John Ruddy's dignified exit is unlikely to be forgotten by Norwich City fans
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Goalkeepers have a special place in the hearts of Norwich City fans - mostly for the right reasons.
Kevin Keelan is the club’s leading appearance maker; Ken Nethercott, a brave, modest and brilliant hero; Bryan Gunn – a legend whose son Angus is now performing heroics between the sticks.
The list goes on and City fans love them all. And they loved John Ruddy, who will be in the Wolves goal tonight at Carrow Road, his first visit back to the place he used to call home.
Whether or not he ever goes into the history books along with Keelan, Nethercott, Gunn and Co is up for debate, but he will be forever remembered for the dignified way he represented Norwich City – including his exit at the end of last season, a victim of changing fortunes at Carrow Road.
There was no Andy Marshall style departure – Ruddy was one of seven players who were told their contracts would not be renewed when the season was over. Salaries had to be cut – and Ruddy, Sebastien Bassong, Steven Whittaker, Ryan Bennett, Youssouf Mulumbu, Michael Turner and Kyle Lafferty all went.
The decision was made before the final game of the season, against Queens Park Rangers. All were told they could opt out of the game if they wanted.
Six did. Ruddy didn’t.
He was given the captain’s armband for the day and signed off with a clean sheet in a 4-0 win.
“I was determined to play and it was never a question of not playing or not training, I wanted to finish it off right and luckily we got the result,” he said.
The fans sang his name, the banners appeared, there were tears and there were thank yous.
It was a most dignified exit.
“Today was a fantastic way to go out with a result like that and the clean sheet and the opportunity to say goodbye to the fans, it meant a lot to me,” said Ruddy.
Ruddy joined City from Everton in the summer of 2010, signed by Paul Lambert, and helped the club to two promotions to the Premier League. He made 243 appearances, which puts him joint 44th on the club’s all-time appearances list.
Ruddy is one of five ever-presents this season at Wolves where his team-mates include Bennett, although the central defender has had just one league start this season – a 4-0 win at Burton Albion at the end of last month.