Norwich City top 100 appearances: Neil Adams (60)
We continue our look through the top 100 players in Norwich City's appearance list, with Paddy Davitt reflecting on Neil Adams' loyal service to the club.
60 Neil Adams 206 appearances/30 goals
Glenn Roeder might not agree but Neil Adams has been one of the most influential figures in Norwich City’s modern-day history.
Player, pundit, academy coach, FA Youth Cup winning chief, caretaker manager, manager and latterly overseeing City’s loan exports during Alex Neil’s era. Adams’ association with the Canaries in one capacity or another goes back more than two decades.
The much-maligned Roeder took a swipe at an unnamed ‘ex-player working in the media who will never manage anything better than an under-10 team’ when he bristled at suggestions back in 2008 there was a problem between the club’s first team manager and talisman Darren Huckerby.
In the interests of balance, Roeder did subsequently sanction Adams’ return to the academy later the same year.
That started the journey that led far beyond the ‘under-10s’ to the Canaries’ first team post.
Adams was the first Norwich youth team figurehead to land the prestigious FA Youth Cup in three decades, when the side of Josh and Jacob Murphy, Harry Toffolo and Cameron McGeehan, edged out holders Chelsea in 2013. When City’s board parted ways with Chris Hughton the following year, Adams was thrown the hospital pass for a daunting Premier League run-in. The City Hall of Famer was unable to avoid relegation but impressed sufficiently to become manager in his own right in May 2014.
“It is a huge honour and I am immensely proud to be confirmed as the club’s manager going forward,” he said at his unveiling. “I can assure everyone that we will all be working as hard as possible to achieve our objective of returning this club back to where it belongs.”
Adams was right in one respect. City regained their Premier League status at the end of his first full season in charge but the City stalwart’s bittersweet brush with the sharp end lasted barely seven months. An ignominious FA Cup defeat at Preston in the midst of a Championship downturn led to Alex Neil’s arrival.
It was a brutal decision bereft of any sentiment to a loyal servant, but you can rest assured no-one was happier than Adams himself when the Canaries completed their mission in the play-off final.
Adams himself savoured the thrill of Wembley as a player for Oldham, in the 1990 League Cup final. Albeit he ended on the losing side against Nottingham Forest.
The winger was part of the Latics’ most successful spell under Joe Royle, before moving to Carrow Road in 1994 for the sum of £250,000, where he carved out a niche as a penalty kick specialist and a decent attacking weapon, with a probing delivery from wide areas.