"If anyone wants to kick me all over the place, it will be a good fight in the end" - Norwich legend Grant Holt relishing the chance to get stuck in for King's Lynn
He was the main man in the Premier League for Norwich City and Grant Holt is well aware he will be a big-name scalp in the Southern Premier Division - but tells DAVID FREEZER he's as up for the fight as ever.
Bulldozing his way through defences and leading from the front made Grant Holt a hero at Norwich City – but can he still do it at 36 years old?
Strength, tenacity, aggression and a ruthless desire to win saw the burly centre-forward lead the Canaries from League One to the Premier League in famous style.
His efforts deserved an England chance – former Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has since admitted he thought long and hard about the prospect – and now Holt is taking his talents to King’s Lynn.
Unveiled alongside fellow City favourite Simon Lappin at The Walks yesterday, the duo are in line to make their first appearances for the Linnets tonight, in a home clash with Hitchin which is expected to draw a big crowd.
Defenders will no doubt be keen to frustrate the striker, who scored 15 goals in the Premier League in 2011-12, this season but Holt knows what to expect.
After being released by hometown club Carlisle United at 18 he played for Workington and worked as a tyre-fitter, with a short spell in the Football League with Halifax as well as loan stints in Australia and Singapore following, before success in the Northern Premier League with Barrow took him to Sheffield Wednesday.
That is the same level that Lynn currently compete, at the third step of the non-league pyramid, and Holt is showing all the signs that he is relishing the prospect of returning to the battleground.
“The thing is now no-one can make a reputation for themselves because they can’t kick you as hard as they used to!” Holt joked.
“When I first started playing, every time if you were a centre-forward and you got the ball, you were lucky if you weren’t two-footed from behind – and if they touched the ball, that was all-right, it was play on.
“So you kind of got used to that and you took your knocks, you dust yourself down and you get on with it. Football is football wherever you go, when people make signings you do it because it’s right, not just because of the name. I wouldn’t be signed here if Ian Culverhouse didn’t think I could do a fantastic job for his team.
“It’s not a given that if you stick Grant Holt in you’ll get people through the door, that’s not the case. But other teams will probably have a look at it and think ‘yeah, we’ll have a go’ so they’ll try and up their game but if they have the right type of mentality they should have been doing that anyway.
“We’ll be all-right, we’re big strong boys and can handle ourselves, I’m sure if anyone wants to go toe to toe and kick me all over the place, it will be a good fight in the end.”
That nomadic beginning to his career continued at Rochdale, Nottingham Forest and Blackpool before finally finding success in League Two with Shrewsbury and continuing with Norwich.
After signing in a deal worth around £500,000 in the summer of 2009 an awesome 78 goals in 168 games followed, placing him sixth in City’s all-time top scorers.
He was deemed surplus to requirements by Chris Hughton in 2013 and sold to Wigan for around £2m at 32 years old, dropping back down to the Championship.
The move never really worked out and – after finishing 2013-14 on loan at Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa side – a loan move to Huddersfield was cut short by a serious knee injury.
Loans to Wolves and Rochdale wound down Holt’s time with Wigan and he completed his career in the professional ranks by helping Hibernian win the Scottish Championship title last season, scoring seven goals in 37 matches in all competitions.
He has chosen to join up with Lambert’s former assistant, Lynn boss Ian Culverhouse, to help push for promotion to the National League set-up on the pitch and continue his coaching education at the same time.
“I feel that coming here, they’ve got a good group of players who can achieve something, the chairman knows what he wants to do and it’s just the right fit really,” continued Holt, who has been living back in Norfolk for the last 18 months.
“Sometimes you get a feeling, like when I went to Shrewsbury and left Nottingham Forest, dropped down the divisions to go there and it was the right move so sometimes you’ve got to go with your gut.
“And the good thing is I get to work with Ian Culverhouse again and I spoke to him about coaching and being involved in that sort of stuff, like I started with Hibs last year, with playing games and taking the under-20s and it worked really well.
“It gives me the opportunity to do both sides of what I want to be, which is to go into coaching and management.”
• Tickets for tonight’s match at The Walks are priced at £12 for adults and £10 for concessions, with seating an extra £1. See KLTown.co.uk for full details