Hanley mentor hails City captain
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City captain Grant Hanley is now at the peak of his powers for his old Blackburn Rovers mentor Colin Hendry.
Fellow Scot Hendry was the original central defensive rock for club and country and worked with a young Hanley in his formative years at Ewood Park.
Premier League title winner Hendry believes the 29-year-old is now indispensable for his club, and at international level.
“Grant has taken his time to get to where he is now but I don’t think that should come as a surprise to anyone,” said Hendry. “Centre-halves mature at a different, slower rate to other players and that’s been the case with him.
“He was 19 when he won his first cap and it’s taken him a decade to get to 39 but it’s really only now that he’d become a regular and looks as though he belongs there.
"Very few lads playing in that position can come into their club or international teams and make an immediate and sustained impact.
“You need to experience the ups and downs, take the knocks and come back for more. You gradually learn what to do and what not to do, your decision-making gets better and so does your understanding of the position.
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“I was 29 when I won the Premier League with Blackburn, 32 when I captained Scotland at the World Cup finals and 33 when I won the treble with Rangers.”
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Hanley was a stand out for Scotland at the Euros in the summer and was again a key fixture in the recent World Cup qualifiers.
“I would take Grant for the odd session, passing on advice and tips,” said Hendry, speaking to the Herald. “I could see even then that there was a player in there, although a lot of Rovers fans disagreed with me at the time.
“The one thing he did which got to me was that he would tackle opponents with the outside of his right boot and try and scoop the ball away from them instead of leading with his left foot, which is what he should have been doing.
“I watched him doing it again against Denmark in Copenhagen the other week so it’s clearly a habit he’s never going to lose.
"On the plus side, he’s quick, he’s strong, good in the air and he’s added nous to his game so he’s ticking most of the boxes now.
"Plus, playing in the Premier League with Norwich, he’ll have plenty of practice defending because, with the way they play, he’ll definitely be busy.”