Former footballer John Hartson is one of the country’s leading soccer pundits appearing regularly on ‘Match of the Day’ ‘Football Focus’ & BT Sports programmes. In his playing days John represented Arsenal, West Ham, Wimbledon, Celtic and West Bromwich Albion. He made over 400 professional appearances for these clubs and scored 167 goals. John is also known for his tireless work for the John Hartson Foundation which he set up after being diagnosed with cancer and going through emergency surgery.
He started his professional football career with Luton Town under the tutelage of David Pleat before moving to Arsenal, then on to West Ham and Wimbledon. However, it was his five-year stint at Celtic that saw his most successful spell scoring 88 goals in just 146 appearances and cementing his reputation as a fan favourite. Hartson was known as a traditional, uncompromising centre forward, strong in the air with a solid shot on goal. He won 51 caps for Wales scoring 14 times, something he is very proud of. Indeed, he is currently 9th top scorer of all time for his country. After leaving Celtic, he had a short spell with West Bromwich Albion before retiring from playing. Where for a time he was coach to the Wales International strikers.
On retirement, John got a break as a pundit for Setanta Sports (2008-09) for their Scottish Premier League output. Impressing, he featured on ITV’s coverage of The FA Cup, going on to be a regular contributor to BBC Radio 5 Lives coverage of Premier League & Champion Leagues games. Later he worked on prime football shows such as ‘Football Focus’, ‘Match of the Day’ as well as BT Sports. John speaks Welsh fluently and subsequently appears regularly on the S4C’s sports programme ‘Sgorio’. In 2011 he was asked to coach part-time at Newport county. John has always been a lifetime Swansea city fan and his Welsh roots mean a lot to him.
Not long after his retirement, John was diagnosed with testicular cancer which had spread to his brain. After receiving treatment, he was told the cancer had also moved to his lungs. Emergency surgery and more than sixty rounds of tough chemotherapy saved his life. Eventually, he was given the all clear. John set up ‘The John Hartson Foundation’ to help raise awareness about early detection, alongside his punditry work on several sports programmes including ‘Match of The Day’.
John is a regular on the after dinner speaking circuit where he is in great demand, discussing his playing career with all highs and lows plus stories on the players he worked alongside, but also spends time to urge his audiences to re-evaluate their problems through his own personal experiences. He talks profoundly on the determination to succeed, whether on a pitch or to beat cancer. John Hartson’s story is inspiring, entertaining and compelling.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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