Robert Earnshaw

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Robert Earnshaw
Earnshaw playing for Wales in 2007
Personal information
Full name Robert Earnshaw[1]
Date of birth (1981-04-06) 6 April 1981 (age 37)
Place of birth Mufulira, Zambia
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)[2]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Fresno FC (assistant coach)
Youth career
1997–1998 Cardiff City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1998–2004 Cardiff City 183 (86)
2000 Greenock Morton (loan) 3 (2)
2004–2006 West Bromwich Albion 43 (12)
2006–2007 Norwich City 45 (27)
2007–2008 Derby County 22 (1)
2008–2011 Nottingham Forest 98 (35)
2011–2013 Cardiff City 19 (3)
2012–2013 Maccabi Tel Aviv (loan) 10 (2)
2013 Toronto FC 26 (8)
2014 Blackpool 1 (0)
2014 Chicago Fire 5 (3)
2015 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 9 (2)
2015 Whitecaps FC 2 (loan) 3 (2)
Total 466 (183)
National team
1998–2001 Wales U21 10 (1)
2002–2012 Wales 59 (16)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14:54, 11 October 2015 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15 August 2012

Robert Earnshaw (born 6 April 1981) is a Welsh former international footballer who played as a forward. He is the only player to have scored a hat-trick in the Premier League, all three divisions of the English Football League, the League Cup, the FA Cup, and for his country in an international match. He currently serves as assistant coach for United Soccer League side Fresno FC.

Born in Zambia and settled in South Wales, Earnshaw joined Cardiff City as a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) trainee in 1997, and turned professional a year later. He played for several English clubs before later in his career playing in Israel, Canada, and the United States. After leaving Cardiff City in 2004, Earnshaw's transfer fees totalled £12,650,000. He made his international debut for Wales in 2002 and scored 16 goals in 59 games for the country, making him their seventh-highest goalscorer of all time

Early life[edit]

Earnshaw was born on the outskirts of the Zambian mining town of Mufulira on 6 April 1981. When he was five, his family moved to Malawi where his father, David Earnshaw, took charge of another coal mine and his youngest son began school. Again, the family's stay was to be a short one. In September 1990, following the death of her husband, Rita moved the Earnshaw family to Bedwas, a small Welsh town.[3]

"It was the first time I had been away from Africa." he recalls. "It was just completely different, from one extreme to another. It was much colder as well, just every little thing was different, everyone spoke English over here and although I could speak a little bit I had to learn. But when you're a kid you just get on with it."[3]

It was in Wales that he began playing football, kicking a ball around with friends between and after classes at Cardinal Newman RC School, Pontypridd, the school he moved on to after a spell at St. Helen's Primary. Cardinal Newman's was a rugby union-playing school so Earnshaw's first organised football match came at the age of 12 with local youth side Llanbradach. "We didn't win anything, we weren't the best," he says. "I only played one year and then I moved to GE Wales, which was a better team and we won a few local titles. I scored a lot of goals, 80 one season, 60 another when I was 14, 15, 16."[3]

Club career[edit]

Cardiff City[edit]

Earnshaw in 2007

In 1997, Gavin Tait, then Cardiff City youth team coach, invited Earnshaw to training and, on 1 August, he signed a one-year YTS contract at Ninian Park.[3] He came through the club's youth development programme and became a full-time professional in August 2003, despite the attentions of his heroes Manchester United. He made his mark immediately with an equalising goal at Hartlepool United on the opening day of the season. Earnshaw was loaned to Greenock Morton by Frank Burrows to gain experience and toughen up, where he played three games in the Scottish Football League First Division and one Scottish Cup tie against Rangers. He also at one stage had a trial at Middlesbrough under Bryan Robson.

