marriage". Mirriorfootball.co.uk. 16 July 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Ipswich Town striker Michael Chopra checks into gambling clinic". BBC News. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
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- "Ipswich Town gave Michael Chopra £250,000 gambling loan". BBC News. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
- "Footballers charged over horse racing betting". BBC Sport. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "Footballers Chopra, Coppinger & Wilson banned from horse racing". BBC Sport. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Newcastle players gambled on team bus as 'part of team bonding'". inside World Soccer. 29 November 2013.
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- "Michael Chopra". ESPNsoccernet. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
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- Michael Chopra career stats at Soccerbase
- BBC Profile as a Newcastle player
- News story on official The Football Association website