John Hartson

By on Jul 13, 2009 in Latest | 111 comments

That retirement comes at such a young age is one of the curious contradictions of football. No sooner has a professional player reached his prime than he is sliding down the other side of his career arc. The overwhelming majority vanish quietly into the distance to retrain as sports scientists, run pubs, or do any one of a myriad of other jobs out of necessity after the end of their playing careers. Thirtysomething men are suddenly cast as rookies again as they start their managerial careers in earnest. Relatively young men, thanks to the over-exposure of the media, seem older than they are.

All of which brings us, albeit in a slightly roundabout way, to the terrible diagnosis that has befallen John Hartson. Hartson had what could be described as a typical top flight career. He started at Luton Town, before a big money move to Arsenal that never quite worked out. West Ham United, Wimbledon and Coventry City all followed, but it was a move to Celtic that finally allowed him to find himself as a player and eighty-nine goals in less than one hundred and fifty matches followed over a five year period. A brief return to England followed, with his playing career closing after short spells at West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City before retiring as a player last summer at the age of thirty-three. In addition to this, he made over fifty appearances for Wales.

The green shoots of a career in the media has been starting to blossom for him. He was a regular guest on Setanta Sports last season and has also been on seen on “Sgorio”, the Welsh language football programme on S4C, as well as occasionally on the BBC. Hartson’s diagnosis with testicular cancer which has spread to the brain sounds horrifying, but the survival rates for both forms of the disease are high if caught early enough. In the case of the cyclist Lance Armstrong, testicular cancer had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain, yet he survived. Hartson is a young, fit man. He faces many months of difficult, uncomfortable treatment, but the sensationalist headlines in the press mask the fact that, until we know better, his condition is treatable.

As much as we can say from here is to wish him all the best, and it is worth pausing a moment from the artificially created world of football “news” to consider that sometimes the real world butts in and reminds us of what is truly important. This can be a cruel world at times, but the only thing that Hartson can do with his diagnosis – as we would all have to do in his position – is face it down and see it off. It should go without saying that the words of support for John Hartson – always a player to divide opinion both on and off the pitch during his playing career – should be unanimous, as they have been so far. There is still plenty of time for him to see through his ultimate aim of a career in management.

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    111 Comments

  1. Spot on. He did a few spots on Talk Sport last year too, and was all at once knowledgeable, honest and likeable. I met him once, in a nightclub, I was on a stag night and was probably the 400th person that night to slur an invite for a drink to him. Far from being the boorish pot-plant kicking lout that he was portrayed as at the time, he was friendly and polite, not just detached and wary but seemingly seeing the funny side of it all. I wish him a really speedy recovery.

    Gervillian Swike

    July 13, 2009

  2. I hope you give the cancer the same battle you gave opposition defenders when playing for us in 1999-2001 Big John.

    Martin

    July 14, 2009

  3. john all football fans r think of u at this sad time.get well soon john

    luton town fan

    July 14, 2009

  4. Hope you make a full recovery John, will be thinking of you

    Joanne Hall

    July 15, 2009

  5. Good article, just wish the rest of the media world took note. there quick to right him off!! As a west ham fan, growing up, the late nineties provided us with Mr Hartson and his “typical number 9″ style. I visited the training ground as an over excited kid in the summer holidays and what a top bloke, he took us inside as it was raining and gave us all autographed photos and answered questions as if it was no bother, when all the other players couldnt wait to get in there motors. Get well john, if you battle this like you did sol campbell that night against the spurs you will have no bother!

    gingerhammer

    July 15, 2009

  6. All the best John, thinking of you at this trying time. Keep battling!!
    West Bromwich Albion Fan

    Karen

    July 15, 2009

  7. John all the thoughts of Celtic fans from Derry are with you.
    We all know your strong,
    You will win this battle
    God bless
    Get well soon we’re all thinking on you

    mickeyCFC

    July 15, 2009

  8. Thinking of you and your family at this time John if anyone can fight this horrible illnes you can
    God bless

    Carol wolves f(an)

    July 15, 2009

  9. Loved to hate you when you played with the ‘tic but….hey… that only cos you were good !
    You can beat this. Good luck

    gers fan

    July 15, 2009

  10. All the best Big John, Good luck,you will beat this, like you beat up the opposition

    Jean W.B.A. fan

    July 15, 2009

  11. Legend to the sport! hope you make a full recovery

    CFC Glos

    July 15, 2009

  12. also nice comment from gers fan. nice to put the rivalry aside and appreciate a great player

    CFC Glos

    July 15, 2009

  13. As a player you gave over 100%.I hope your recovery is the same.Good luck m8,all the best.

    Dave Fife Gers fan

    July 15, 2009

  14. Even though Arsene got rid of him pretty sharpish, the fella has continued to praise us and indeed back us when the media world have been on our backs. The fella is a legend, and I have also had the pleasure of meeting him when he went to West Ham and he still had nothing but praise for The Arsenal. We are all thinking of you John.

    HollowayHarry

    July 15, 2009

  15. To John and his family

    My thoughts are with you .Keep fighting John.Best wishes from all Albion fans ,may the force be with you.

    Mike Plant(Albion Fan)

    July 16, 2009

  16. To John,

    Pure Celtic Legend who fought for the Green and White Hoops and won over some many Tic fans with his heart and RANGERS goals.

    Best of luck in your latest fight big man.

    Ingram (Celtic Fan)

    July 16, 2009

  17. all the best big man YNWA.

    JOE CELTIC FAN

    July 16, 2009

  18. wishing big John a speedy recovery loved him when he played for the hammers.

    jo (west ham fan)

    July 16, 2009

  19. John and Family

    Hey big man, the world needs guys like you, we will all fight this with you.

    football fan.

