Welsh legend John Hartson was born in 1975 in Swansea, to parents Cyril and Diana. Father Cyril was a football fanatic and had played for local team Afan Lido himself. As a young lad, John played at Lonlas Boys’ Club before, at the age of 16, he was snapped up by the youth system at Luton.
Hartson turned pro and made his debut for the club in 1992, going on to play 54 times for Luton over the course of three years, scoring 11 times and impressing with his trademark strength and aerial ability. This led to an offer in 1995 from London giants Arsenal.
At Arsenal, Hartson quickly became a first choice striker, and played alongside Ian Wright in his first season, but eventually, the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Dennis Bergkamp saw John become second choice, and he left the club having scored 17 goals in 70 appearances for the club, West Ham was his destination.
The Hammers broke their transfer record to bring John Hartson in, paying £3.2 million for the Welshman’s services. He rewarded them with a brilliant 33 goals in 73 league and cup appearances, but left the club after a controversial training ground bust-up with team mate Eyal Berkovic.
In 1999, Wimbledon payed a massive £7.5 million for John, and although he scored 19 goals for the club, his time there was hindered by injury problems, and he eventually left the club amidst fears he may not play at the top level again. Coventry gave Hartson a lifeline, offering him a pay as you play deal, and after impressing in his short spell with the Sky Blues, he was snapped up by Celtic.
Hartson spent five glorious years at Celtic, scoring over 100 goals for the Hoops and becoming a club legend. He won the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award in 2005, and felt a great affinity for the Scottish club, he even has a tattoo of the clubs emblem on his upper arm. Eventually, after his five years at the club, Hartson dropped down to Championship level in England, signing for West Brom for £500,000. Although Hartson scored twice on his West Brom debut, he never bedded in at the club successfully, and after a short spell on loan at Norwich, Hartson retired from football in 2008.
John is the 9th top goalscorer for Wales of all time, having played 51 games and scored 14 times.
It was announced in 2009 that Hartson had contracted cancer and that it had spread to his brain, but fortunately, his chemotherapy was successful and Hartson lives a healthy lifestyle today, working in TV for ITV and Setanta as well as guesting on BBCs Match of the Day.
John Hartson, The North Stand Salutes You!