Iwan Roberts

Former Player Remembers: Iwan Roberts

Following the acquisition of James Maddison from Norwich City, supporters may remember another Leicester City player to feature for the Canaries - Iwan Roberts.
More on this story...

Five years ago, Club Historian John Hutchinson spoke to the former Welsh international striker about some of the highlights of his eventful two-and-a-half years at Filbert Street, City's former home.

In his spell at Leicester, he scored 44 goals in 111 games and was a key member of the sides which achieved two promotions to the Premier League.

Iwan recalled that City manager Brian Little signed him from Huddersfield Town for £300,000 in November 1993.

"Huddersfield’s manager, Neil Warnock, had to sell players to build up his squad and Leicester put in a bid for me," he remembered.

"I came down on a Thursday. I also spoke to Notts County and to Phil Neale at Coventry City. I had a good look round but there was only one club I wanted to join - Leicester City.

As a centre-forward, brought in for a reasonable amount of money, I wanted to hit the ground running and get my first goal to help me to settle.

Iwan Roberts

"Brian Little sold the Club to me. They had a good squad of players who had come within touching distance of promotion twice in the two previous seasons so they looked good for promotion.

"They were also building a new stand [the Carling Stand] which looked ever so impressive."

Iwan scored two goals on his debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Filbert Street, of which he said: “It was a good start but I should have scored a hat-trick!

"We were 2-0 down and we were booed off at half-time. I was wondering ‘who have I signed for here?!’

"At half-time, we got to the Portakabin we were using as a dressing room whilst they were building the new stand.

Expand photo
Iwan Roberts
Iwan Roberts

Iwan's goal-scoring record endeared him to the Club's supporters.

"Brian was never one to rant and rave. He always kept calm and had a calm way of getting points across. He made two changes and we got back into the game and I got both goals.

"The service I was given that day by Gary Mills and the crosses he produced from the right would have had any centre-forward licking his lips.

"The first goal was one of the better headers I had in my career. I met it perfectly, right in front of the Kop.

"For my second goal, Speedo [David Speedie] should have scored before me but he made a hash of it with his shoulder. It fell to me and I smashed it into the roof of the net. I was overjoyed, I really was!

"As a centre-forward, brought in for a reasonable amount of money, I wanted to hit the ground running and get my first goal to help me to settle.

"I missed the easiest chance and when Lee Philpott squared the ball across the six-yard box, somehow I blazed it over the bar. It sticks in my mind today. I should have had a hat trick."

To go ahead 3-2 and for me to score my first hat-trick in such an important game was brilliant. It was a shame we didn’t go onto win but it was great entertainment!

Iwan Roberts

In April 1994, in an evening match at a packed Filbert Street and with both clubs going for promotion, Iwan scored a remarkable 12-minute triple against the Rams in a 3-3 draw.

"We knew how important this game was," Iwan added. "Derby had a very good squad of players, but one thing we had was character - the players never said die.

"Paul Kitson [also an ex-Foxes player] scored both opening goals for Derby. My first goal, which got us back into the game, was from a Steve Agnew free kick.

"The second one was probably the best goal I scored for Leicester. I met a corner from the right-hand side with a half volley. Jimmy Greaves said that he had never seen a goal hit more sweetly!

"For the third, Julian Joachim sent me a ball just inside the penalty box. I hit a low, right-footed shot between the goalkeeper’s legs... the joy then!

"To go ahead 3-2 and for me to score my first hat-trick in such an important game was brilliant. It was a shame we didn’t go onto win but it was great entertainment!

"A couple of weeks later, I went for a header against Oxford’s Matt Elliott [who later joined the Club] and broke my ribs.

Expand photo
Iwan Roberts
Iwan Roberts

Roberts scored a host of hugely significant goals for the Foxes.

"I didn’t train for five weeks and it was touch and go whether I would make the Play-Off Final against Derby.

"A couple of days before Wembley, Brian told me that he wanted to put me up front with Walshy [Steve Walsh] and Sticks [Ian Ormondroyd].

"He was showing an unbelievable amount of faith in me to throw me into such an important game. It was the biggest game of my career. I’d never played at Wembley before.

"Derby were hot favourites. We had just scraped into the Play-Offs in sixth place. With me, Walshy and Sticks up front, it was never going to be pretty.

"Tommy Johnson put them ahead, then we scored. I went up with their goalkeeper for a ball and I might have caught him with my elbow.

"Normally the referee would have given a free kick to the goalkeeper but he didn’t and Walshy scored.

I’ll never forget the trip back to Leicester. Every motorway bridge north of Watford Gap was festooned with Leicester scarves and flags, it was an unbelievable sight.

Iwan Roberts

"This made us think it was going to be our day and of course Walshy went on to score the winner towards the end of the game. When we won, all hell let loose!

"Having lost the two previous Play-Off finals, to get into the Premier League finally was great for everybody at Leicester City.

"I’ll never forget the trip back to Leicester. Every motorway bridge north of Watford Gap was festooned with Leicester scarves and flags, it was an unbelievable sight."

The following season, Leicester City struggled in the recently-established Premier League and were relegated, but Iwan was once again top scorer, as was the case the following season when his 19 goals were a big factor in Martin O’Neill’s side reaching the Play-Off Final against Crystal Palace and regaining their place in the top flight.

Unfortunately Iwan missed that Final through injury and during the close season he moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers for a year, before his very successful move to Norwich City.

At Carrow Road, Iwan scored 97 goals in 306 appearances before also representing Gillingham, who he managed on a caretaker basis and Oxford United before finally retiring from football.

Leicester City Crest

Latest News

More Videos

Latest Images