Michael Chopra: Talentspotter

Former Cardiff and Newcastle striker Michael Chopra talks to FourFourTwo back in 2002.

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Full name
Rocky Michael Chopra

Newcastle 23/12/83

Just 'Chops'

Striker. I started on the right wing, but when I got to about 12 or 13, I decided to go up front because that's where all the players who were making the headlines played.

Peter Beardsley and Andy Cole from watching them playing for Newcastle.

I like to get the ball behind defenders. I'll make runs down the channels, sort of how Michael Owen does, rather than get the ball to feet and hold it up, like Alan Shearer.

My left foot. It's a bit of a swinger, but I've been working on it all last season.

Who do you play like?
Probably Michael Owen and I'm quite similar to Craig Bellamy.

Tell us about Bobby Robson...
He's a different class. He pulls you aside and tells you what you're doing wrong. He's worked with so many good players, like Ronaldo, and he gives you advice on what to do in a certain situation. He just says, "You don't have to take my advice, just see what happens in the game." I've played in the reserves and Bobby Robson's said to me: "We'll have to get you playing in the first team soon. He's got my name wrong. He's called me Shola [Ameobi] a couple of times. It's funny because he's called Shola Carl Cort a couple of times as well. It's a bit of a joke among the lads.

Career Highlight
Scoring the winning goal at Wembley for England Under-16s against Argentina in 1999. It was 1-1 with five minutes to go. We had a shot, the keeper parried it and it came out to me, so I just smashed it in. There were 20,000 people there and I just went wild. Everybody was jumping on top of me.

Biggest Influence
Probably my mum and dad. They come and watch all my games and afterwards they'll tell me honestly how I played. My dad got to play for Newcastle boys but had a knee injury and had to have his cartilage taken out, so he couldn't carry on. I suppose I'm living out his dream.

I've got a brand new Golf – my first car.

Mostly R 'n' B

I've started playing golf – as a footballer you have to! I also like playing on my computer. I like Championship Manager. I fancy myself as a bit of a manager.

Favourite film
I've just seen Panic Room and I really enjoyed it. I like action films really, but I'll watch a bit of everything. I'm not really into romantic films. They're boring mush.

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Probably Victoria Beckham. She's a bit of a favourite of mine.

A funny thing happened...
Andy Griffin glued Craig Bellamy's trainers to the floor. I haven't been a victim yet.

If you weren't playing football...?
I'd probably do something to do with football. Unfortunately, there are no hidden talents.

Interview: Louis Massarella. From the August 2002 issue of FourFourTwo.