Canaries star on women’s football, goal celebrations and that penalty at Spurs
A genuine interest in women’s football, working on a new goal celebration and the story behind his superb penalty at Tottenham were just some of the topics covered as Norwich City fans got to know Todd Cantwell a little bit better during lockdown.
The England Under-21 midfielder caught up with Canaries fans on Instagram as football’s suspension continued into a 10th week.
Cantwell has enjoyed a positive first season in the top flight, scoring six goals in 29 games to boost his profile significantly, appearing alongside Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton in publicity shots for Puma just a few weeks before lockdown started in the UK in March.
Chatting with his friend The Movement Coach, also known as Ryan Elton, formerly a Canaries academy coach and now in charge of the under-16s at Cambridge United, the 22-year-old answered a host of questions – from City team-mate Jamal Lewis being one of his best friends in football, to liking the music of Justin Bieber, Italian food and tennis, Cantwell also said he’s been enjoying The Barcelona Way documentary during his lockdown time at home.
He also revealed an interest in women’s football, saying: “My sister is a footballer, she plays for Cambridge United Women and as much as I possibly can I get down to support her, just as she does for me - and I enjoy watching the women’s game grow.
“It’s important, I think, because young girls want to become footballers as well and I think the England Women and the players around it are doing fantastically to promote the game.
“It’s come on leaps and bounds from when we were younger and I used to watch Amber, you can watch games on TV now and I think it’s fantastic.”
Cantwell’s brother, Jordan, also plays football locally for Gorleston.
“My brother is a good player as well,” he added. “We’re lucky as a family that we’re all quite talented in terms of football but as kids we all worked hard for it, we used to play in the garden for a long time - until mum and dad would say to come inside.
“So it’s nice to have a brother and sister that, one, support me as much as they do but, two, have an understanding so you appreciate their opinion a lot more.”
Having emerged as a creative talent from City’s academy following a successful loan spell in the Dutch second tier at Fortuna Sittard, Cantwell has been linked with transfer interest from Premier League big boys including Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham.
He showed his mentality for the big stage prior to football’s suspension with a ruthless penalty into the top corner during City’s shoot-out success at Spurs in the FA Cup fifth round - with a video of him calmly juggling the ball on his way to the penalty spot going viral online.
“I was very tired,” Cantwell recalled. “I’ve gone up to it with the mentality that, if I miss this, on the back-burner was that I thought I’d played well, we’d managed to do well against a great team and against great individuals at a fantastic stadium.
“So it’s kind of like a moment thing and I was stood next to Max (Aarons) and I said to him ‘I’m going to chip it down the middle, everyone’s going in the corners’.
“He looked at me and said ‘are you nervous?’ and I said no, and he thought I was going to chip it down the middle. When I got down there, I thought, the humiliation of chipping it and missing would be horrendous - although I thought it would have been a good thing to do, because the keeper would have dived, I’m sure.
“As I’ve gone up there, I thought I’m just going to do what I always used to do as a kid, my dad always used to tell me to try and hit the triangles, the triangles of the net, at the top or the bottom.
“I wrapped it, put some extra power into it and found the top corner, so the keepy-ups before were more to calm myself, with the nerves, but honestly, hand on heart I didn’t feel that nervous going into it.
“It’s moments like that you play for. I’d have bitten your hand off for that if you’d have told me that’s what I’d be doing 10 years ago.”
Cantwell’s surf-style goal celebrations have also proved popular online - but he may no longer be riding that particular wave when the season restarts.
“I think the surf has run its course now,” he added. “I’m happy with how it went down and I love to see that kids are recreating it in videos and having a laugh with it.
“Football is about enjoyment, you’ve got to enjoy it with a smile on your face and scoring a goal is such an unbelievable feeling, so why not try to embrace it to more people and have a laugh with it.
“There will hopefully be a new one - I’ve got an idea of what it’ll be, but it’s not coming out yet.”