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 14:38, 16 August 2015 (UTC).
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. 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.
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. 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.
Further playing once for the club against Bayer Leverkusen, Chopra was loaned to second-tier club Watford for five matches on 25 March 2003. 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." In September of the same year, the BBC reported that Indian club Mohun Bagan were interested in signing him.
Failing to find a goal in the 2003–04 season, Newcastle loaned Chopra to Nottingham Forest in February 2004 for a month. Even there he failed to find the net, as he ended the season playing eleven times without scoring. At the start of the 2004–05 season, he was loaned for a month to League One club Barnsley in August. Making his debut against Hull City, 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. Scoring a total of five goals, his loan was extended in November till the end of the season. In the rest of the season, Chopra scored twelve times – including two hat-tricks, one against Peterborough and another against Huddersfield.
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, 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. 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. Nevertheless, he played in that match where he "slid home Charles N'Zogbia's cross at the far post". 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. In April, it was reported that Chopra's possibility of missing the rest of the season after being affected with mumps. Later in that season Chopra injured his knee ligaments, with his claiming it to be the "worst injury" he had ever had.
Becoming "frustated" owing to his failure 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. During the season, Chopra scored twenty two goals in forty four matches. 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. He was also featured in the PFA Team of the season.
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. 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.
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. Chopra made his debut against Queens Park Rangers playing the entire ninety minutes of the 1–0 defeat. In the next match against Crystal Palace, he found his first goal. Chopra converted a 31st-minute penalty the saw Cardiff winning the match 2–1. 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. 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. During his second loan spell at the club, he found the net four times.
Return to Cardiff
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. He scored in his debut, "claiming the first and third goals" in a 4–0 victory over Rotherham United. Chopra then would score consecutively in matches against Blackpool, Plymouth Argyle, Bristol City and Bristol Rovers. In the post match ceremony, manager Dave Jones commented "Chopra is on fire, he's scored seven goals already and he's shown he will get the goals if he gets the supply". Chopra scored a total of 21 goals which included a four-goal haul against Derby County with Sky Sports writing of Chopra destroying Derby. For a second time, he was included in the PFA Team of the Year.
After the season, Goal.com reported that Ipswich Town lodged a £ 3 million bid to secure Chopra's services. Though it was increased, he continued the next season with the club. In the 2010–11 season, he suffered a hamstring injury during a match against Barnsley ruling him out of action for "10 to 12 weeks". A statement released by the club hailed it as a "disappointing news" as they would prepare for the rest of their matches without one of their "potent attacking options". After his recovery, he came to action and also featured in both the legs of the Championship play-offs against Reading. In the second leg, he was near to scoring, only his shot to be deflected by Reading captain Matt Mills.
On 10 June 2011, Chopra penned a three-year deal with Ipswich Town signing for an undiclosed fee, which was reported by East Anglian Daily Times to be £1.5 million. Manager Paul Jewell revealed that he was the "type of player" the club was searching. After signing, Chopra said that he was "hungry" for goals. He started his Ipswich years with a "bang" scoring twice in his debut against Bristol City. He also found the net twice, each in his two games against his former club Cardiff City. He ended the season as the club's topscorer with 14 goals. However, Chopra had a lackluster second season with the club, where he scored five times in thirty six matches. Unhappy with his performance, manager Mick McCarthy said that he was nor in his plans for going "forward" and they were "free to look for another club". Nevertheless, he found the "winner" goal in the dying minutes of a match against Watford. Though he missed a couple of chance earlier in the match, he was successful in converting Carlos Edwards low cross in the last minute of the encounter.
Though he was close to sign for Barnsley, Chopra signed for Blackpool in July 2013. Wales Online wrote that he joined the club to regain his "goal touch". He said that the "Blackpool move" was a "fresh start" for him. He also expressed his confidence of scoring goals playing alongside the two wingers – Thomas Ince and Matt Phillips. In January of the following year, he was fined for a tweet in which he criticised the club's training schedules. During his time with the side, he made 20 appearances, but failed to score in any of them. Chopra later called his stay at the club "hard times".
In August 2014, Chopra confirmed his participation in the inaugural season of the Indian Super League. He said that he felt honoured to "involved in this new era". He was drafted by Kerala Blasters which was managed by David James. In an interview, he said that he felt honoured to "play for a team that is owned by Sachin Tendulkar". He made his debut in the first match against NorthEast United FC, coming as a substitute in a 1–0 defeat, with The Times of India commenting that he "looked sharp". His time in India was scrapped by an injury which he suffered in a training for a match against Atlético de Kolkata. Goal.com criticized him for his poor "fitness level" and wrote that he never "impressed in the competition and failed to find the back of the net". Nevertheless, he played the 120 minutes of the semifinal against Chennaiyin FC, and also started the final against the Kolkatan side where he "managed two shots on goal". He ended the season playing nine times without scoring.
On 17 March 2015, Chopra signed for Scottish Championship club Alloa Athletic for the rest of the season. On that very day, he made his debut against Rangers. On 2 May 2015 he scored his first goal for Alloa, when he scored from six yards out in a league match against Cowdenbeath. Four days later, he scored his second goal for the club, as he opened the scoring in a 2–0 victory against Brechin City in the relegation play-offs.
Born and raised 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, which 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.
- As of 20 May 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||8||1||0||0||0||0||—||4||2||12||3|
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