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