Alan Lee the proudest man in East Anglia
David Cuffley Alan Lee declared himself “the proudest man in East Anglia” last night after enjoying his first victory in Norwich City colours. The 30-year-old striker played a major part in the 2-0 home victory over Watford that kept the Canaries' Championship survival bid very much alive, lifting them out of the bottom three with three matches to play.
Alan Lee declared himself “the proudest man in East Anglia” last night after enjoying his first victory in Norwich City colours.
The 30-year-old striker played a major part in the 2-0 home victory over Watford that kept the Canaries' Championship survival bid very much alive, lifting them out of the bottom three with three matches to play, but only on goal difference over Barnsley and Nottingham Forest.
Lee's eventful Easter Monday afternoon - in front of officially Carrow Road's biggest crowd of the season of 25,487 - included a disallowed goal, another splendid effort that struck the post and a yellow card from referee Steve Tanner, and ended with the sponsors' award as man of the match. He was the last City player to leave the field as he saluted home fans in all stands after the final whistle.
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“I loved it - every minute of it. And I felt fantastic. In some ways you don't want it to end, you want to get a goal but it's fantastic to get the three points,” said Lee.
“The supporters are absolutely fantastic. The noise beforehand sent a shiver through me and they were a huge help, a really, really big help today in egging the lads on and getting everyone up for the game. I said it before, I think it's fantastic when you see a full house - a fantastic stadium, a lovely atmosphere and they make it an absolute pleasure to play for Norwich City.”
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The Republic of Ireland international, on loan from Crystal Palace, now has what he describes as “a very special day” to look forward to against former club Ipswich Town in Sunday's East Anglian derby at Portman Road - and knows exactly which side of the fence he is on.
Town's play-off hopes have ended but Lee knows what to expect from his old team-mates as they bid to avenge their 2-0 defeat at Norwich earlier in the season.
He said: “It's a big game. I think they've got something to prove to their fans. I know the fans are unhappy at the moment so if the players are worth their salt they'll be going in full-blooded on Sunday, as we will.
“I love those games. I've not lost a local derby yet, so I don't aim to start on Sunday. I'll do everything I can for Norwich City.
“Repeat that performance today and we'll have no problems. It will be nice if I'm playing in this team again, I'll be happy if we play like that.
“I'm the proudest man in East Anglia tonight. I've got some family over so I'll be off for some dinner and I can enjoy the day off. I feel great. I look forward to Sunday.”
A 15th-minute own goal by 18-year-old Watford midfielder Daniel Rose, plus skipper Gary Doherty's third goal of the season, seven minutes from time, gave City three points as they bounced back from successive defeats by Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea to climb two places to 20th.
“As you can imagine, we were worried,” said Lee. “We thought we did reasonably well in the two games and were hard done by not to get anything. I'm not going to deny we were worried and I'm sure a lot of people did a lot of thinking and responded accordingly.
“I'm very positive. I think today was a huge, huge game. The way we started with application, attitude, desire - the lads got angry and it was very impressive. The lads can be really, really proud of themselves today.”
Referee Tanner clouded Lee's afternoon slightly by booking him for a foul on Adrian Mariappa and disallowing his goal 10 minutes from time.
“I'll have to look at it again. It doesn't matter now. All that matters is three points,” said Lee.
“But I thought the ref had a very good game apart from five minutes of madness in the second half when he came after me for some reason.
“There were some peculiar decisions but I had to bite my lip for the rest of the game.”
Manager Bryan Gunn praised Lee's display as one of a string of “inspirational” performances.
He said: “Alan ran himself into the ground and gave the kind of performance that a few weeks ago a few Norwich City fans would have questioned whether we would have got.
“In the games he's played for us so far, he's certainly shown that he wants to be part of this mission we're trying to complete and the fact he got man of the match was just reward.”