||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (October 2014)|
Hartson in 2007
|Full name||John Hartson|
|Date of birth||5 April 1975|
|Place of birth||Swansea, Wales|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|1997–1999||West Ham United||60||(24)|
|2006–2008||West Bromwich Albion||21||(5)|
|2007||→ Norwich City (loan)||4||(0)|
* 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 from 1992 until 2008 notably in the Scottish Premier League for Celtic and the Premier League for Arsenal and West Ham United. He was then the Wales national team forwards coach, until 6 November 2013. 
He also played in England's top flight for Wimbledon, Coventry City and West Bromwich Albion and in the Football League for Luton Town and Norwich City. Hartson also featured prominently for Wales, earning 51 caps and scoring 14 goals.
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. As a youngster Hartson represented Lonlas Boys' Club in Skewen, playing his first match aged six. 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.
Luton Town and Arsenal
Hartson turned professional in 1992 and made his first team debut as a substitute in a 1–0 League Cup defeat to Cambridge United on 24 August 1993. In January 1995 he joined Arsenal for £2.5 million, a British record fee for a teenage player at the time. He was one of George Graham's last signings before his sacking in February 1995, along with Chris Kiwomya. He made his Arsenal debut on 14 January 1995 and was a regular in his first season, the 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 by filling the gap left by the injured Alan Smith, who retired at the end of the season.
With the signing of Dennis Bergkamp, who was preferred up front to partner Ian 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, he made it clear Hartson was surplus to requirements and 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. It had initially been reported that the deal was worth £5million.
In total he had played 70 times (15 as substitute) for Arsenal, scoring 17 goals.
West Ham United
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. His first West Ham goal came in his next following game on 24 February 1997, a 4-3 home defeat of Tottenham Hotspur. 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. 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. 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. In a training ground incident in September 1998, Hartson kicked West Ham team-mate 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. Berkovic said of the incident "If my head had been a ball, it would have been in the top corner of the net".
His form suffered and he managed only four goals from twenty games in season 1998-99. 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.
For West Ham, Hartson scored 33 goals in 73 league and cup appearances for the east London club.
Wimbledon and Coventry City
He joined Wimbledon in January 1999, becoming the club's most expensive signing ever at £7.5m. 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, Tottenham 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.
In August 2001 he joined Celtic in a £6m transfer. 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.
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 team-mate 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."
West Bromwich Albion
On 26 June 2006, Hartson signed a two-year contract with English Football League Championship side West Bromwich Albion in a £500,000 move. Hartson scored twice on his Albion debut in a 2–0 Hawthorns win against Hull City on 5 August 2006.
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. 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. He then rejected an offer to join Chester City on loan. In January 2008 Hartson was released by West Bromwich Albion, six months before the end of his contract.
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.
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. 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.
Hartson retired from international football in February 2006 in order to concentrate on his career with Celtic but in August that year he stated that he would come out of retirement to play if John Toshack needed him.
Off the field
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." Hartson joined Setanta Sports as a pundit for the 2008–09 season, as part of the broadcaster's coverage of the Scottish Premier League. A Welsh speaker, Hartson appears regularly as a studio guest on S4C's Sgorio. 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.
In July 2009 Hartson received chemotherapy after being diagnosed with testicular cancer which had spread to his brain. It was later reported the cancer had spread to his lungs and that he remained in a "critical condition" following emergency surgery. 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. Hartson is a lifelong Swansea City supporter.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1992–93||Luton Town||First Division||0||0|
|West Ham United||11||5|
|2000–01||Coventry City||Premier League||12||6|
|Scotland||League||Scottish Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|2006–07||West Bromwich Albion||Championship||21||5|
|Wales national team|
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- John Hartson at National-Football-Teams.com