Wembley revisited – Steven Whittaker remembers Norwich City’s ‘perfect day’
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Steven Whittaker has vivid daily reminders of the part he played in one of Norwich City greatest away days, five years ago.
The Scot was part of Alex Neil’s side which won the Championship play-off final, beating Middlesbrough 2-0 at Wembley on May 25, 2015, to earn City a place in the Premier League.
It was arguably Whittaker’s finest performance in City colours - topped by the assist for Nathan Redmond to grab the second goal, after a magnificent passing sequence, which pushed the game out of Boro’s reach after Cameron Jerome had put them ahead.
“I’ve got the strip framed and the picture of the goal and the medal and all that so it’s something that I walk past in my house quite often,” said Whittaker, now back in his native Scotland with Hibernian.
“The goal itself I think was voted goal of the season by the fans so, yes, to score that type of goal in that type of environment was just perfect.
“We had a lot of good footballers – obviously Wes, which speaks for itself, and Jonny Howson, these type of people who are comfortable on the ball and they can move the ball and for that goal you can see it – it went down both sides a couple of times. The pass was there for Nathan, in terms of the defender being out a little bit and we just managed to touch past him which created the chance.
“It shows you we had good players on that team who could score those types of goals.”
City had lost twice in the regular 2014-15 season to Middlesbrough, 4-0 in the north-east and 1-0 at Carrow Road, just weeks before their Wembley showdown. But Neil had seen enough to know exactly what City needed to do: he demanded a fast start, and he got it, with both goals coming inside the opening 15 minutes.
“The manager stressed it and stressed it and we worked on those strategies, how we were going to take the game to them from the whistle and it all kind of worked out,” said Whittaker, 35. “We got two goals fairly early doors and the rest of the game kind of played out as it was.
“It was an amazing game to play in – the atmosphere, walking out and seeing half yellow and half red, amazing memories. They seem to show that game on TV quite often – I’ve have caught it a couple of times and it is definitely nice to watch back.”
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