Adeyemi wants to become a club legend
Tom Adeyemi may be yet to make a first team appearance for his boyhood club but he knows what he wants - to become a Norwich City legend.The 17-year-old Academy product made it on to manager Bryan Gunn's first team bench for the first time at St Andrew's against Birmingham City on Saturday, alongside youth team captain Korey Smith.
Tom Adeyemi may be yet to make a first team appearance for his boyhood club but he knows what he wants - to become a Norwich City legend.
The 17-year-old Academy product made it on to manager Bryan Gunn's first team bench for the first time at St Andrew's against Birmingham City on Saturday, alongside youth team captain Korey Smith.
And Adeyemi, who has been a regular as a fan at Carrow Road for the last decade, would dearly love to be held in the same regard as his current boss - a Norwich goalkeeping legend himself.
“I've been a season ticket holder since I was seven so, for me, I'm really living the dream at the moment because it is the team that I've supported pretty much all my life,” said Adeyemi.
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“It's great to have a legend of the club as the head of the management team and obviously, that's my aim for the future, to become a Norwich legend as well. That's something I'm setting my sights towards.”
Classy performances from Adeyemi for City's reserves and in this season's FA Youth Cup have seen the youngster catch both Gunn and former boss Glenn Roeder's eye.
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And having been in the stands watching Norwich's past Academy products make their home debut at Carrow Road, Adeyemi cannot wait to be on the receiving end of the Norwich faithful's applause.
“I've been one of them for many years and I know what it's like to see a youngster run out and all the crowd get really excited,” he admitted. “I'd love it to be me.”
The likable midfielder has lived in the city from a young age and was spotted at the very first opportunity by the Canaries - at one of the club's Football in the Community soccer schools.
Helped by the programme's director, Ian Thornton, Adeyemi's 10-year scholarship has taken him from gentle knockabouts to the brink of Championship football.
“I started with soccer schools when I was seven or eight, which was with Football in the Community,” said Adeyemi. “I spent a lot of time with Ian and he really helped me when I was younger.
“Then I moved on and got picked up by the development centres and from there the Academy, and I've been working closely with Ricky for a number of years now. I think I owe quite a lot to him really.
“The club's invested quite a lot of money in me obviously, because I've been here for so many years, so I feel that I've got to pay them something back. So that's my aim really.”
Adeyemi acknowledged he did not take to the field as a seven-year-old hoping to land a career as professional footballer - something he was handed by Roeder in November.
“Maybe when I started it was more for fun, and I just did it for enjoyment,” said Adeyemi. “And then, just gradually as you get older, you start to think, 'maybe I have got a chance of making it', and then what started as fun turns into a possible career.”
Although following up on the start of a promising cricket career was also an option for the Norwich youngster, who is no slouch with his school work either, collecting a clean sweep of A-grades in his GCSE exams last year.
“There's probably a bit more money in football,” joked Adeyemi. “I think when I was 13 or 14 there was a little stage where I was at the same level at cricket as I was football, and I wasn't really sure which way to go. But football has always been my main passion and I stuck with that.
“It has been tough over the years, but I think both my school [Norwich School] and football have helped me to find that balance and, like when I was coming in for the day release programme a couple of years ago, my school made it quite easy for me I think - or a lot easier than it could have been anyway.”
Adeyemi expects his inclusion on Saturday in Gunn's substitute bench to live long in the memory - and not getting the chance to shine on the pitch is not about to take off the gloss.
“I think it was probably the proudest moment of my career so far because it was just great to be involved in that first team environment, and just to witness first hand what goes on; it was a really good taster for me,” said Adeyemi, who now wants to go one further and make his first team debut.
“That's the aim for the rest of the season and I'm very hopeful that the manager will see enough in me to give me a chance come the end of the season.
“Seeing Luke [Daley] make his debut gave me confidence that the manager was willing to give a youngster a chance.
“All the lads in the youth team dressing room were really excited when they saw that Luke was playing, because it just made us feel that maybe there was going to be an opportunity for someone else come the end of the season.
“Obviously I've got youth on my side, but I'm just hoping that I can make a step in the right direction as quickly as possible.”
As both a player and a fan, Adeyemi believes his Norwich team-mates will be safe come the end of the season - something that could see the Academy product given a chance to show what he can do in the Championship next season.
“It's looking positive, or increasingly positive over the last few weeks, and I think it's important for the club that we do manage to find enough points stay up,” said Adeyemi. “It's still very tight at the bottom and it could easily go either way, but I think the lads have shown that they're good enough to pull through.”