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FLOWN THE NEST: EARNSHAW EXCLUSIVE

9 September 2016

Earnshaw on retirement, a new career path and his time with the Canaries...

FORMER Norwich City striker Robert Earnshaw is enjoying retirement from the sport, almost 5,000 miles away from Carrow Road in British Columbia, Canada.

The 35-year-old formally hung up his boots in January after last representing Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS, bringing his playing career to an end after almost two decades in the game.

Now combining roles as an attacking coach at the Whitecaps with a position within their Academy, the 59-time capped Wales international is transferring his experience to the next generation of rising stars in North America.

"I'm in a nice position because with the jobs I have, I get to see the whole club," he told canaries.co.uk in an exclusive interview.

"I work as head coach of the Under-15s but also work as the senior side's forwards coach. In many ways, working with the senior team is the easiest part of that for me, because I've been around it.


"It's sometimes more difficult with the younger guys as they don't know certain things. Once you start working with them on a day-to-day basis though, you realise how quickly they take information on.

"You see them improving quickly and can identify ways in which you can give them the best knowledge. I played with some great players who were great professionals, but you can also sometimes play with bad professionals; it's not always good everywhere.

"I've managed to get an understanding of what works and what doesn't from managers and coaches, as well as people I've played with. By passing that knowledge onto young players I can help them get into a better position.

"Football is a great sport but sometimes it's complicated for no reason; sometimes you just need to be able to provide the right advice at the right time."

Although not always on his personal agenda, Earnshaw says moving into coaching felt like a natural form of progression as his playing days moved towards their conclusion.

"When you're playing, particularly as you get older, you gradually start to analyse the game and what happens on the pitch more," he explained.

"You become almost a coach on the pitch, because you see the mistakes. The transition has been difficult, and there won't be any players who have retired to move into coaching that won't have found that decision tough.

"It's completely different to playing, but for me it's been a good step. I've now got some good experience and am able to pass my understanding of the game onto other players.

"I'm able to connect with the young guys, and being involved in the first team helps that. Being split between the two, they can ask me for advice about what's happening in the first team almost daily.

"That's something they really invest in because, like any young players, the first team is ultimately where they want to be."

This weekend's meeting with Cardiff City at Carrow Road marks a fitting time to speak with Earnshaw, who started life as a professional footballer with the Bluebirds in the late 1990s.


Plundering 86 league goals in 183 league appearances in total, the frontman's efforts saw the Welsh side rise from Division Three to the second tier - and earned him a move to the Premiership with West Brom in 2004. 

An 18-month stint with the Canaries followed from January 2006, where he maintained his prolific record by netting 27 goals from 41 Championship starts, and Earnshaw continues to track the fortunes of his past sides.

"A lot of the games are shown live here in North America, which people probably don't realise," he said.

"It's funny because sometimes I get to see the games before people in the UK, especially on a Saturday. That's good because it allows me to keep an eye on how my former teams are doing.

"Cardiff especially is a club I've still got strong links to, and it's a club which will always be close to me. It's where I was brought up so I'm always checking up on them."

Reflecting on the year-and-a-half he spent with the Canaries, the Zambian-born former frontman added: "I loved my time and Norwich and wish I'd been there longer really because it was a great place to play. 

"It was probably some of the best and most consistent times of my career. The fans were brilliant and we had a good team too; we had Carl Robinson in midfield who's now first team coach here at the Whitecaps, so there's a link there.


"We had a great bunch of people like Adam Drury, Darren Huckerby, Dickson Etuhu and Dion Dublin, among others. I've got really fond memories of my time there, and it definitely helped me to develop myself as a player.

"I can still relate to that because I'm taking on new challenges now and still learning, only this time as a coach. I find that the more you do things, the more you're able to grow into what you do - that's what makes it so enjoyable."



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