John Hartson

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For the English player, see John Harston.
John Hartson
Hartson, John.jpg
Hartson in 2007
Personal information
Full name John Hartson[1]
Date of birth (1975-04-05) 5 April 1975 (age 41)
Place of birth Swansea, Wales
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1995 Luton Town 54 (11)
1995–1997 Arsenal 54 (14)
1997–1999 West Ham United 60 (24)
1999–2001 Wimbledon 49 (19)
2001 Coventry City 12 (6)
2001–2006 Celtic 146 (88)
2006–2008 West Bromwich Albion 21 (5)
2007 Norwich City (loan) 4 (0)
Total 400 (167)
National team
Wales U21 9 (?)
1995–2005 Wales 51 (14)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

John Hartson (born 5 April 1975) is a Welsh former professional footballer who played as a striker most notably in the Scottish Premier League for Celtic. [2]

Hartson also featured in the Premier League with Arsenal and West Ham United as well. He also took part in England's top flight for Wimbledon, Coventry City and West Bromwich Albion and in the Football League for Luton Town and Norwich City. [2]

Hartson also earned 51 international caps for Wales, scoring 14 goals. After retiring from playing, he held the position of head coach for Wales's strikers.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

John Hartson was born on 5 April 1975 in Swansea, as the third of four children to Cyril and Diana Hartson. Cyril had also played football for local team Afan Lido. Hartson grew up in Talycoppa, Swansea, alongside his elder brother James, elder sister Hayley and younger sister Victoria.[4] As a youngster Hartson represented Lonlas Boys' Club in Skewen, playing his first match aged six.[5] He joined Luton Town's Youth Training Scheme at the age of sixteen but was suspended four months later for stealing a bank card from the son of a couple with whom he was lodging. He used the card to withdraw £50 in order to fund his gambling addiction. Hartson was suspended and sent home to Swansea but was reinstated by Luton shortly afterwards and allowed to resume his apprenticeship.[6]

Club career[edit]

Luton Town and Arsenal[edit]

Hartson turned professional in 1992 and made his Luton Town first team debut as a substitute in a 1–0 League Cup defeat to Cambridge United on 24 August 1993.[7] In January 1995, at 19, he joined Arsenal for £2.5 million, a British record fee for a teenage player at the time.[8] Along with Chris Kiwomya,[9] Hartson was one of George Graham's last signings before the manager's sacking in February 1995. He made his Arsenal debut on 14 January 1995, a 1-1 home draw with Everton, and scored his first goal for the club the following week, the only goal in a 1-0 away win at Coventry City. He was a regular for the remainder of his first season, a highlight of which was scoring Arsenal's 75th-minute equaliser in the 1995 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final against Real Zaragoza; however a last-minute goal from 40 yards by Nayim over David Seaman meant Arsenal lost the game 2–1. He was strike-partner to Ian Wright, being favoured ahead of Kevin Campbell to fill the gap left by the injured Alan Smith, who would retire at the end of the season.

Following the signing of Dennis Bergkamp, who was preferred up front to partner Wright, Hartson featured less under Graham's successors Bruce Rioch and Arsène Wenger. With Wenger angling for the signing of Nicolas Anelka in early 1997, Hartson was surplus to Arsenal's requirements. In February 1997, he was sold to West Ham United for £3.2 million. At the time, he was the most expensive player to be signed by West Ham.The deal was initially reported to be worth £5 million.

