Michael Chopra

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Michael Chopra
Michael Chopra - 2011.jpg
Chopra playing for Cardiff City in 2011.
Personal information
Full name Rocky Michael Chopra[1]
Date of birth (1983-12-23) 23 December 1983 (age 31)[1]
Place of birth Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Forward
Club information
Current team
Alloa Athletic
Number 25
Youth career
1993–2000 Newcastle United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2000–2006 Newcastle United 21 (1)
2003 Watford (loan) 5 (5)
2004 Nottingham Forest (loan) 5 (0)
2004–2005 Barnsley (loan) 39 (17)
2006–2007 Cardiff City 42 (22)
2007–2009 Sunderland 39 (8)
2008 Cardiff City (loan) 11 (5)
2009 Cardiff City (loan) 16 (4)
2009–2011 Cardiff City 73 (28)
2011–2013 Ipswich Town 78 (18)
2013–2014 Blackpool 18 (0)
2014 Kerala Blasters 9 (0)
2015– Alloa Athletic 8 (3)
National team
1997–1999 England U16 10 (0)
1999–2000 England U17 5 (0)
2000–2001 England U19 7 (0)
2001–2003 England U20 9 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 23:34, 2 May 2015 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

Rocky Michael Chopra (born 23 December 1983), known as Michael Chopra, is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Scottish Championship club Alloa Athletic.

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.

Club career[edit]

Newcastle United[edit]

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.[2] Being an unused substitute for Newcastle in a Premier League match against Charlton Athletic in October 2002, Chopra signed a three-year contract with the club on 30 October.[3]

Chopra made his professional debut on 6 November, at St James' Park against Everton in the League Cup. Coming as a substitute for Lomana LuaLua, he missed a penalty kick in the shootout, sending Everton to the round of 16.[4] He made his UEFA Champions League debut in December 2002 against Barcelona. Coming as a substitute for Lualua, in the final minutes of the match, Newcastle were handed a 3–1 defeat.[5]

Further playing once for the club against Bayer Leverkusen,[6] Chopra was loaned to second-tier club Watford for five matches on 25 March 2003.[7] During his short loan spell, he scored five goals in as many matches, which included his four goals against Burnley. Being behind Alan Shearer, Craig Bellamy, Shola Ameobi and Lualua in the pecking order, Watford manager Ray Lewington expressed his desire to re-sign him on loan for the next season. He said that Chopra "had an experience he wouldn't have believed a month ago having played in an FA Cup semi-final."[8] In September of the same year, BBC reported that Indian club Mohun Bagan were interested in signing him.[9]

Failing to find a goal in the 2003–04 season, Newcastle loaned Chopra to Nottingham Forest in February 2004 for a month.[10] Even there he failed to find the net, as he ended the season playing eleven times without scoring.[11] At the start of the 2004–05 season, he was loaned for a month to League One club Barnsley in August.[12] Making his debut against Hull City,[13] he would score his first goal for Barnsley against Hartlepool. Chopra "fired Barnsley ahead" to give them a lead, only to be equalized by Adam Boyd in the final minutes of the match.[14] Scoring a total of five goals, his loan was extended in November till the end of the season.[15] In the rest of the season, Chopra scored twelve times[16] - including two hat-tricks, one against Peterborough[17] and another against Huddersfield.[16]

In August 2004 he went on loan to League One club Barnsley for the entirety of the 2004–05 season.[18] He scored 17 goals in 42 appearances for Paul Hart's "Tykes", including hat-tricks against Peterborough United and Huddersfield Town.[19][20] New Barnsley boss Andy Ritchie intended to sign Chopra in the summer to play alongside Paul Hayes, but was unsuccessful.[21]

Chopra began the 2005–06 season back in Newcastle's first team, scoring his first senior goal for Newcastle in the 3–1 win away to Slovakian side Dubnica on 17 July in UEFA Intertoto Cup. Making his second ever start for Newcastle, he opened the scoring on the fourth minute of the match.[22] In the second leg of the match, he suffered concussion with Sky Sports reporting that he was "set to miss out" the next match against Spanish club Deportivo de La Coruna.[23] Nevertheless, he played in that match where he "slid home Charles N'Zogbia's cross at the far post".[24] In a Premier League match against Sunderland in April 2006, Chopra would score the fastest goal by a substitute – find the net after coming for fifteen seconds.[25][26] In April, it was reported that Chopra's possibility of missing the rest of the season after being affected with mumps.[27] Later in that season Chopra injured his knee ligaments, with his claiming it to be the "worst injury" he had ever had.[28]

Cardiff City[edit]

Becoming "frustated" owing to his failute to make an impact in Newcastle, Chopra signed for Cardiff City in June 2006 for £500,000. About the transfer, he commented that he "had shown" his "loyalty to the football club", hoping that they would reciprocate the same. He also said that he "would love" to return to Newcastle.[29] During the season, Chopra scored twenty two goals in forty four matches.[30] He helped the club to stay in the "top of the table" during the month of September, and earning the Championship Player of the month for September.[31] He was also featured in the PFA Team of the season.[32]

Sunderland[edit]

Chopra playing for Sunderland in 2007

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.[33] His Geordie roots and high price-tag caused unrest among some Sunderland fans.[34] 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.[35] He scored in the next game at Birmingham City,[36] but then went 15 games without scoring before he converted a penalty at Reading on 23 December.[37][38] He went on to score the only goal of a 1–0 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park,[39] before he scored his sixth and final goal of the season in Sunderland's 3–2 win over Tees–Wear derby rivals Middlesbrough,[40] finishing as the second highest scorer at the club, being just one goal behind Kenwyne Jones.[41] After missing the initial matches for "personal problems", he scored two goals in his second game of the 2008–09 season as Sunderland beat Middlesbrough 2–0 on 20 September.[42]