The experience gave Earnshaw the motivation to succeed and on his return he soon became one of the Bluebird fans' biggest heroes. He had already been capped by Wales at youth and under-21 level, but his exploits in Cardiff City's promotion campaigns attracted the attention of national coach Mark Hughes. Earnshaw duly exploded onto the international scene, scoring the winning goal on his debut for Wales against Germany at the Millennium Stadium in May 2002; he was also named man of the match.[4] A few months later Earnshaw was named Young Welsh Footballer of the Year, and was named in the PFA Division Two Team of the Year for 2002–03[5] after a prolific season saw him score 35 goals in all competitions, with 31 scored in the league meaning he broke the 56-year-old club record of Stan Richards.[6] Earnshaw became a key member of the Wales squad during the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign. He staked his claim for a regular slot in the starting line-up with a hat-trick in the 4–0 friendly win over Scotland in February 2004.[7] At the end of 2003–04, Earnshaw was named in the First Division team of the year.[8] Several top clubs including Manchester United, Liverpool and Celtic sent their scouts to look at Earnshaw as his reputation spread. He scored 105 goals in his 205 first team appearances for Cardiff City, including a plethora of hat-tricks in Divisions Two and Three, as well as the FA Cup and League Cup.[9]

West Bromwich Albion[edit]

In 2004 Earnshaw was transferred from Cardiff to West Bromwich Albion for £3 million, a fee that could have reached a maximum of £3.62 million with performance-related add-ons.[10] His agent Mel Eves was fined 30,000 Swiss francs (£12,250) by FIFA in July 2007 over his role in the transfer. Eves was found guilty of acting for both his client (Earnshaw) and the buying club (Albion) in the deal.[11]

Earnshaw made his Albion début in a 3–0 defeat at Liverpool on 11 September 2004, coming on as a second-half substitute but making little impact.[12] It took Earnshaw seven games to notch his first Albion goal, netting twice in the 2–2 draw at Southampton on 6 November 2004.[13] His first and only Premier League hat-trick came against Charlton Athletic on 19 March 2005[14] and was the first Premier League hat-trick scored by a West Bromwich Albion player.[15] Although key goals such as these helped the club retain their Premiership status, manager Bryan Robson preferred to use him from the bench as an impact player rather than as a starter. Nevertheless, Earnshaw finished as Albion's top goalscorer for that season with 14 goals, earning him the Ronnie Allen trophy.[16] He remained in the squad for 2005–06, albeit that West Brom signed several additional forwards including Diomansy Kamara and Nathan Ellington and competition was even more fierce. In December 2005, Earnshaw submitted two transfer requests, and both were rejected.[17][18] However, in January 2006 manager Bryan Robson said that Earnshaw would be allowed to leave, assuming there was a fair transfer fee on offer.[19]

Norwich City[edit]

On transfer deadline day, 31 January 2006, Earnshaw signed a three-and-a-half-year contract for Norwich City for a fee of £2.75 million (rising to £3.5 million).[20][21] He opened his Norwich goal scoring account with a brace, late on in Norwich's 3–0 home win against Brighton on 14 February 2006.[22] Earnshaw scored six more goals in the remaining matches of the 2005–06 season. By January 2007, Earnshaw was top-scorer in the division with 17 goals, but suffered a severe groin injury in training, that looked to have put him out of action for the rest of the season.[23] However, he returned to first team action in April 2007 to score his 18th and 19th goals of the season against Leicester City[24][25] and Sheffield Wednesday[26] respectively to cap off a truly remarkable recovery from the injury.

Derby County[edit]

Derby County broke their transfer record, previously held by the £3 million transfer of Seth Johnson from Crewe Alexandra, by signing Earnshaw from Norwich City for a fee of £3.5 million on 29 June 2007.[27] He made his debut for the Rams in a 2–2 draw against Portsmouth on 11 August 2007.[28] Earnshaw struggled to make an impact at Derby and was in and out of the side at the start of the season before being dropped. His first goal for the club came in a 4–1 FA Cup defeat to Preston North End on 26 January 2008,[29] by which time the man who signed him, Billy Davies, had left the club and been replaced by Paul Jewell. It wasn't until 28 April 2008 that he scored his first Premier League goal for the club, in the 6–2 home defeat to Arsenal.[30] In a torrid season, Earnshaw made just seven starts in his debut season at Derby, with a further 17 appearances as sub. He was left out of the squad for the final game of the season against Reading when it was revealed that Jewell had accepted a bid from two unspecified clubs[31] later revealed to be Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United,[32] bringing to an end what Earnshaw later stated was one of his worst seasons in football.