In total, Hartson played 71 times (15 as substitute) for Arsenal, scoring 17 goals.[9]

West Ham United[edit]

Hartson made his debut for West Ham on 15 February 1997 alongside another new signing, Paul Kitson. West Ham lost 1-0 to Derby County and Hartson was booked.[10] His first West Ham goal came in his next following game on 24 February 1997, a 4-3 home defeat of Tottenham Hotspur.[11] In his first season, he scored five league goals from eleven games and was instrumental in helping West Ham rise from 18th when he joined to a final league position for 1996-97 season of 12th.[12] The next season saw Hartson finish with 24 goals in 42 games in all competitions and as West Ham's top scorer, a considerable margin ahead of the next highest scorer, Eyal Berkovic with nine goals.[13] He was also the second highest scoring player, behind Andy Cole in the Premier League in this season. In the 1998 close season, Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards and assistant manager Brian Kidd expressed their desire for Hartson to sign for Manchester United to manager Alex Ferguson. However, Ferguson decided against making a bid for Hartson.[14] In a training ground incident in September 1998, Hartson kicked West Ham teammate Eyal Berkovic in the face, after the Israeli midfielder had punched Hartson in the leg as he attempted to help Berkovic to his feet. The incident was captured on camera. Hartson was fined and admitted in his biography that it was an error of judgement.[15] Berkovic said of the incident "If my head had been a ball, it would have been in the top corner of the net".[16]

His form suffered and he managed only four goals from twenty games in season 1998-99.[17] His final game on 13 January 1999, saw West Ham of the Premier League lose 1-0 in the FA Cup to his hometown club Swansea City from the fourth tier of English football.[18]

For West Ham, Hartson scored 33 goals in 73 league and cup appearances for the east London club.

Wimbledon and Coventry City[edit]

He joined Wimbledon in January 1999, becoming the club's most expensive signing ever at £7.5m.[19] His time with the Dons was marred by injury, though he still managed a respectable goal tally, first in the Premier League, then the First Division following the club's relegation in 2000. Proposed moves to Rangers,[20] Tottenham[20] and Charlton fell through due to doubts over the player's fitness. Hartson instead joined Coventry City on a pay-for-play deal in February 2001.[21]


John Hartson before kick-off at the John Kennedy testimonial match, 9 August 2011

In August 2001 he joined Celtic in a £6m transfer.[22] He played for the Scottish Premier League club for five seasons. In March 2004, he dropped out for the remainder of the football season for surgery to his back; however, he recovered in time for Wales' unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup.

In April 2005 he shared the Scottish PFA Players' Player of the Year award with Fernando Ricksen and a short time later in May he was voted the Scottish Football Writers' Association Player of the Year.

On 6 November 2005 Hartson scored his 100th goal for Celtic against Falkirk. He scored the only goal against Hearts, on 5 April 2006, (his 31st birthday) to clinch the title for Celtic.

Hartson was sent off on a number of occasions, one being a notable dismissal towards the end of an Old Firm derby, when he was sent-off for violent conduct along with Celtic teammate Johan Mjällby and Rangers player Fernando Ricksen. Hartson's dismissal was overturned on appeal.

In December 2002, Celtic defeated Celta Vigo in the first leg of a third round UEFA Cup tie 1-0. Celtic were beaten 2-1 in Vigo, thus progressing on the "away goals" rule to the next round due to John Hartson's turn and strike. This was the first time that Celtic had remained in European competition after Christmas since the 1970s. In March 2003, Celtic faced Liverpool in the UEFA Cup at the quarter final stage, with the first leg ending in a 1-1 draw in Glasgow. In the return leg at Anfield, John Hartson fired the club's goal of the season with a strike past Jerzy Dudek into the top corner from over 25 yards out. Celtic won this match 2-0, progressing to the semi-final, where they knocked out Boavista of Portugal to progress to the final. Unfortunately for John Hartson, after playing a major role in getting Celtic all the way through the tournament, most notably with his strikes in Liverpool and Vigo, as well as many assists, he was ruled out of the final through injury. Celtic were defeated 3-2 in the final after extra time by Jose Mourinho's FC Porto

Due to the close bond Hartson felt with both Celtic Football Club and their fans, he has a tattoo of a large Celtic crest on his upper arm with the words 'You'll Never Walk Alone' underneath in honour of the song which Celtic fans sing ahead of big games. After a picture of the tattoo appeared on the internet and many Celtic F.C. forums, Hartson tweeted that the tattoo was real and in honour of the support he had received from Celtic fans during his illness. The tweet read, "Yes my Celtic tattoo is real I had it done soon as I came out of hospital after the support I was given by the whole Celtic family."[23]

