Jay Bothroyd: Just in Time to Fulfil his Potential

by Jasveer Singh Gill

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

There is nothing sadder in sport then wasted potential. The most tragic figures in sport are more often than not ones who did not harness their talent.

British football – mainly thanks to its big drinking culture – is famous for producing many a player that could not live up to early hype once they met the limelight; the likes of George Best, Paul Gascoigne and Norman Whiteside being some of the biggest names on that list.

In modern times you have the likes of Kieron Dyer, Lee Sharpe, Francis Jeffers and Stan Collymore who had the kind of endings to their career which did not befit their talent. One very harsh lesson from Arsenal football to a teenage Jay Bothroyd may have saved the Cardiff City striker from that kind of fate.

A 17 year old Bothroyd showed typical teenage angst after being substituted in the 2000 F.A Youth Cup Final in 2000, reacting with a tantrum that saw him take off his top and throw it at the feet of the youth team coach Don Howe. This was not the first incident which highlighted the bad attitude that Bothroyd had in his younger days.

The coaches of Arsenal collectively decided to teach Bothroyd a harsh lesson. Despite the 6ft 3in striker being one of the most talented of that generation of Arsenal’s youngsters, which included the likes of Jermain Pennant and Ashley Cole, they told Arsene Wenger to let him leave. Bothroyd was promptly sold to Coventry City.

What followed were a series of years in the wilderness for Bothroyd and only 34 goals in the next eight years. His first three years at Coventry showed lots of potential but often a lack of application. The decision from Arsenal to sell him hit him hard, especially as it was strictly down to his attitude rather than his ability.

A chance to revitalise his career came in the unlikely form of Italian club Perugia. Coaching reports of Jay Bothroyd always spoke of a player with lots of potential; great technique honed at Arsenal combined with an excellent physique for a striker and with an explosive left foot as the cherry on top. Perugia decided to take a gamble on Bothroyd and although he only spent a season there it was a season which he feels changed his entire view on football.

Playing against the likes of Paolo Maldini inspired Bothroyd to adopt a more professional attitude to the game while it also made him realise he could still carve out a good career for himself in the big leagues.

However, things did not work out for him as quickly as he hoped. When his chance in the Premiership eventually came round he failed to make any sort of impact with either Blackburn or Charlton, leading to him again dropping down a division to play for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Fans their were not always on his side, as his lack of obvious effort antagonised a club used to strikers such as Steve Bull and Don Goodman who put themselves about. Bothroyd so far simply had not settled at any club. Fans and managers alike failed to take to him although in glimpses he still showed real talent.

Only when Cardiff City signed him in 2008 has Bothroyd had a chance to show his true potential. Manager Dave Jones has stuck by him having realised the talent Bothroyd has, even when he was not always firing consistently. Now in his third season at Cardiff Bothroyd finally feels comfortable enough to play his natural game and it has only helped now that he has been partnered with Craig Bellamy. At the age of 28 Bothroyd has finally started to fulfil the potential he first showed at Arsenal. 15 goals in 16 games so far for Cardiff this season, along with his style of play which is of the archetypal modern day centre forward (big, strong and with a good touch) has seen him called up to the England squad, with the chance to make his debut tonight against France. With Cardiff looking likely to get promoted this season Bothroyd looks set to get his final chance to make it in the top tier of English football and the likes of Fabio Capello and Arsene Wenger seem certain that he is good enough.

In the future Bothroyd may just thank Arsenal for letting him go so early and so ruthlessly. Had they accepted his bad behaviour he may have ended up getting let go later on in his career, without the time he needed to eventually find his feet in football.

Now, in the prime years of his career, Bothroyd has more than enough time to make the kind of impact in the game that Arsenal knew he was capable of. Rather then something that cost him his big chance, that teenage tantrum 10 years ago could be the making of Jay Bothroyd.

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  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Mystical Mike

    knowing Capello he won’t even get a game, or if he does he’ll get 10 minutes, do ok, then once the likes of Ronney & co are back that will be the end of that.

    Arsenal do tend to produce a lot of these wasted talents, you’ve already mentioned Pennant, what about David Bentley? Biggest ego in football, that interview he gave on Sky just before he left Blackburn was cringy, ‘I should be playing for a top 4 side’, yeah right!

  • Dexylongshot

    I think bently should seek his fortunes on the continent, a bit of a maverick granted but when he is on song, he is a fine player, I just wish he’d be more professional. Jay got his 10 mins of fame or did I just dream that. What I can’t believe is the inclusion of carlton cole who is no where near the form of this time last year. I would have given welbeck a half.

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