Nottingham Forest[edit]

Earnshaw in Forest colours, 2010

In May 2008, less than a year after signing for Derby, Earnshaw joined Nottingham Forest for £2.65m, signing a three-year deal.[33] He made his competitive debut in a 0–0 draw with Reading on 10 August 2008,[34] scoring his first competitive goals for Forest in their League Cup first-round tie at home to Morecambe, getting two on 13 August 2008.[35] Earnshaw's first League goal for Forest came in their 3–2 victory over Watford in the Championship, at the City Ground on 23 August 2008.[36][37][38] He scored his first hatrick for Nottingham Forest on 5 December 2009 in a 5–1 win over local rivals Leicester City.[39][40]

The 2010–11 season saw Earnshaw struggle to find his feet early on despite some good performances, scoring only one in thirteen matches. His scoring picked up though, and he scored six goals in the last twelve games. This included two goals in the 5–2 win against Derby County at the City Ground,[41][42] as well as the only goal in Forest's first ever victory at Pride Park Stadium against Derby.[43] Earnshaw scored Forest's only goal in the 3–1 loss to Swansea City in the away leg of their play off semi final, also hitting the post in the dying minutes of the game, which would have levelled the scoreline at 2–2.[44] In total he scored 43 goals in 111 appearances for Forest, making him one of their most successful strikers in recent years.[citation needed]

Return to Cardiff City[edit]

Earnshaw in action for Cardiff in 2011

On 6 July 2011, Earnshaw rejoined boyhood club Cardiff City on a free transfer,[9][45] following unsuccessful talks with Nottingham Forest regarding contract renewal. Earnshaw would become new Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay's fourth free transfer signing since joining the Bluebirds from Watford.

Earnshaw made his second Cardiff debut in a 1–0 win over West Ham United on 7 August.[46] Earnshaws' first goal since his return to the Bluebirds came the following Sunday in a 3–1 home victory over Bristol City in the Severnside derby. He scored his 200th career goal in a 1–1 draw with Burnley on 20 August, scoring the equaliser.[47]

A change of the system at Cardiff [clarification needed] and an off form Earnshaw saw him dropped to the bench to make way for Kenny Miller in a single man attack. Earnshaw made his first start since October in a 4–2 defeat to former club West Bromwich Albion on 7 January 2012, in which he scored. A league appearance didn't feature until two more months where he found himself coming off the bench against Hull City, in a 3–0 defeat. He would continue making substitute appearance for the BlueBirds, mostly featuring in the dying minutes of the game, up to the season's end. Cardiff City did make the play-offs getting beat 5–0 on aggregate by West Ham United, with Earnshaw making a brief appearance.[citation needed]

Maccabi Tel Aviv (loan)[edit]

On 20 September, after dropping down the pecking order at Cardiff, Earnshaw moved to Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv on a season-long loan, and was given the number 19 shirt.[48] After joining Maccabi Tel Aviv, Earnshaw believed joining the club would make him a better player once he returned to Cardiff City and said he had a chance to work with the club's Sports Director Jordi Cruyff.[49]

He made his club debut, coming on as substitute in a second half, in a 4–0 win over Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona on 24 September 2012, and after two appearance, he scored his first goal in a 2–1 win over Ashdod 2 weeks later. His second goal came three months later when he scored a winner in a 2–1 win over Maccabi Netanya. Earnshaw spent part of the 2012 Israel-Gaza conflict in Tel Aviv, during which he expressed his shock at the city coming under rocket fire saying, "I looked over at these guys who had many years’ service in the army. They knew exactly what was going on. One of them shouted that we had to take cover up by the side of the dressing rooms, so we just ran after them. Then we heard a loud bang of the Iron Dome – a new protection system used to intercept rockets. We then had to protect ourselves from all the shrapnel coming down".[50]

On returning to Cardiff, manager Malky Mackay deemed Earnshaw surplus to requirements in January 2013, announcing that he would leave the club.[51]


On 28 February 2013, Earnshaw confirmed he had left Cardiff City to join Canadian Major League Soccer club Toronto.[52] He made his debut two days later in a 1–0 away defeat to fellow Canadians Vancouver Whitecaps FC.[53] The following week on 9 March Earnshaw scored two goals and first for the club in a 2–1 home victory over Sporting Kansas City, helping earn new manager Ryan Nelsen his first coaching victory.[53] Earnshaw was awarded MLS player of the week for his two-goal performance, becoming the first Toronto player to be given the honour since Danny Koevermans the previous summer.[54]


On 21 March 2014, Earnshaw joined Championship side Blackpool on a short-term deal until the end of the 2013–14 season.[citation needed]

Chicago Fire[edit]

