City keeper saves day at Wembley

PUBLISHED: 10:48 30 April 2007 | UPDATED: 10:16 14 September 2010

Goalkeeper Declan Rudd became the first Norwich City player to appear at the new Wembley Stadium on Saturday- and didn't waste the chance to make a name for himself.

Goalkeeper Declan Rudd became the first Norwich City player to appear at the new Wembley Stadium on Saturday- and didn't waste the chance to make a name for himself.

The 16-year-old from Diss came on for the second half of the England Under-16s friendly against Spain, and helped preserve a 1-0 win with a save in the very last seconds of the game - all in front of a crowd of more than 28,000.

“The shot came low at me and it was a case of stopping it and also keeping my hands on it because there were a few Spanish players around me ready to follow up,” said the lifelong Diss High School pupil.

Rudd had set the tone for a good outing after replacing Fulham's Wesley Foderingham, with a take from a corner in the early minutes - swiftly followed by a good throw which set up an England attack.

It eased the nerves - although Rudd is now getting used to the big game atmosphere after his debut in December, when he helped Kenny Swain's team to a 2-1 win over Scotland which decided the Victory Shield.

“I wouldn't say I was nervous, more excited about the prospect of playing at Wembley.” said Rudd, who had the support of not only all his family, but also a busload of fellow pupils from Diss.

And his verdict on the new home of English football?

“It is really unbelievable,” said Rudd, a lifelong Canaries fan. “To play there for an England team - I just can't find the words to describe it properly.

“To be the first Norwich player to play there is such an honour and one that I will never forget. I used to watch Norwich every week when I was younger so I was very proud.

“The playing surface was perfect, like playing on a carpet, and the dressing rooms are unbelievable. You have your own little cubicle where you keep all your stuff and there's a warm-up area and all the usual baths and showers - but the dressing rooms are a huge building themselves.”

It's back to Colney this week, and while first team boss Peter Grant struggles to solve his goalkeeping situation, the signs are good for the future, with Rudd one of a trio of promising young City keepers.

Under-18s stopper Steven Arnold is waiting in the wings, followed by Rudd, a member of the Under 16s squad who has been offered a two-year scholarship when the new season gets underway, and under-14s player Jed Steer.

“It's good to have the competition because that means the quality of play improves,” said Rudd. “It helps everyone get the best out of each other.”

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