Bluebird Focus | Eddie Johnson
“USA! USA! USA!”
Ninian Park may have been an unlikely setting to hear such a chant, but it became commonplace on the terraces in the ground’s final year, thanks to a certain Eddie Johnson.
Then 24 years of age, the United States international arrived in South Wales in the summer of 2008 and, despite making just 33 loan appearances in the shirt, left CF11 as a cult hero.
On his 36th birthday, we take a look back at Eddie's time in the Welsh capital...
The road to Ninian
Eddie had made a name for himself from an early age in the MLS, scoring over 40 league goals by the age of 23 and becoming a seasoned USMNT international.
A move to the Premier League’s Fulham was to follow, but after struggling for game-time at Craven Cottage, he soon found himself in the Welsh capital.
City had reached the 2008 FA Cup Final just three months before, with their Cup exploits helping to convince Eddie that it was the right move for him.
“I learned a lot about Cardiff City as they reached the FA Cup Final,” he said at the time.
“That was one of the reasons, when Cardiff City wanted me to join them on loan, I was so keen. They have offered me a fantastic opportunity.
“People here in Britain eat, drink and sleep football. It’s an ambition of mine to make an impact – and now I want to do that with Cardiff City.”
I saw Eddie score
The hustle and bustle of Championship football was a far cry from Eddie’s upbringing in the game and it did take him some time to adapt.
However, his breakthrough came in the spring of 2009, as we hosted Doncaster Rovers at Ninian Park.
He had been named Man of the Match as City put three past Barnsley earlier in the week, and the free-scoring Bluebirds were two to the good against Donny, with Michael Chopra and Jay Bothroyd finding the back of the net.
Peter Whittingham then picked the ball up on the right flank and squared the ball to Eddie, who cut inside before curling it into the bottom corner – his first goal for the Bluebirds met with a bellowing roar from the Ninian faithful.
Under the lights
His first goal will live long in the memory of the supporters present on that day, while his next one will always have its place in the history books.
Indeed, Eddie was the last player to score under Ninian Park’s floodlights, with the historic strike coming a month later against Derby County.
Goals from Roger Johnson, Gavin Rae and Bothroyd had put City in a commanding position, before Eddie stole the ball and raced past the Rams’ back-line.
Time seemed to stand still, before he dispatched the ball past Steven Bywater to create a piece of Ninian history.
His 90th minute own goal at the other end did little to dampen spirits as the ground’s final night game ended with a 4-1 City victory.