Roberts, a centre-forward, made his debut against local rivals, Blackburn Rovers, in 1919. Tommy Roberts had a great first season at Preston and ended up with a total of 29 goals. This made him the club's top scorer and he repeated this achievement for the next four seasons: 1920-21 (25), 1921-22 (25), 1922-23 (29) and 1923-24 (26).
In November 1923 Roberts got his first international cap against Belgium. He played well enough to be picked for England's next game against Wales. Despite scoring in both games, Roberts never played for England again.
In 1924 Roberts signed for Burnley. In the previous five seasons he had scored 118 goals in 199 games for Preston North End. His former club missed his goals and in the first season without him, finished in 21st place in the league and were relegated. Roberts also did well for Burnley scoring 28 goals in 49 games. His goals kept the club in the First Division.
Roberts returned to Preston North End in 1926. Once again he became the clubs scorer with 30 goals in the 1926-27 season. This included all four in a 4-2 FA Cup victory at Lincoln City. However, it was not enough to get Preston promoted from the Second Division.
In 1927 Roberts broke his arm in a car crash. He also had knee problems and left the club at the end of the season. All told, he scored 157 goals in 254 games for the club.
Tommy Roberts, who worked as a publication in Preston for 30 years, died on 13th October, 1965.