On 15 August 2014, Earnshaw returned to MLS, joining Chicago Fire on a free transfer.[55] Eight days later he scored his first goal for the Fire, heading in a Grant Ward cross in a 2–2 draw against his former club Toronto; a week later he made it two goals in two games when he headed in the only goal against Dallas at Chicago's Toyota Park.[56]

Vancouver Whitecaps[edit]

In February 2015, Earnshaw went on trial with Vancouver Whitecaps, playing in their 3–2 win over Stabæk.[57] On 25 March, the Whitecaps announced his signing.[58] Earnshaw made an immediate impact as a late substitute in his Whitecaps debut against the Portland Timbers three days later by scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute on his first touch of the ball.[59][60]

His second goal was scored as a stoppage time substitute, scoring off of his second touch of the ball in a 3–0 defeat of the Houston Dynamo.[61]

Earnshaw announced his retirement on 28 January 2016.[62] He was named head coach of the Vancouver U-14 Pre-Residency team.[63]

International career[edit]

Earnshaw (No.18) warming up for Wales, 2011

Earnshaw made his international debut at the Millennium Stadium on 14 May 2002, scoring the winning goal against Germany.[4] He represented Wales on 59 occasions over a decade, scoring a hat-trick for his country in a win against Scotland on 18 February 2004[7] and on 25 May 2011 captaining the side against the Scots at the Nations Cup.[64]

On 6 September 2011, in a Euro 2012 qualifier against England, he came on as a substitute with his team 1–0 down, and missed an 'open goal' from six yards, as England held on to win.[65] Unused since August 2012, in the following March, Earnshaw stated that he was still available for selection by the national side,[66] a message that he reiterated that October.[67]

International goals[edit]

As of 6 April 2017 [68]
Scores and results list Wales' goal tally first.
No Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 14 May 2002 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales  Germany 1–0 1–0 Friendly
2. 12 February 2003 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales  Bosnia and Herzegovina 1–1 2–2 Friendly
3. 11 October 2003 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales  Serbia and Montenegro 2–3 2–3 UEFA Euro 2004 qualification
4. 18 February 2004 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales  Scotland 1–0 4–0 Friendly
5. 2–0
6. 3–0
7. 31 May 2004 Ferenc Puskás Stadium, Budapest, Hungary  Hungary 2–1 2–1 Friendly
8. 8 September 2004 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales  Northern Ireland 2–2 2–2 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
9. 13 October 2004 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales  Poland 1–0 2–3 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
10. 27 May 2006 UPC-Arena, Graz, Austria  Trinidad and Tobago 1–1 2–1 Friendly
11. 2–1
12. 11 October 2006 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales  Cyprus 2–0 3–1 UEFA Euro 2008 qualification
13. 17 October 2007 San Marino Stadium, Serravalle, San Marino  San Marino 1–0 2–1 UEFA Euro 2008 qualification
14. 29 May 2009 Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli, Wales  Estonia 1–0 1–0 Friendly
15. 25 May 2011 Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland  Scotland 1–0 1–3 2011 Nations Cup
16. 27 May 2011 Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland  Northern Ireland 2–0 2–0 2011 Nations Cup

Coaching career[edit]

After working as a youth coach with the Vancouver Whitecaps,[69] on 30 January 2018, Earnshaw was announced as an assistant coach for United Soccer League side Fresno FC ahead of their inaugural season.[70]

Hat-trick record[edit]

He is the only player to have scored hat-tricks in the Premier League, Divisions 1, 2 and 3, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and in an international match.[71]

  • Premiership, West Bromwich Albion vs. Charlton, 19 March 2005[14]
  • Championship (Division 1), Cardiff vs. Gillingham (13 September 2003)[72] and Nottingham Forest vs. Leicester City (5 December 2009)[39]
  • League One (Division 2), Cardiff vs. QPR (29 November 2002)[73] and vs. Tranmere Rovers (14 March 2003)[74]
  • League Two (Division 3), Cardiff vs. Torquay United (2 December 2000)[75]
  • FA Cup, Cardiff vs. Bristol Rovers (19 November 2000)[76]
  • League Cup, Cardiff vs. Boston United (11 September 2002)[77] and vs. Leyton Orient (12 August 2003)[78]
  • International, Wales vs. Scotland (18 February 2004)[7]


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External links[edit]