Norwich City’s top 100 appearances: Paul McVeigh (42) – The pint-sized forward Canaries fans were happy to declare their love for, twice
246 appearances/40 goals
If popularity was measured in the strength of their song from the stands at Carrow Road, Paul McVeigh would be among the title challengers.
So the ditty went, there was no issue with his lack of height – the Norwich City supporters loved him anyway.
Even the second time around.
But it was the first spell that made McVeigh’s name in Norfolk, earning a permanent switch to Carrow Road in March 2000 after he was deemed surplus to requirements at Tottenham.
Bryan Hamilton was City manager at the time and it was probably little surprise he opted to bring in his compatriot.
However, it wasn’t until another Northern Irishman took the reins that the 5ft 6in McVeigh really got a chance to shine.
Nigel Worthington proved on several occasions he knew how to get the best out of the forward, be it playing off target man Iwan Roberts or out wide.
Darren Huckerby’s introduction spearheaded the Canaries’ eventual Premier League return in 2004, of course. But it was the likes of McVeigh blossoming as Worthington turned City from a side threatened with relegation, to challenging for the top flight, that provided the initial foundations to build on.
McVeigh scored four in six games towards the end of the 2001-02 season that took City to the then-Division One play-off final at Cardiff – where only a shoot-out defeat to Birmingham prevented promotion. Some would say even now, McVeigh’s withdrawal on 101 minutes for Daryl Sutch – a matter of seconds before the Blues’ defining equaliser – was a crucial intervention.
The forward notched 15 goals the following season, before helping Huckerby and company reach the Premier League – where McVeigh scored at Old Trafford in the top flight. Norwich had to wait until their victory at Manchester United in 2015 to hit the back of the net again at the same ground.
Worthington’s 2006 departure expedited that of McVeigh, but he returned as a free agent under Bryan Gunn – and in turn topped up his appearance tally, while enjoying the 2009-10 season of Paul Lambert’s Canaries ride.
“I can’t really believe the reception I’ve been getting and the fact that it’s happening again is a bit surreal,” he said in September 2009. “I thought I was going to have to really try and win people over…but they obviously have long memories.”