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David Hirst (footballer)

David Eric Hirst (born 7 December 1967) is an English former professional footballer, a striker who played for Sheffield Wednesday for much of his career. He was also capped three times at senior level for the England team.

David Hirst
Personal information
Full name David Hirst
Date of birth (1967-12-07) 7 December 1967 (age 51)
Place of birth Barnsley, England
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1985–1986 Barnsley 28 (9)
1986–1997 Sheffield Wednesday 294 (106)
1997–2000 Southampton 30 (9)
Total 352 (124)
National team
1988–1989 England U21 7 (1)
1991–1992 England B 3 (2)
1991–1992 England 3 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Playing careerEdit


Born in Cudworth, Barnsley, Hirst turned professional in 1985 with his local side, Barnsley. His debut season saw him score nine goals in 28 Second Division games.

Sheffield WednesdayEdit

On 11 August 1986, he signed for Sheffield Wednesday. He was brought to Wednesday by then manager Howard Wilkinson, just before the start of the 1986–87 season. The fee was £250,000. Barnsley's financial troubles saw the young striker sold. His Owls debut came against Charlton Athletic which was the first game of the season as Wednesday began the season away in a 1–1 First Division draw on 23 August 1986. However the following week he made his Hillsborough debut as a substitute against Everton in front of over 33,000 and he scored within minutes of entering the field. He would go on to make 21 league appearances that season, scoring six goals. By 1988–89 he was firmly established in the first team.[citation needed]

He became a firm favourite and an idol of the Wednesday supporters, scoring 149 goals in 358 appearances during his eleven years at the club.[1] He was capped three times for England, and scored once. He even managed to score and keep a clean sheet in the same match, (a 2–0 victory over Manchester City in January 1990) after he replaced an injured Kevin Pressman in goal.

In 1991, Hirst scored 32 goals as Wednesday were promoted back to the First Division at the first attempt, including a 4-goal haul against Hull City (a 5–1 win) on 1 September 1990. This form led to him being called up for the England B international against Switzerland, in which he scored both England goals in a 2–1 win. He was subsequently called into the full England squad for the tour of Australasia.

He made his international debut in the 1–0 win over Australia, but was replaced at half-time. He was named as a substitute in the next game against New Zealand. He came on at half-time and within three minutes of the restart he scored his first (and only) England goal. With Gary Lineker injured, he lined up with Alan Shearer against France at Wembley. Bryan Robson said that, "It's not a question of who will replace Lineker, but who will partner David Hirst".[citation needed] It became Hirst's third and final England match. Although he was selected for more England squads, injuries kept him out of the team.

Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson tried six times to tempt Owls boss Trevor Francis to sell Hirst, but without success.[citation needed] Two of these occasions were in 1992. First, after a shortage of goals in the second half of the 1991–92 season had cost United the championship, Ferguson attempted to sign Hirst during the close season, but the offer was refused. In November 1992, with United's title challenge flagging once again due to a shortage of goals, Ferguson offered the Owls £3million for Hirst, but the offer was rejected and United signed Eric Cantona instead.

In 1992 during a game at Highbury, Hirst suffered a broken ankle. It was the start of his injury problems. He still scored in the game and managed 16 goals in 33 games. In the same season Hirst played in the Sheffield Wednesday team that reached both domestic Finals – they lost both to Arsenal, but Hirst scored Wednesday's equaliser in the FA Cup Final at Wembley in a 1–1 draw before Arsenal won the replay 2–1.

The injuries mounted up and from August 1993 to May 1995 he played just 25 games and scored five goals. After two more years at Hillsborough and the odd glimpses of form from Hirst, he was sold by manager David Pleat to Southampton after he had emerged fit once again returning to the Owls first team.


His exit from the Owls came on 17 October 1997, when Southampton manager Dave Jones paid a club record £2million for his services. He made his debut the next day in a 1–0 home defeat by Blackburn Rovers in the league, and in his first season at The Dell scored nine times in 28 league games as the Saints finished 11th in the Premier League. Highlights of this season include scoring twice against Tottenham Hotspur in his second appearance,[2] and scoring twice again as Southampton beat Liverpool at Anfield.[3] Hirst also scored the only goal as his side beat Leeds United 1–0 at Elland Road.[4]

However, his injury problems returned in the 1998–99 season and he played just twice – these games were the last of his career. He retired from playing on 26 January 2000, at the age of 32, after being advised to do so by medical experts.[citation needed]

Style of playEdit

Hirst was often considered a rare breed of 'total striker'[5] and was blessed with pace, height, heading, strength, dribbling, creativity and being in the right place at the right time. Although predominantly left footed, he had an excellent right foot too and scored some spectacular goals from range with both feet.

Hirst previously held the record for the fastest recorded shot, hitting the bar at 114 mph against Arsenal at Highbury in September 1996.[6]

Coaching careerEdit

In April 2013, Hirst was appointed as a coach in the Sheffield Wednesday academy set up.[7]

International goalEdit

Scores and results list England's goal tally first.[8]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 8 June 1991 Athletic Park, Wellington   New Zealand 2–0 2–0 Friendly


Sheffield Wednesday


  1. ^ "INTERVIEW With Ex-Owls Defender Juan Cobian". Vital Sheffield Wednesday. 27 July 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Southampton 3 Tottenham 2". Sporting Life. 25 October 1997. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Owen omens comfort poor Liverpool". The Independent. 9 February 1998. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  4. ^ "Palmer sees red as Saints sink Leeds". BBC. 28 February 1998. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  5. ^ "David Hirst – Archive –". Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  6. ^ " – Win a Cup Final ball". 19 May 2004. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Hirst back on board". Sheffield Wednesday F.C. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  8. ^ "David Hirst profile". European Football. Retrieved 17 January 2012.

External linksEdit