Javier Garrido on playing for City, working under Chris Hughton and his love for paella
PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:29 10 April 2020
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Javier Garrido is a name most Norwich City supporters will remember with fondness, not least for the chant written for the left-back.
From that pinpoint cross that Anthony Pilkington headed beyond Anders Lindegaard in City’s famous 1-0 win over Sir Alex Ferguson’s men to a song about his love for paella, Garrido was a dependable full-back during his time at the club.
The Spaniard is one of a limited few who can apply for cult hero status at the club.
Even now, Garrido signs off his email response with ‘OTBC’, a sign of how highly he regards the club and how much he enjoyed playing for the Canaries.
More than anything else, there is an undercurrent of gratitude regarding how he speaks about his time in Norfolk. He was also keen to point out he still enjoys a dish of paella on occasion also.
“Haha! Yes, I still do like paella. I want to thank them all for a fantastic three years.”
Garrido is still playing in the third tier of Spanish football for Real Union, and is also putting in hours on the training pitches attempting to master his craft as a coach.
Asked whether he holds aspirations of becoming a future Norwich City boss, Garrido replies: “I’m now studying coaching, so maybe one day we will be allowed to see each other again.
“To be Norwich manager, you have to be very, very good. I am only just starting so I will take it step by step.”
The Spaniard signed for the Canaries in 2012 from Italian side Lazio, initially on loan prior to the move being made permanent at the end of the season.
He made 35 appearances in his debut year at the club, and recalls how enjoyable it was to work under then City boss Chris Hughton.
“My first season under Chris’ management was fantastic. We had a really good season and to end it by beating Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium was terrific.
“In my second year at the club, things changed a bit, but I’ll always be grateful to him for signing me and giving me the chance to play for Norwich,” he explains.
Garrido’s move to Carrow Road was made permanent in the summer of 2014, after a clause in his deal with City was triggered.
“I wasn’t comfortable in Italy, so it was an easy step to say yes to joining Norwich. As I said before, I knew the league, the country and the culture of the UK, so it was an easy step to make and one that I’m glad I did take.
“When I signed on a one-year loan from Lazio, the deal included terms that meant if the club stayed in the Premier League and I played over 25 times, that I could stay permanently with the Canaries.
“Both situations complied, and my feeling was that I wanted to stay. When I did sign permanently, my wife and I were really happy. She likes the city a lot and we both felt very comfortable in Norwich.”
Garrido became an understudy to Martin Olsson, and the Spaniard deputised for the Swede for the next two seasons.
Despite how his City spell ended, Garrido doesn’t hold any regrets or grudges towards Chris Hughton or Alex Neil.
“There was nothing wrong with him (Hughton) at all, but the situation of the team meant that he was sacked as our manager. Don’t get me wrong, I always knew that in football, sometimes you play and in other times you don’t. That’s football.
“Getting relegated was a very, very hard moment for everybody. Not just for us, but also for the supporters who always gave their best to support the team, whether that was home or away.
“The supporters have a great atmosphere and were always very generous.
“When we got promoted again, I knew it would be difficult to stay because my contract was coming to an end and I hadn’t played so much.
“I had a chat with the manager, and I was told by him that he couldn’t give me an extension to my contract. So, I shook hands with him and wished him and the team all the best for the future.”
Currently, like most of Europe, Garrido and his family are enduring the lockdown restrictions, in Spain.
The 35-year-old is using this period to bond with his family, although admits the situation is bizarre and difficult to comprehend.
“We have two children at home, one which is one month old, and so we are allowed to enjoy them intensively. That is a positive,” he said.
“The club has sent us some work to do at home and this is the most frustrating thing to do because we don’t have the materials or the space to do the work properly.”
With hopes of a return to England in a coaching capacity, Garrido hopes his Norwich City journey is far from over.