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Why Norfolk became John Ruddy’s life goal

PUBLISHED: 06:58 11 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:56 12 May 2017

Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy says farewell to the Carrow Road faithful at the end of the 4-0 win over QPR. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy says farewell to the Carrow Road faithful at the end of the 4-0 win over QPR. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Departing Canaries keeper John Ruddy has told how Norfolk will always be a special place for him. No wonder, says Nick Conrad.

I read with great interest the comments of John Ruddy on his release from Norwich City. His thoughts, published in the EDP, struck a chord with me. The goalkeeper arrived from Everton in 2010 and has spent the most significant years of his career as a Canary – but it appears the county as well as the club has had a major bearing on John’s life.

Undoubtedly John Ruddy has had the chance to move away from Norwich. In previous transfer windows he’s been linked with illustrious clubs such as Arsenal and Chelsea. The temptation to ditch ‘little Norwich’ and move to a club paying telephone numbers is obvious- so what stops players like John? Is Norfolk really the ‘graveyard of ambition?’

The club has decided not to extend various players contracts in their on-going attempt to slash the wage bill. What consistently appears in their exit interviews is their love of our local geography. One suspects their agents, when convincing them to join the Canaries, had to employ the services of a map to identify where Norwich was located. Now they’ve spent time here, it’s hard to prise them away.

Many of us feel the quality of life in our county outweighs the career opportunities we would be offered elsewhere. When considering what’s best for our children, our families and our wellbeing, our vocations are of course important. However, it’s a balance between career ambition and the wonderful benefits of living in a beautiful environment like Norfolk. I’m lucky enough to have travelled in my career. I love London and spent considerable time there – I’d happily live there again. However, I’m glad I’m not bringing up children in the capital.

I live on the North Norfolk coast. New research has suggested that living at the seaside boosts mental health, makes people happier and more relaxed. In fact, the health advantages linked to a coastal home are so pronounced, scientists behind the study say more flats and affordable property should be built along Britain’s shores so increased numbers of people can benefit. Ironically, another study has identified coastal towns as struggling economically, with residents desperate to access decently-paid jobs. The same pros and cons can be applied across our entire county.

So does Norfolk erode our life goals? Is it the graveyard of ambition? No! Ambition isn’t just confined to careers. Many of us could earn more money, climb the ladder or further our careers elsewhere. Great for our monthly paycheck, however the streets of the big cities might be ‘paved with gold’ but can lack ‘chicken soup for the soul!’ Many of my friends who stayed in London after I left have struggled to get on the property ladder or settle down or move forward with life away from work.

There are points in your life, especially if you have creative ambitions, where selfishness is necessary. But children tend to change perspectives and alter priorities. So footballers like many other professionals might succumb to the temptation to go ‘rural’ and this is a great selling point for Norwich City. I wish Norwich City legend John Ruddy and his family all the best. And though he might be leaving the club, I’d point to many other footballers who when moving clubs opt to keep their family home in this very special county.

It’s many people’s belief that graveyards lead to heaven. Well Norfolk, for many, is a utopia on earth in comparison to the urban jungle.

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