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Iwan Roberts

Iwan Roberts
Norwich Career: 1997-2004 (306 appearances, 96 goals) 
Current Club:
Date of Birth: 26/06/1968 
Nationality: Welsh

Biography

Welsh international Iwan Roberts began his career at Watford (63 games, 9 goals) before joining Huddersfield (142 league games, 50 goals). He later joined Leicester City for whom he completed a 100 matches scoring 41 times. He had a brief stay at Wolves where he scored 12 times in 33 games. Norwich signed him from Wolves for £850,000 in July 1997. He found it hard to settle in the team and his goal return did not seem to justify the huge outlay. He scored just 7 goals in 33 appearances. However a return to form at the end of the season (2 goals against Huddersfield) suggests that 1998/99 would be more productive. I

1998/99 was certainly more productive with Iwan finishing as the Canaries' leading scorer with 19 league goals. He earned a recall into the Welsh international squad. Iwan was the target of a transfer bid from Bristol City manager Tony Pulis who had 3.75million to spend on new players after the sale of Ade Akinbiyi to Wolves.

Iwan's contract was due to expire at the end of the 1999/2000 season and contract negotiations remained deadlocked for a number of weeks. Iwan threatened to leave the club if he is not offered the terms he seeks. Speculation linked him with Hearts and Gillingham. Teamtalk speculated on 31st January 2000 that Iwan might be heading for West Bromwich Albion as a replacement for Enzo Maresca, recently signed by Juventus. A new contract was finally signed in late January 2000

Showing impressive form in the 1999/2000 season, Iwan returned to the Welsh international squad and won his 8th cap against Finland as substitute. Along with teammate Craig Bellamy and former Canary Andy Johnson, Iwan was called into the Wales squad for the friendly against Brazil on 23rd May 2000. This was a fine end to the 1999/2000 season which saw Iwan get 19 goals and win the Norwich City Player of the Year award for the second season in a row. Iwan started both the friendlies played by Wales in May 2000 against Brazil and Portugal, the latter seeing him team up with Craig Bellamy in a new look Welsh forward line.

Again Norwich's leading scorer in 2000/01, Iwan was the subject of a transfer bid from Gillingham at the end of July 2001 but this was rejected and Iwan appointed vice-captain to Neil Emblen - thus suggesting he was to play an integral part in Worthington's plans for the 2000/01 season despite the plethora of strikers at Carrow Road (Abbey, Bloomfield, Coote, Libbra, McVeigh, Notman, Rivers etc.). Despite his poor form in Norwich's opening match at Millwall (lost 4-0), Iwan was called up to the Welsh Under 21 squad for their games with Armenia and Norway at the beginning of September 2001. Cardiff City made a 200,000 bid for Iwan towards the beginning of the 2001/02 season but this was dismissed out of hand by Norwich. However Iwan had expressed an interest in moving back to Wales at the end of his career. Speculation of a move to Wales was put to rest on 22nd September 2001 when Iwan signed a two year extension to his contract.

He finished the 2001/02 season as leading scorer for the fourth consecutive season with 14 goals in 34 outings. Much was made of Norwich's poor form in front of goal during Iwan's absence for one third of the season. He still recovered to return to the team and score the first goal of the Division One play-off final at Cardiff in May 2002. Iwan became Norwich's third highest scorer of all time on Saturday November 9th 2002 when his two goals against Sheffield Wednesday were his 84th and 85th respectively. A further goal came the following week in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Iwan made his 250th appearance for the Canaries at Sheffield United on 22nd February 2003. He finished the season with just 7 goals in 47 appearances.

Even though Iwan still plays regularly for the first team, and at the time of writing has three goals to his credit, it is unlikely that his playing career at this level will continue for much longer. Therefore it is not suprising that he was seen as the favourite to replace departed Academy coach Adrian Boothroyd although fans on the Pink Un's forums tended to favour Robert Fleck for this role.

In January 2004, Sheffield Wednesday were linked with a move for Roberts as one final payday before retirement. However he proved his value to the Canaries scoring their opening goal in the 4-4 draw at Rotherham on 17th January 2004.

Following Norwich's promotion to the Premiership, the Canaries sadly reported on 29th April 2004 that they would not be offering Iwan a new contract for the 2004/5 season. He received a tearful farewell from the Carrow Road faithful at the Norwich match against Preston on 1st May 2004 who appreciated his 94 goals in 304 appearances. His final appearance for Norwich was at Crewe on 8th May 2004 where he was club captain and scored his 95th and 96th goals for the club.

Following Norwich's announcement regarding Iwan's future, he was quickly linked with Sheffield Wendesday and with a player-coach role at Swansea City, manaed by his former Watford teammate Kenny Jackett. Iwan has expressed interest in the job in Wales but it appears that Swansea might face competition from Hull City whose manager Peter Taylor is looking for a target man to replace the injured Ben Burgess. Other clubs to have expressed an interest include Gillingham, Colchester, Barnsley, Notts County, Luton, Northampton, Huddersfield and South Korean side Pusan Icons (who had Jamie Cureton playing for them). Although Gillingham were believed to be leading the way, media speculation at the beginning of June 2004 suggested that former Spurs manager Christian Gross was keen to sign Iwan for Swiss side FA Basel. In addition, the People reported that Iwan was talking to two American MLS sides.

Eventiually iwan signed for Gillingham on a two year contract as player-coach on July 1st 2004. "I'm pleased to have agreed terms," said Roberts after joining his sixth professional club. "Andy Hessenthaler and Paul Scally have really sold the Gills to me and the coaching aspect of the role was certainly a big plus factor in making my decision. It's a great opportunity for me to get my coaching career under way. They are a competitive club and I've always maintained that I wanted to continue to play at as high a level as possible. As for Ipswich in the first game of the season, I'm sure if I'm selected I will get a warm welcome at Portman Road!"

His first season at Gillingham turned sour despite a good start with three goals in the first few games of the season. Andy Hessenthaler was replaced as manager by Stan Ternent and Iwan lost his place in the first team. He was also relieved of his coaching duties as Ternent brought in Ronnie Jepson. In February 2005, Iwan indicated that he wanted a move away stating that he had been in contact with Rob Newman at struggling League Two side Cambridge. This move materialised on March 1st with Roberts loaned to the U's until the end of the season. Unfortunately his efforts could not prevent United being relegated to the Conference on 24th April 2005.

Iwan left Gillingham on 25th August 2005 saying "A few things have gone on that have left a bitter taste in my mouth, I've come to an agreement with the chairman of Gillingham Football Club for them to pay the remainder of my contract so I'm no longer a Gillingham player. I'm very relieved because it's been a tough eight months since (former player-manager) Andy Hessenthaler stepped down. I'm 37 years old, been in the game for 20 years, played over 750 games, scored 239 goals and I just think the way I've been treated is not something you do to someone of my experience. I've been shown a total lack of respect by certain people." Iwan may decide to continue on playing, move into coaching (he is studying for his UEFA A license) or do media work for Sky and BBC Wales.

Iwan has also published his biography "All I Want For Christmas"


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