West Bromwich Albion[edit]

On 26 June 2006, Hartson signed a two-year contract with English Football League Championship side West Bromwich Albion in a £500,000 move.[24][25] Hartson scored twice on his Albion debut in a 2–0 Hawthorns win against Hull City on 5 August 2006.[26]

On 31 August 2007, The Times said that Hartson had signed for League One club Nottingham Forest on a loan move. On 5 September 2007, the Western Mail reported that Hartson had rejected a firm approach from Forest and was on the verge of signing for his hometown club Swansea City on loan. However the club quickly issued a statement on its website denying the striker was set to sign.

In October 2007 Hartson joined Norwich City on a month's loan.[27] Although Norwich had the option to extend the loan until 31 December, newly appointed manager Glenn Roeder decided to send Hartson back to the Midlands after the initial month period.[28] He then rejected an offer to join Chester City on loan.[29] In January 2008 Hartson was released by West Bromwich Albion, six months before the end of his contract.[30]

On 7 February 2008 Hartson announced his retirement from professional football citing his long term struggles with weight and fitness as major reasons for finishing his footballing career.[31]

International career[edit]

Hartson won 51 first team caps for Wales, scoring 14 goals. He is currently the 9th top scorer of all time for the international team.[citation needed] He also holds a record for the Wales U21 team by being one of only four people to have scored a hat-trick at that level alongside Craig Davies, Lee Jones and Ched Evans.[citation needed]

Hartson retired from international football in February 2006 in order to concentrate on his career with Celtic[32] but in August that year he stated that he would come out of retirement to play if John Toshack needed him.

Off the field[edit]

Just a few weeks after his retirement from playing, East Stirlingshire in the Scottish Football League Third Division offered Hartson the chance to succeed Gordon Wylde as manager, but Hartson rejected the opportunity, saying that, "the timing is just not right for me at the moment."[33] Hartson joined Setanta Sports as a pundit for the 2008–09 season, as part of the broadcaster's coverage of the Scottish Premier League.[34] A Welsh speaker, Hartson appears regularly as a studio guest on S4C's Sgorio.[35] He was also a regular pundit on ITV's coverage of the FA Cup until ITV lost the rights to the competition at the end of the 2013/14 season, and often appears on BBC Radio 5 Live's coverage of both Premier League and Champions League games as a match summariser. In 2011 Hartson was appointed part-time coach with Newport County.[36][37][38]

Personal life[edit]

In July 2009 Hartson received chemotherapy after being diagnosed with testicular cancer which had spread to his brain.[39] It was later reported the cancer had spread to his lungs and that he remained in a "critical condition" following emergency surgery.[40] The treatment was successful and by December of that year it was reported that the cancer had been virtually eradicated from Hartson's body although he would have more surgery and treatment to come.[41] Hartson is a lifelong Swansea City supporter.[42]

Career statistics[edit]


Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1992–93 Luton Town First Division 0 0
1993–94 34 6
1994–95 20 5
1994–95 Arsenal Premier League 15 7 0 0 0 0 7 1 22 8
1995–96 19 4 1 0 3 1 0 0 23 5
1996–97 19 3 2 1 3 0 2 0 26 4
West Ham United 11 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 5
1997–98 32 15 5 3 5 6 0 0 42 24
1998–99 17 4 2 0 1 0 0 0 20 4
Wimbledon 14 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 2
1999–00 16 9 1 0 3 0 0 0 20 9
2000–01 First Division 19 8 0 0 4 2 0 0 23 10
2000–01 Coventry City Premier League 12 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 6
Scotland League Scottish Cup League Cup Europe Total
2001–02 Celtic Premier League 31 19 3 2 3 3 5 0 42 24
2002–03 27 18 2 2 4 2 12 3 45 25
2003–04 15 8 1 1 0 0 7 1 23 10
2004–05 38 25 5 3 1 1 6 1 50 30
2005–06 35 18 1 0 3 1 2 1 41 20
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2006–07 West Bromwich Albion Championship 21 5 1 1 2 0 0 0 24 6
2007–08 Norwich City 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Total England 254 79 12 5 21 9 9 1 296 94
Scotland 146 88 12 8 11 7 32 6 201 109
Career total 400 167 24 13 32 16 41 7 497 203


