Striker Neil Roberts joined the Tigers on loan in January 2002 to provide cover for the suspended Gary Alexander. After two starts in four days to cover Alexander’s absence, Roberts remained with the club for another four weeks, came off the bench in three games and deputised for Lawrie Dudfield against Hartlepool. He returned to his parent club Wigan the end of February.
Neil Wyn Roberts was born in Wrexham and came through the youth ranks at his local club in the mid-1990s and signed his first professional contract in July 1996 before emabarking on a loan spell at Bangor City. He made his first team debut for Wrexham off the bench against Chesterfield in September 1997 and when he made his first start against Carlisle United in November 1997 he scored twice. Given the centre forward’s shirt, Neil also scored in the next three matches and rapidly established himself as a first team fixture. Though he understandably couldn’t maintain a five goals in four games ratio, Roberts remained in the Wrexham first team for a year and a half until an injury cut short his season in February 1999. He returned in October 1999 and was again amongst the goals, scoring eight times in 21 comeback appearances.
In February 2000 Roberts joined Wigan Athletic for a £500,000 fee and he opened account for the Latics in a May 2000 2-2 draw at Bournemouth. He made 39 appearances in the 2000/01 season, half from the bench, as Wigan qualified for the play-offs but lost to Reading at the semi-final stage. Roberts was on the fringes of the Wigan first team in the 2001/02 prior to his loan move to Hull City, though he had scored a brace in September against Cambridge United. When he returned to Wigan in late February he made a handful of further appearances off the bench and scored another brace to rescue an April 2002 2-2 draw at Colchester.
The next two seasons followed a similar pattern as Roberts started occasional games and at other times was used as impact substitute. By September 2004 he had made 145 appearances for the Latics and scored 22 goals. After a brief loan spell at Bradford where he scored once in four appearances, Neil joined Doncaster Rovers in October 2004. Over the next two seasons at Doncaster he scored 8 goals in 68 appearances, then in August 2006 he returned to his first club Wrexham, now languishing at the foot of the League Division 2 table. In two seasons he added 58 appearances and 13 goals to the 92 appearances and 24 goals he contributed in his first spell, but in May 2008 the North Wales side finished bottom of the Football League and suffered relegation to the Conference National. Roberts left Wrexham in the 2008 close season and spent a season at Rhyl FC, combining playing and coaching duties, scoring 23 goals and lifting the Welsh Premier League title. However he hung up his boots in 2009 and joined the backroom technical staff at Manchester City’s Academy.
Roberts made three Under-21 appearances for Wales during his first spell at Wrexham and won his first senior cap in October 1999 in European Championships qualifier against Switzerland played at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. Three further caps came in 2002 against Azerbaijan, 2003 against USA and 2004 against Norway.
Date/Place of Birth: 7 April 1978, Wrexham
Hull City First Game: 26 January 2002, Shrewsbury Town H (League Division 3), 23 years, 294 days old
Hull City Final Game: 22 February 2002, Macclesfield Town H (League Division 3), 23 years, 321 days old
Wrexham (1994-2000), Bangor City (1996, loan), Wigan Athletic (2000-2004), Hull City (2002, loan), Bradford City (2004, loan), Doncaster Rovers (2004-2006), Wrexham (2006-2008), Rhyl (2008-2009)
Hull City Record
Career: 6 apps, 0 goalsNeil Roberts