There are not many former Cardiff players that we would devote a whole week to, but Michael Chopra is an automatic, obvious choice. He’s that kind of player; a big game player.
Signed for £500,000 in 2006, he left a year later for a deal worth £5m, having helped himself to 22 goals. He returned on loan twice before rejoining permanently in 2009 for around half of what Cardiff received for him and scored another 21. There were goals during every spell and big goals too.
A hat-trick in a 3-1 win against Leicester, another three away at Plymouth, four against Derby. He scored three in matches against Swansea, four against Bristol City, netted at Stamford Bridge, the semi- final and final of the play-offs. He was brilliant in the defeat against Blackpool and really did not deserve to be on the losing side.
Chopra must have been a nightmare to play against. A real pain in the arse that would kind of amble about before springing in to life, like a Geordie Sergio Aguero. Dave Jones appeared to man-mange him brilliantly and pairing him with Jay Bothroyd, another ‘colourful character,’ had plenty of scope to be a disaster, but proved a master stroke. When you factor in Ross McCormack and Craig Bellamy, t’s still hard to believe that Cardiff had such frightening forward options during this period.
Chopra’s troubles are well documented, but Cardiff seemed to be his happy place and the feeling was very much mutual. He is one of the most beloved former players because he seemed to care so much. That’s not to say that others don’t care, but Chopra couldn’t hide it.
Not only did he wear his heart on his sleeve, but it was also written all over his face and the rest of him too. Anger, joy and everything in between. He sobbed after the Blackpool game and roared after the scoring the winner against Swansea. So did we.
There is also the fact that Cardiff have never really managed to replace him. They’ve made do without a goal machine, but how they could do with a player like Chopra right now. His likes is surely top of Neil Warnock’s shopping list for January, but were Chopra at the peak of his powers right now, chances are that Cardiff couldn’t afford him anyway.
So welcome to Michael Chopra week. Here at VFTN, we’ve enjoyed reminiscing and compiling our favourite Chopra moments. We enjoyed asking him your questions and a few of our own. We also managed to rope in Kevin McNaughton to get his thoughts and memories. Hopefully this will be the first of many such weeks and sure you can imagine who we have our eye on. For now though, something appears to be coming over the hill…