    Alan

    July 16, 2009

  20. Just arrived back from holiday to hear your awful news, have been praying for you since I heard. Keep your chin up John you can beat this. x

    Ann (Celtic Fan)

    July 16, 2009

  21. Youll Never Walk Alone John . Stick in Big Man . Were all Praying for you

    Fighting Spirit

    July 16, 2009

  22. All of Wales has your back John “Cmon”
    God bless you and the family

    Kay Wales/Cardiff Fan

    July 16, 2009

  23. I was lucky enough to spend an hour on a train with john last april,HE was both polite and freindly,A very down to earth man.I just want to wish him a full recovery and say you can beat this john .tony maritime chef

    tony elson

    July 16, 2009

  24. You are a true gentle giant John,you have the strength and courage to beat this illness.You are in our hearts minds and prayers. God bless you.

    brian mcs

    July 16, 2009

  25. John,
    hAVING FOUGHT TESTICULAR CANCER MYSELF IN THE LAST FEW MONTHS -
    FACE THE CHALLENGES AHEAD, BE STRONG ,STAY POSITIVE AND EVEN THOUGH THE CHEMO MIGHT BE TOUGH YOU CAN DO IT BIG MAN

    John Thomson

    July 16, 2009

  26. big man you can beat this u are a fighter thinking of you….

    mark williams

    mark williams

    July 16, 2009

  27. You’ll make it through big John.
    Gooners are praying for you.

    Phil Gooner

    July 16, 2009

  28. Get well soon big man the thoughts and prayers of my family and the whole Celtic family go out to you!!!

    Chris Cairns

    July 16, 2009

  29. Get well soon ‘big bad john’ all celtic fans everywhere pray for your full recovery.Hail hail!

    Toots

    July 16, 2009

  30. Keep fighting John, very best wishes to you and your family at this difficult time.
    Always remember you almost scoring against England, best save I ever saw live from Paul Robinson, it had to be from your header.
    Grimsby Town fan Steve

    Steve Roberts

    July 16, 2009

  31. All the best John
    Legend of Welsh football

    Rhyso

    July 16, 2009

  32. WISHING BIG JOHN HARTSON ALL THE VERY BEST. I PRAY FOR HIS SPEEDY RECOVERY.. AS A GERS SUPORTER THIS COMES FROM THE HEART!

    COOPERRFC

    July 16, 2009

  33. Hope you Pull through, battle like you use to on the pitch come on John!

    David Douglas

    July 16, 2009

  34. The Big C does not respect boundaries or rules and certainly does not play a fair game or hand. My thoughts go out to John and his family at this time.
    I pray that you pull through and get to inspire others.

    Captain Slog star date 16/07/09

    Captain Slog

    July 16, 2009

  35. get well soon big man see you at paradise soon all our love and support at the celtic family

    william

    July 17, 2009

  36. Big man you can pull through this!
    My thoughts and prayers are with you
    The larrson and hartson partnership up front….unstoppable!

    Celtic fan

    July 17, 2009

  37. Praying for you and your family.
    If anyone can beat this John, you can!

    lesley

    July 17, 2009

  38. Get well soon big man, my thought are with you and your family

    Pompey Chris

    July 17, 2009

  39. im a swansea man also met john in swansea, and a avid swansea city fan like john and also follow the gunners were john was at his best, i wish john my best wishes and luck to battle this horrid disease.ps best wishes to his family.

    simon

    July 17, 2009

  40. you can beat it john big strong lad come on fight it m8 ur not a quiter all my strength is with you god bless u

    steve lang

    July 17, 2009

  41. Get well soon john you were a top footballer and equally a top bloke my thoughts are with you and your family wishing you a
    speedy recovery
    villa fan duncan

    DUNCAN

    July 17, 2009

  42. praying for you big feller,you were a fighter on the pitch and you can fight this.god bless.shaun portsmouth fc.

    shaun

    July 17, 2009

  43. Such a sad story,And all happening so fast,As a Man City fan i never had the pleasure of having John play for us but i have always been an admirer of his,And i’m sure he will be remembered up at Celtic with the clubs legends of the past in years to come,Get well soon John

    Jonathan Bowden

    July 17, 2009

  44. JOHN
    IF WISHING CAN WORK MAGIC THEN NEVER ENDING THOUGHTS OF GET WELL WISHES ARE FROM ME TO YOU -
    WEST HAM FAN

    RITA WARD

    July 17, 2009

  45. yep very sad news indeed, John is old school and a regular guy, I really hope he pulls through, it is nice to see the kind comments across the football divide

    larry

    July 17, 2009

  46. met u at celtic dinner in belfast 3 years ago gentle giant of a man wishing u all the best big man no u will beat it

    celtic fan kilrea

    July 17, 2009

  47. Big John, a true legend of Welsh Football, I have no doubt you’ll pull through this, if anyone can beat this horrific illness then it’s you bigman.

    You’ve been an inspiration throughout your career, a true professional and a top bloke. Get well soon and we’ll be seeing that big frame on our screens once again very soon.

    Ashley Burge

    July 17, 2009

  48. You can get through this John!
    My thoughts and prayers r with you.
    You were amazing at celtic, just keep thinking about all the good times and, you’ll pull through this
    xx

    Fiona

    July 17, 2009

  49. To All the Hartson Family

    Sending my love and prayers to you all at this difficult time, I used to work with brother James at Kennington, so my thoughts are very much with you now

    Sally Garside

    July 17, 2009

  50. All the best, John. You can do it.

    Hammer Always

    July 17, 2009

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