October 16, 2021

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Jay Bothroyd: Playing for England And Friendship With Gaddafi

Jay Bothroyd being tackled by Allou Diarra in his only match for England

Even when he firing in goals at the Cardiff City stadium, few could believe it when they heard that Jay Bothroyd had got a call up for the England National Team in 2010. And while the Jay Bothroyd England journey was a short one, it was a long time coming.

Bothroyd was leading the Championship scoring charts. He was firing Cardiff City to the top of the league with 15 goals in just 16 appearances. In a team with the likes of Michael Chopra (whom I discuss in length in an article here), Craig Bellamy and the late, great Peter Whittingham, Bothroyd played a staring role in Cardiff’s ultimately unsuccessful title push.

An astonishing turn of form for Bothroyd. He had never scored double digits in goals before joining the Bluebirds, but managed the feat in 3 consecutive seasons. But in 2010, he scored 15 of his 18 goals before Christmas, an astonishing feat which showed his laziness after his England call up.


The England Call Up

Fabio Capello, the England Manager at the time, made a surprise decision. He called up Jay Bothroyd to England for a friendly against France.

The Englishman was plying his trade in the second division of English football. He is usually would not have been on the Italian’s radar. But England had injuries to key England strikers, such as Wayne Rooney, Jermaine Defoe and Bobby Zamora. This meant that there was an opening for a forward in the squad.

Bothroyd’s incredible form meant Capello had no choice but to take notice, and handed him a call up which Bothroyd described as “The best day of my career”. He started on the bench for England. Bothroyd watched in horror as his side went 2-0 down with goals from Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena (an interesting pair indeed…).

Jay Bothroyd came on for Andy Carroll, who was also making his Three Lions Debut. He didn’t have to wait long for a chance. He almost scoring immediately and the ball ricocheted in the box and out for an England corner. A few times he found himself in the box, but the ball just could not find it’s way to him.

He had a quiet game overall, not seeing much of the ball. France dominated large parts of the game. With some key England players out injured, it was a torrid time for the Three Lions. Bothroyd didn’t look bad in defeat, but he would not get another chance to impress. His form for Cardiff dipped, scoring only 3 more times for the Bluebirds that season. He would never get called up again for England.


Bad Attitude Jay Bothroyd

Bothroyd credits his year in Italy with Perugia as the experience that turned him from a boy into a man, and helped kick off his journey into the England squad.

“It has been a long journey but I have picked up a lot of experience along the way,” he said. “I went to Italy and came back a more mature person. I was more focused on getting what I want from my career.”

Bothroyd moved to Italy after developing attitude problem’s whilst playing in England. He was part of a highly rated Arsenal youth side which included England’s Ashley Cole and Jermaine Pennant (Still the only English player to play in a Champions League final but never win an England Cap), and was one of the highest rated of the lot.

The lanky striker was discarded from Arsenal due to attitude problems, which culminated in throwing his shirt at youth coach Don Howe after a disappointing performance. He was left on the Bench in the 2000 FA Youth Cup final, which caused the outburst.

Despite not making any appearances for the Gunners, he was sold to Coventry for a fee of £1,000,000, a large amount for an unproven youngster in 2000. Liam Brady, Arsenal’s head of Youth Development said “We will not tolerate this behaviour. He is not wanted at this club any more.”, a damning indictment of the youngsters attitude.

He flourished at Coventry, topping the clubs top scorer charts in the 2002/03 season. Jay scored 11 goals, helping the Sky Blues stave off relegation from the First Division (Now the Championship), attracting interest from abroad.


Italy With Gadafi

Despite his poor attitude persisting, causing Coventry manager Gary McCallister regularly leaving the pouting star man on the bench, interest from the Serie A was rife. He moved their on a free transfer when he and Coventry did not come to an agreement on a new contract, and Perugia manager Serse Cosmi flew over to England to personally get the deal for Bothroyd over the line.

He moves like a gazelle and looks like Adriano” the Italian claimed. High praise for the Englishman, and a lot to live up to.

However, the signing of the young up and coming English superstar coming to Italy was rather overshadowed by another high profile move. It was a young star, coming out of the Libyan Leagues who was taking the league by storm.

Al-Saadi Gaddafi. Son of Colonel Gaddafi. The forward from Libya used his familiar connections and billions of dollars to make his way to Italy, and be signed by eccentric Perugia manager.

Perugia

It was in Perugia where Jay Bothroyd became friends with the billionaire son of Colonel Gaddafi. The two hit it off, being the only two English speakers at the club.

However, both men didn’t excel at the club, Bothroyd due to homesickness and Gaddafi due to an extreme lack of talent. Bothroyd was loaned back to England in his second season. He spent a season on loan with Blackburd Rovers before moving permanently to Charlton Athletic.

“I went to Italy and came back a more mature person,” he admitted to The Guardian in 2010. “I was more focussed on getting what I want from my career.”. Bothroyd said in 2010 interview, after winning his one and only cap for England.

The striker would float around clubs around England and Wales, making the bold step to play in Japan, the first high-profile Englishman since Gary Lineker.