I’ve been trying to speak to Robert Earnshaw for the longest time. Of all the fascinating characters that have passed through Cardiff City in my lifetime, he is probably the one that has always interested me the most. He’s different, in the best possible way.
Some of you may not have had the pleasure of watching him in his first spell at the club, and it really was a pleasure. He was a phenomenon. A natural talent who defied conventional wisdom. How can someone of his size thrive in lower league football?
Earnshaw seemed a natural talent with great instincts, but since talking to him for our huge four-part interview, I now realise that a lot of thought went in to his craft. Footballers rarely get enough credit for their football intelligence, but not many make it to the top without it.
He was a local boy made good and kids loved him because he wasn’t much bigger than them! Earnshaw also always played with a smile on his face, which is far too rare in the game.
It’s also rare to have a player that prolific at your club. It is great supporting a team that has someone that you expect to score every week and rarely lets you down. His 35 goal season was a staggering achievement and no Cardiff player has got anywhere near that since. Suffice to say, we saw plenty of that trademark somersault over the years.
He somehow remained Cardiff’s best kept secret, but a hat-trick for Wales against Scotland put pay to that. When he then popped up on A Question of Sport, you knew it was a wrap.
When he returned to Ninian Park, in a Norwich shirt, he scored one of the best goals of his career and received a round of applause from the home fans. An honour only bestowed on Aaron Ramsey since.
His second spell didn’t really work out, they rarely do, but it was wonderful to see him scoring in a Cardiff shirt all over again. I felt like the Carling Cup final was all set up for him, but he never made it off the bench and we’ll never know if he could have made a difference. Robert discusses this period in depth for a piece that will go up later in the week.
Having already taken his first steps in coaching, he is now back in Wales, learning his craft at Dragon Park in Newport. Who knows what the future may hold, but anyone who follows him on Twitter will know that he’s an original thinker, so it will certainly be interesting to see what happens next.
Not many former players deserve the full fan Q&A treatment, but Earnie is certainly one of them. If you asked a question, he probably answered it with a thoughtful, interesting response. It proved to be, as expected, one of our favourite interviews to date.
Welcome to Earnie Week!