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Robert Michael Rosario (born 4 March 1966) is an English retired footballer who played professionally for Norwich City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Coventry City and Nottingham Forest before playing and coaching in the United States. He played as a forward.
Norwich City FC
As a teenager, Rosario had unsuccessful trials with Tottenham Hotspur, Brentford FC and Watford FC. He played non-league football for Harrow Borough and Hillingdon Borough. Norwich City saw potential in the tall striker and he signed for the Canaries shortly before Christmas in 1983. He made his league debut on 7 April 1984 against Watford at Carrow Road, a match that Norwich won 6–1. His first goal for the club came on 21 April 1984 in a 2–2 draw against Stoke City. However, he struggled to command a regular first team place and in the 1985–86 season had a loan spell at Wolves where he scored 1 goal in his 2 appearances.
Although Rosario was far from being a prolific goalscorer for the Canaries – he would score just 29 goals in 161 appearances for the club – he was selected for the England under-21s in April 1987 and played in a match against Turkey. Rosario would win 3 further under-21 caps but effectively ended his chances of further caps when he and his Norwich teammate Dale Gordon broke curfew on an under-21 trip and went to a nightclub.
The highlight of Rosario's time at Carrow Road came on 9 September 1989 when the first of his two goals in a 4–4 draw against Southampton would later be voted 'Goal of the Season' by ITV. But his lack of goals meant that he was not a favourite with the Carrow Road crowd and when Coventry City manager Terry Butcher paid Norwich £600,000 for his services in March 1991 it was seen as good business by the majority of City fans.
Coventry and Nottingham Forest
Rosario struggled to make an impact with Coventry and scored just 8 goals in 59 games. He did not see eye to eye with Butcher's successor as manager – Bobby Gould – who for a while played Rosario in midfield. However, Rosario was a key provider of assists to the Coventry City attack of Peter Ndlovu and (after his arrival in November 1992) Micky Quinn. After Rosario was sold to Nottingham Forest for £400,000 on 2 March 1993, Coventry's goals dried up and they fell to 15th in the final table after spending much of the campaign in the top five.
Meanwhile, Rosario joined Nottingham Forest as manager Brian Clough made an attempt to guide Forest clear of relegation. It did not work, and Rosario would prove to be Clough's last signing. The night before Rosario was unveiled as a Forest player, the club announced that they had 'signed a well known Premier League player' to address their goalscoring problems. Rosario, unfortunately, was not the player that Forest supporters had in mind to meet what was required.
Rosario made 10 Premier League appearances, scoring one goal, as Forest finished bottom of the Premier League and Clough retired as manager after 18 years.
Frank Clark took over as manager of Forest and Rosario remained part of his plans for a Division One promotion challenge. He scored twice in 16 league games in 1993–94 and collected a Division One runners-up medal as Forest won promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt, though he was not a regular first team player as both of his preferred positions were regularly occupied by other players – Stan Collymore and Lee Glover in attack, and Steve Stone, Lars Bohinen and Neil Webb in midfield. His last appearance for Forest came in April 1994, as injuries took hold, and although he was fully fit for the 1995-96 season, he was no longer part of Clark's plans at the City Ground and left at the end of the season, signalling the end of his playing career by the age of 30.
While at Forest, Rosario scored 3 goals in 26 games before sustaining the knee injury that eventually forced him to retire from professional football in England. He attempted to resurrect his career in the United States and played for Carolina Dynamo (scoring 4 goals in 29 games) and Charleston Battery (23 games 0 goals) before returning to Carolina Dynamos as player-coach, scoring 3 goals in 21 games. Rosario has remained in the United States to pursue his coaching career, having obtained his A class coaching licence with the US Soccer Federation. He led the South Charlotte Soccer Association Gold '89 team, taking over in 2005 and leading them to a national championship in 2006.
Rosario had many of the physical attributes needed to be a successful striker – he was tall, powerful and well-built – but was never a regular goalscorer wherever he played and is typically not remembered with a great deal of fondness by supporters at the clubs where he played – Coventry City is certainly an exception, in this case while not a prolific scorer the team's ability to score disappeared with Rosario's knock downs. Others argue that his passing and first touch were not unreasonable and may have been better deployed in midfield.
- Canary Citizens by Mike Davage, John Eastwood, Kevin Platt, published by Jarrold Publishing, (2001), ISBN 0-7117-2020-7