Wales national team
Year Apps Goals
1995 4 0
1996 3 0
1997 4 1
1998 3 1
1999 4 0
2000 2 0
2001 6 4
2002 7 2
2003 7 3
2004 5 3
2005 6 0
Total 51 14


West Ham United


  1. ^ Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2008). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2008–09. Mainstream Publishing. p. 194. ISBN 978-1-84596-324-8. 
  2. ^ a b c "John Hartson: Profile". Sky Sports. 
  3. ^ "Coleman shrouded in uncertainty as Wales boss cancels press conference after assistant Hartson steps down". Daily Mail. London. 
  4. ^ Hartson, 27–31.
  5. ^ Hartson, 28.
  6. ^ Hartson, 44–48.
  7. ^ Hartson, 55.
  8. ^ Hartson, 89.
  9. ^ a b "John Hartson: Profile". Arsenal F.C. 
  10. ^ "Derby County v West Ham United, 15 February 1997". Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  11. ^ "West Ham 4-3 Tottenham". Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "West Ham United statistics". Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "Premier League 1997-98". Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  14. ^ "Ferguson: 21 that got away". men. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Hicks, Danny (11 October 1998). "Football: Hartson to be charged by FA". London: Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Carlisle, Jeff. Soccer's Most Wanted. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  17. ^ "Premier League 1998-99". Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  18. ^ "Game played on 13 Jan 1999". Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  19. ^ "Dons swoop for Hartson". BBC Sport. 1999-01-15. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  20. ^ a b "Hartson move collapses". BBC Sport. BBC. 31 August 2000. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  21. ^ "Coventry complete Hartson deal". BBC Sport. 2001-02-08. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  22. ^ "Celtic sign trio on deadline day". BBC Sport. 2001-08-02. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  23. ^ "JohnHartson10". Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  24. ^ "Hartson completes West Brom move". BBC Sport. 2006-06-26. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  25. ^ "Hartson hints at Wales comeback". BBC Sport. 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  26. ^ "West Brom 2-0 Hull". BBC Sport. 2006-08-05. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  27. ^ "Hartson moves to Norwich on loan". BBC Sport. 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  28. ^ "Hartson returns to Baggies". Norwich City F.C. 2007-11-08. Archived from the original on 2007-12-22. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  29. ^ "Hartson turns down Chester". 2007-11-22. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  30. ^ "Baggies pay up Hartson's contract". BBC Sport. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  31. ^ "Hartson brings career to an end". BBC Sport. 2008-02-07. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  32. ^ "Hartson retires from Wales duties". BBC Sport. 2006-02-06. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  33. ^ "Hartson rejects Shire manager job". BBC Sport. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  34. ^ "John Hartson". Setanta Sports. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  35. ^ "A Feast of Football on S4C". S4C. 2008-08-20. 
  36. ^ "John Hartson handed part-time coaching role at Conference side Newport County". London: 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2011-04-16. 
  37. ^ "You're a disgrace". The Sun. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  38. ^ "Rangers threw away title the day Kenny flew to Turkey". The Sun. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  39. ^ "Hartson facing cancer treatment". BBC News. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  40. ^ "Hartson told cancer also in lungs". BBC News. 2009-07-15. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  41. ^ "Ex-footballer John Hartson's relief at cancer news". BBC News. 2009-12-04. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  42. ^ "Swansea a 'special club' says John Hartson". BBC News. 2011-05-29. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  43. ^ "John Hartson". Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  44. ^ John Hartson at

External links[edit]