January 11th 2005, England Under-21 striker Dean Ashton became
Norwich's record transfer signing when he completed a £3million
move from Crewe to Carrow Road. This could rise to £3.5million
with Crewe receiving 20% of any profit made on selling Ashton.
After two days of negotiation, Dean signed a three-and-a-half
year contract, with a further one-year option, after completing
a medical. The deal for the highly-rated 21-year-old shattered
Norwich's previous record transfer fee of £1m paid to Leeds
for defender Jon Newsome in 1994.
The 20-goal striker was delighted to get the chance to try his
luck in the Premiership, having been linked with a number of top-flight
clubs including Aston Villa, Blackburn Crystal Palace, Everton,
Liverpool and Tottenham. "With Norwich I felt there was
a chance to play regularly," Ashton said. "The
main thing I've noticed is how professional the club is. All the
facilities are excellent."
Ashton had scored 74 goals for Crewe in all competitions since
signing from a trainee in the summer of 2000. He has also come
up through the international ranks with England, featuring for
both the U19s and U20s before establishing himself in the U21
squad. He has three U21 caps and two goals.
Dean made his Norwich debut in the 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa
on 15th January but got his first goal in the 4-4 draw with Middlesbrough
on 22nd January.
Following Norwich's relegation at the end of the 2004/5 season,
Dean was linked with a £4m switch to Scottish champions
Rangers. The next club to be linked were West Ham over the weekend
of 16h/17th July 2005. After Dean scored twice in Norwich's opening
three games of the 2005/6 season, The People suggested
that Wigan would fork out £5million for his signature to
replace Hawthorns-bound Nathan Ellington. With Norwich bidding
for Birmingham's Clinton Morrison, it was suggested that Ashton
would be leaving Carrow Road with Tottenham, West Ham (£6m)
and Man City (£7m) linked with him over the weekend of 20th/21st
August 2005. His absence from Norwich's Carling Cup clash with
MK Dons only led to more speculation but on 25th August, Dean
signed a one year extension to his contract.
In November 2005, Dean and colleague Robert Green were linked
with a January 2005 transfer to Everton after David Moyes was
spotted in the crowds during Norwich's 2-0 defeat to Wolves. The
following month saw Aston Villa, Man City and West Ham all linked
with a swoop in the January transfer window. Nigel Worthington
stated that Ashton was worth three times what Norwich had paid
for him. Charlton manager Alan Curbishley declared that Ashton
was too expensive for the Valiants on December 17th 2005 but the
following day's News of the World suggested a £6million
switch to Wigan. His value and demand would have shot up following
his hat-trick for Norwich against Southampton on 17th December
2005. On 31st December 2005, the Daily Telegraph in their
article on the January transfer window linked Ashton with moves
to Wigan, West Ham and Man City. Portsmouth, with additional funds
available from their new Russian owner, were said to have offered
£5million for him. Further speculation that Ashton would
be sold came when he did not appear in Norwich's line-up for their
FA Cup clash with West Ham on 7th January. However Nigel Worthington
said that his absence was due to a groin strain injured in training.
West Ham were then said to have bid £5m for him but were
told that Norwich wanted £7.5m. Their bid was said to have
increased to £7m by 20th January.
On the evening of 21st January 2006, Norwich finally agreed terms
with West Ham that made Ashton City's record sale as he departed
to Upton Park for a fee of £7million which could rise by
£250,000 based on whether Dean is capped by England (£125,000)
or whether West Ham make it into Europe with him in their squad
(£125,000). There is also a 15% sell off clause of any profit
that West Ham might make from any future sale. Crewe received
£1.5million as part of the deal that took Ashton to Carrow
Ashton paid tribute to the support he has received from City
fans. I have had a great year with Norwich and I would
like to sincerely thank the fans and everyone I have worked with
at Colney and Carrow Road, he said. West Ham
are a big club, I am ambitious and at the end of the day the chance
of a swift step up to the Premiership is too good to turn down.
