Robert Earnshaw

Robert Earnshaw was born on 6 April 1981 in Mufulira, a mining town in Zambia. He was one of five children born to David and Rita Earnshaw. David managed a gold mine while Rita was a professional footballer in Zambia.

Football was deeply engrained in the Earnshaw family. Robert’s uncle, Fidelis, played professional football while two of his cousins, Kalusha and Johnson Bwalya, represented Zambia at international level.

School for Robert was different to say the least. His father secured a job in Malawi as the manager of a coal mine. The family relocated to Malawi where the children attended St Andrew’s School in Lilongwe, a six-hour drive from the family home. On Mondays Robert and his four siblings boarded a plane to school, stayed a week then, on Fridays, flew home.

Sadly, in May 1990, David Earnshaw contracted typhoid fever and died. In 1991, Rita decided to relocate. She moved her family to Bedwas, Wales, where her sister lived.

Robert later reflected, “It was the first time I had been away from Africa…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.”

In Wales, Robert developed his soccer skills, kicking a football around with his friends and classmates. Aged 12 he joined GE Wales and scored 80 goals in a single season.

Photograph: Wikipedia.

Robert’s skills attracted the attention of Cardiff City. He made his professional debut on 6 September 1997 as a substitute during a 2–0 defeat to Millwall. It took time and a number of loan spells before Robert established himself in the Cardiff City first team. Hat-tricks and honours followed as Robert helped Cardiff City to the First Division in 2002-03.

Robert enjoyed a nomadic professional career playing for several English clubs along with clubs in Canada, Israel, and the United States before, in July 2012, returning to Cardiff City. His transfer fees totalled £12,650,000.

Robert could have played for Zambia. However, he decided to represent Wales. He reasoned, “I thought long and hard about what to do, but Wales was my country. It was where I grew up.”

Robert won Wales caps at youth and under-21 level. His excellent displays in a Welsh shirt and at club level earned him a place in the national side. Robert made his debut in May 2002 against Germany at the Millennium Stadium. He made sure that it was a memorable occasion, scoring in a 1 – 0 win. Unsurprisingly, he was named man of the match.

Robert cemented his place in the national team and became a leading member of the Euro 2004 qualifying squad. Another highlight of Robert’s career occurred in 2004 when he scored a hat-trick in a 4–0 friendly win over Scotland.

Over a decade, Robert represented Wales on 59 occasions, scoring 16 goals. On 25 May 2011 he had the honour of captaining his country against Scotland in the Nations Cup.

A remarkable fact about Robert’s career: he is the only player to have scored a hat-trick in the Premier League, all three divisions of the English Football League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and for his country in an international match.