Premier League Career: Wolverhampton Wanderers (2009-2012), West Ham United (2012-2015), Norwich City (2015-2016)
Middlesbrough-born Matt Jarvis is now 31 and has experienced the highs of being capped by England in his career. Unfortunately, injuries and a bad career move to West Ham United in 2012 have seen his footballing spell hindered. He is still with Norwich City in the SkyBet Championship but his total of just 16 appearances in two and a half campaigns shows the battles he constantly seems to be having with the treatment table.
Jarvis got a decent upbringing before making his impact on the football field. His parents both were professional table tennis players and among the best in Britain at the time. With 10 GCSE qualifications, Matt excelled in his education but football was his pure love and he tried to make his mark at Millwall as a youth team player. It didn’t quite work out as hoped in London but Gillingham rescued him from the scrapheap, signing him initially as a trainee. The Kent-based club were forced to give him a first-team debut at the age of just 17 in the Football League when a flu bug crippled their senior players. He impressed enough to earn his first professional deal before the end of the 2003-2004 campaign.
He would make over 100 appearances for Gillingham and plenty of higher-profile clubs expressed an interest in his services. Nottingham Forest and Plymouth Argyle both had transfer bids rebuffed but Wolverhampton Wanderers were more successful and snapped him up in June 2007 with Matt stalling over a contract extension at the Priestfield Stadium. Hip and groin injuries delayed his debut for Wolves by three months but he quickly became a key player for the Midlands club and helped them win promotion back to the Premier League after a five-year exile in 2009.
Jarvis continued to shine in the Premier League, scoring three goals in 2009-2010 as Wolves avoided relegation with a strong second half of the campaign. His goals included an equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Hull City and the third goal in an impressive performance away at Upton Park. His form and goals ratio improved in the following season, even if the team continued to battle against survival. Jarvis’ highlight for the club in 2010-2011 was a winning goal in a local derby with Midlands rivals Aston Villa. However, his personal success came a few days after this winner at Villa Park. He was selected by Fabio Capello for the England international squad for games against Wales and Ghana. He was unused in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium against the Welsh but came off the bench to feature at Wembley against the Africans. In doing so, he became the first Wolverhampton Wanderers player to feature for England since Steve Bull back in 1990. It would turn out to be his solitary international cap.
His best goalscoring season followed in 2011-2012, netting eight times including two goals in an entertaining 4-4 draw away at Swansea City. Unfortunately by this point, Wolves’ relegation back to the Championship had been confirmed and it was evident that he would have to leave Molineux to further his career.
West Ham United were the club who pursued him vigorously in the summer of 2012 and he eventually joined them in August for a club-record fee. The early signs were encouraging. Jarvis scored the opening goal in a 2-1 victory at Queens Park Rangers in October and he featured in 32 matches for Sam Allardyce. During the season, Matt made 171 open-play crosses in the Premier League which was the most for any outfield player in 2012-2013. The next two seasons were a real struggle though and he was loaned out to Norwich City for the 2015-2016 campaign. He scored on his Canaries’ debut in a 3-1 home triumph over AFC Bournemouth and quickly made the loan a permanent move. Norwich paid £2.5 million for his services which suggested a huge financial loss to West Ham, who had forked out over £10 million for the player three seasons earlier.
His last full game in professional football came in May 2016 when Norwich lost 3-0 on the final day of the 2015-2016 season to Everton. A knee ligament injury followed that pre-season which initially ruled the winger out for three months. Further setbacks have followed since which has restricted him to just one 90-minute appearance in the EFL Trophy last December against a Swansea City Under-23 side. It remains unclear whether he will play again at the top level.
Matt Jarvis is another example of a player who had plenty of talent which was shown at more unfashionable clubs but struggled when it came to replicating this for higher-profile teams. Whilst all hope he can bounce back from the injury niggles at Norwich, it is highly likely that he has already seen the best days in his career.