I spoke to Nigel and the Board and told them I wanted to
pursue this opportunity. I'd like to thank Norwich for understanding
that and allowing myself and my representative to talk to West
Dean scored his first goal for the Hammers on 4th February 2006
in a win over Sunderland at Upton Park. Ashton's contribution
to West Ham's FA Cup run that toook them to a final against Liverpool
meant that the Hammers would be in Europe in the UEFA Cup in the
2006/7 season and so Norwich received an additional £125,000.
Although he suffered a hamstring injury in the semi-final, he
recovered fitness to start in the FA Cup final aginst Liverpool
on 13th May 2006., Ashton assisted in the build-up with West Ham's
first - an own goal by Jamie Garragher, and then scored West Ham's
second to put them two nil up but an inspired performance by Steven
Gerrard saw Liverpool equalise. Although West Ham went ahead again
through Paul Konchelsky, Gerrard equalised at the end of the match.
The game went to penalties and Liverpool won 3-1 after misses
by Zamora (who had replaced Ashton in
the second half), Konchelsky and Ferdinand
On 11th June 2006, the Daily Star suggested that Newcastle
United would bid £10m for Ashton whom they see as a replacement
for Alan Shearer.
Reports in The Mail on Sunday, The People and The News
of the World on Sunday the August 2006 all suggested that
Ashton would be called up to Steve McLaren's first England squad
for the August friendly against Greece. This would earn Norwich
another £125,000. The speculation proved correct and Ashton
was ready to make his debut but suffered an injury during the
England training sessions that resulted in him missing the rest
of the 2006/7 season. This didn't stop speculation on 18th February
2007 by the News of the World that Newcastle manager Glenn
Roeder would make a triple raid on West Ham if the East Londoners
were relegated, to sign Ashton, Anton Ferdinand and Nigel Reo-Coker.
Ashton returned to the West Ham first team during the 2007 pre-season
and after a period where he scored three goals in four games,
was recalled to the England squad. However he suffered a sprained
medial knee injury in the latter stages of West Ham's 1-0 defeat
at Aston Villa on 6th October 2007 which will see him ruled our
of action for six weeks. West Ham's head physiotherapist George
Cooper said: "We received the results of Dean's scan and
they were what we expected which is that he had sprained the upper
third of his medial ligament. In the majority of cases it will
take up to six weeks for full recovery."
Dean returned to form in the second half of the 2007/8 season
and was called up to the England squad for the friendlies with
the USA and Trinidad & Tobago. Rumours in May 2008 suggested
he was a £10m target for Manchester United - a move which
would net the Canaries £400,000 in sell-on clauses. Previous
stories have linked the former Crewe striker with Newcastle, Manchester
City and Portsmouth.
Dean made his international debut in the aforementioned friendly
clash with Trinidad, playing the first 45minutes of the game played
on Sunday 1st June. Three days later, Dean signed a new five year
deal with the Hammers. However this did not end the speculation.
Man City were rumoured to be preparing a £15m bid and then
it was reported that following the sale of Robbie Keane to Liverpool,
Tottenham lodged a £15m bid for Ashton on 6th August 2008
but that this was rejected outright by the Hammers. Hammers chief
executive Scott Duxberry, who said: Hell would have to
freeze over for us to sell Dean to a major rival.
There was widespread speculation on 24th August 2009 that Ashton
would have to retire prematurely from football due to his injuries.
After months of speculation, West Ham United officially announced
on 11 December that striker Ashton was to retire from the professional
game. He had failed to recover from an ankle injury originally
sustained by a tackle by Shaun Wright-Phillips whilst on an England
training session in August 2006. Several operations and comebacks
later, Ashton was forced to quit the game having last played in
At the end of February 2012, Dean was voted into Norwich City's
Hall of Fame
Ashton tried his hand at coaching but instead works primarily
as a pundit.