Saturday for Norwich City – the kind of games any player should be looking forward to
- Credit: PA
It was always hard to imagine any side struggling to score goals with Robert Earnshaw in its line-up. The Wales striker was the epitome of a natural born goalscorer, and while he seemed to absorb a little too much of the scoring burden at times, he usually delivered too.
It was nice to speak to him over the phone this week for a brief catch-up – Earnie has certainly put in a few miles recently.
There was no way of squeezing all of our chat into a back-page story, given the big game this weekend between two of his former clubs, and a certain Baggies bust-up to dissect. But it certainly would have been worth it.
Out of favour at Cardiff, the last 18 months have seen the 32-year-old ply his trade at Macabi Tel Aviv in Israel, and then with Toronto in North America's MLS.
And with that league's off-season in full flow, the former Norwich City forward has found himself on Blackpool's books for the rest of the season aiming to get fit, get some games, get the Tangerines clear of Championship relegation trouble and finally, find himself a suitable option for next season.
Maybe a Zambian-born Welshman was always destined to see what the world had to offer and do things a little differently to other professionals.
'To be honest, it's been brilliant – mainly for my football education as well, to come away from the UK and really step outside my comfort level, to see different things,' Earnshaw told me on Wednesday.
- 1 Flames grip barn in north Norfolk
- 2 Café serving produce fresh from its farm opens in north Norfolk
- 3 Fewer than half of village's homes occupied by full-time residents
- 4 Parked cars prevent buses from serving north Norfolk village
- 5 'Quirky' two-bed cottage in Wymondham on sale for £350k
- 6 Norwich's 'hidden' church added to at risk list
- 7 'Significant construction' on A47 to begin in 2023
- 8 7 major events to look forward to in Norfolk in July
- 9 West Norfolk town centre road closed following two-vehicle crash
- 10 Need for extension could mean Norwich roadworks continue for longer
'I've definitely expanded my football knowledge, more than anything. I really enjoyed it.
'I think it's fair to say not many UK players venture away – also we have this thing where the Premier League is obviously the place to play, but some think it's the be all and end all. Whereas there are some other great leagues out there.
'People abroad watch different leagues – not just their own.
'I went to play abroad because I wanted to play somewhere different, somewhere good, to see different sides of – and more technical – football. And it's was a real eye-opener.'
With such a tightly regulated league in terms of the financials and salary caps, it may be the arrival of a prized England commodity such as Jermain Defoe doesn't leave much room for a prized Welsh one.
Still, it is allowing Earnie to be back in England – and no doubt he will be casting an eye over what happens to a host of his former clubs – especially Norwich, Albion and of course, Cardiff. I got the sense he'd rather like to be involved in the tussles too.
'I wouldn't say you enjoy those games because as a professional, you don't want to be in that position – you want to be fighting at the other end of the table,' he said.
'But when you are, you have to fight for yourself and the team as much as possible. And those players will do that on Saturday.
'For me, I loved the big games and the pressure in those. When there's something on the line, like relegation, it added that intensity to the game and that's good. It's why you are there.
'Cardiff and Fulham are struggling, but over the next couple of weeks there will be a couple of teams pulled right into it and probably five teams fighting for their lives over the last three games. You can't be able to say any of those bottom teams are finished. Those last few games are going to be intense stuff.'
Canaries fans will still be hoping it doesn't come to that for them – but it would have to be at the expense of one, if not two, of Earnshaw's other former sides.