City new boy Hugill on Mr Nasty tag and unfinished business
PUBLISHED: 17:39 27 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:39 27 August 2020
Jordan Hugill is not out to win any popularity contests. But he is threatening to acquire cult status in record time with Norwich City fans.
The strapping ex-West Ham striker declared he relishes “battering defenders out of the way” when he was unveiled by the Canaries earlier this week. He also went onto state he was an ‘old school’ striker who can get on the end of things inside the penalty box.
Both traits were evident during his second-half debut in Wednesday’s pre-season win over Dynamo Dresden. In word and in deed Hugill already looks the part.
Daniel Farke insisted after the latest pre-season success the 28-year-old is a “perfect fit” for a club looking to shake the stain of relegation and re-assert themselves on the Championship.
“People might think I am not a nice person when they see me on the pitch but I have to get myself into that mode where I don’t like anybody because I am playing for me team and I want to win,” said Hugill, speaking at the club’s German tour base. “If that means bashing around defenders and trying to upset them and making them focus on me then that means we have a lot of players in pockets who can get on the ball.
“I have a job to do but I am completely different off the pitch.
“When I came on the other day I said to Kenny (McLean), ‘the first thing I want to do is give the centre back one because he shoved over Teemu (Pukki) in the first half’.
“For me, now, I need to get settled at a club again and be somewhere that will be pushing to play in the Premier League. Whatever happened at West Ham, happened. I am not bitter.
“I am just pleased I have a new route to try and progress to the Premier League, so the end goal has not changed. It will be even sweeter coming up through promotion.”
That West Ham experience could have scarred many footballers. Hugill arrived for a reported £8m from Preston in 2018 but made just three appearances in two years. Hammers’ chief David Moyes made it crystal clear those odds were unlikely to improve.
But when you have come up the hard way through non league, and only made the professional ranks at 21, you carry a sharper sense of perspective.
“If that move came about again at the same time in my career I would make the same decision, 100,000 times over. I don’t regret it at all,” he said. “For that time in my career I learnt so much about football.
“I was working behind a bar six or seven years ago. If you had told me then that I was going to play in the Premier League I would have laughed and chucked you out of the bar.
“I was grateful for everything they gave me. I didn’t think it would happen. It did. I made my debut and I have a nice commemorative ball in my house that says ‘Premier League debut’ so I have those memories.
“I want more of those memories.
“I want to prove to the people who believed in me at West Ham to take me there in the first place I am that Premier League player.
“For me, personally, when they said I wasn’t going to get much playing time I wanted to go somewhere I can play, score goals, and get back to the Premier League. That was why Norwich is a no-brainer.”
Hugill forged his goalscoring reputation at Preston, where former City chief Alex Neil helped polish a rough diamond.
“He was brilliant for me. I got on really well with him. Probably because I was honest and hard-working, which is how I was brought up, and he liked those traits in me,” said the Middlesbrough born frontman. “I still speak to him now or whenever we play Preston.
“We had that respect between us that when West Ham came in he knew it was an unbelievable move for me and the club.
“Preston didn’t have to let me go, but he knew how well I was playing and couldn’t say no.
“Preston was amazing. I basically started my career there properly after I got myself into the team. I was proving to myself I could score goals in League One and the Championship. Then I became consistent and established myself at Championship level.
“Those six months with Alex I was playing my best football for Preston. I will always say I warranted a move because I was flying.
“I had scored 10 goals by Christmas that year.”
What you see is what you get with Norwich’s new number nine. Honesty, hard work and a healthy disrespect for any opponent standing between him and the Canaries’ bid to plot a swift return to the big time.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone, but more importantly I’m looking forward to succeeding with everyone.”
• In part two on these channels on Friday morning Hugill reveals his thoughts on donning the Norwich number nine shirt and his goals pledge