With the arrivals of Djibril Cisse and El-Hadji Diouf, Chopra found his playing time to be limited. So he rejoined Cardiff City in November on a two month loan.[43] Chopra made his debut against Queens Park Rangers playing the entire ninety minutes of the 1–0 defeat.[44] In the next match against Crystal Palace, he found his first goal. Chopra converted a 31rst minute penalty the saw Cardiff winning the match 2–1.[45] Scoring five goals his the spell, he was recalled from loan by the new Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia to the squad, with The Guardian writing that he was "excited" to return to the squad.[46] Chopra rejoined Cardiff on loan in February 2009 for the rest of the season, with the transfer becoming permanent at the end of the season. Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale said that Chopra was "over the moon" about the transfer.[47] During his second loan spell at the club, he found the net four times.[11]

Return to Cardiff[edit]

Chopra playing for Cardiff City in 2010

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.[48] 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.[49] 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.[50] 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.[51] 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.[52] 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.[53] 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.[54] 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.[55] 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.[56] 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.[57] After rejecting that bid, it was reported that Ipswich returned with an offer of £3.75 million which was also rejected.[58]

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.[59] 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.[60]

Ipswich Town[edit]

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.[61][62][63] On 6 August he made his league debut for Ipswich at Bristol City, scoring twice.[64] 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.

He had a less successful campaign at Portman Road in the 2012–13 season, scoring just five goals in 36 appearances, and was allowed to leave in the summer by manager Mick McCarthy.

Blackpool[edit]

In July 2013, Blackpool manager Paul Ince signed Chopra to a one-year deal.[65] Chopra was fined £10,000 on 7 January after he made critical remarks about a training session.[66] He had a poor 2013–14 season at Bloomfield Road, failing to score in 20 appearances for the "Tangerines".

Kerala Blasters[edit]

Chopra playing for Kerala Blasters FC in 2014

On 21 August 2014, Chopra was a first round pick in the Inaugural ISL International Draft, signing for Kerala Blasters.[67] 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".[68] 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.

Alloa Athletic[edit]

On 17 March 2015, Chopra signed for Alloa Athletic. On 5 April 2015, Chopra started for Alloa in the 2014–15 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, which they lost 4-0.[69] His first goal for 'The Wasps' came in a 3–0 victory over Cowdenbeath in the final game of the league season 2014–15, ensuring Alloa Athletic avoided automatic relegation and secured a play-off spot for the Clackmannanshire club. On 17 May 2015 Chopra helped Alloa overcome a 3-1 deficit to beat Forfar Athletic 3-0 in the second leg of the Scottish Championship play-off final to take the tie 4-3 on aggregate. Chopra opened the scoring in the second leg on the stroke of half time with a volley from outside the penalty area.

International career[edit]

Chopra has represented England at under-16, under-17, under-19 and under-20 levels. He played in the 2000 UEFA European Under-16 Championship and the 2002 UEFA European Under-19 Championship.[70][71]

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.[72] 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.[73]

Personal life[edit]

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.[74] In July, it was reported that the couple had split only weeks after their £250,000 wedding,[75] 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.[76][77] He was re-admitted to the same clinic for three weeks in October 2011.[76] In December 2011, Ipswich Town gave Chopra £250,000 to help pay off his gambling debts.[78]

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.[79] On 25 January 2013 he was found guilty of this offence and given a 10-year ban from racing by the BHA.[80]

Club statistics[edit]

As of 20 May 2015
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Newcastle United 2002–03[6] Premier League 1 0 0 0 1 0 2[a] 0 4 0
2003–04[11] Premier League 6 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
2004–05[16] Premier League 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2005–06[81] Premier League 13 1 2 1 2 0 3[b] 1 20 3
Total 21 1 2 1 3 0 5 1 31 3
Watford (loan) 2002–03[6] First Division 5 5 1 0 0 0 6 5
Nottingham Forest (loan) 2003–04[11] First Division 5 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
Barnsley (loan) 2004–05[16] League One 39 17 1 0 1 0 1[c] 0 42 17
Cardiff City 2006–07[30] Championship 42 22 2 0 0 0 44 22
Sunderland 2007–08[82] Premier League 33 6 0 0 1 0 34 6
2008–09[44] Premier League 6 2 1 0 1 0 8 2
Total 39 8 1 0 2 0 42 8
Cardiff City (loan) 2008–09[44] Championship 11 5 0 0 0 0 11 5
Cardiff City (loan) 2008–09[44] Championship 16 4 0 0 0 0 16 4
Cardiff City 2009–10[83] Championship 41 16 4 2 3 1 3[d] 2 51 21
2010–11[84] Championship 32 9 2 1 1 1 2[d] 0 37 11
Total 100 34 6 3 4 2 5 2 115 41
Ipswich Town 2011–12[85] Championship 45 14 1 0 0 0 46 14
2012–13[86] Championship 33 4 1 1 2 0 36 5
Total 78 18 2 1 2 0 82 19
Blackpool 2013–14[87] Championship 18 0 1 0 1 0 20 0
Kerala Blasters FC 2014[88] Indian Super League 9 0 9 0
Alloa Athletic 2014–15[88] Scottish Championship 8 1 0 0 0 0 4 2 12 3
Career total 363 106 16 5 13 2 5 1 10 4 407 118
  1. ^ Appearances in UEFA Champions League
  2. ^ Appearances in UEFA Intertoto Cup
  3. ^ Appearances in Football League Trophy
  4. ^ a b Appearances in Promotion Play-offs

Honours[edit]

Club

Winner 2014-15 Scottish Championship play-offs (with Alloa)

Individual

References[edit]

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External links[edit]