Norwich City report card: What a ride for Ben Godfrey
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Ben Godfrey came to the party in a big way. Paddy Davitt assesses a season to remember for the defender, in the latest of our City report cards.
The frightening thing about Ben Godfrey is the Norwich City centre back is only getting started.
Godfrey has all the physical attributes to operate at the top of his profession.
That pace, power and aggression is a potent combination. But the growing maturity and composure on the ball that developed during City's helter skelter ride towards Championship promotion suggest the 21-year-old could indeed be the real deal.
Daniel Farke's early-season premonition Godfrey could become a decent second tier holding midfielder but a world class central defender now looks like clairvoyance rather than a leap of faith.
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What Godfrey thought when he heard his head coach discuss a drastic career change might be something the Yorkshireman never publicly divulges.
Given his body of work driving Shrewsbury towards Wembley not once but twice during the previous campaign, from a deeper-lying midfield role, he may well have thought he was better crossing the border to be reunited with new Town chief Paul Hurst.
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Hurst was jettisoned by Ipswich while Godfrey did make his mark at Portman Road, with an emergency second half shift in a spirited 1-1 comeback in early September.
That was the first time City fans had seen Godfrey in what would eventually become his natural habitat around the turn of the year, when injury and suspension to principally Timm Klose and Grant Hanley opened the door.
The manner he grasped his opportunity alongside Christoph Zimmermann was arguably one of the many highlights in a thrilling surge towards the title and the Premier League.
Zimmermann himself remarked down the stretch the duo's success as a pairing was rooted in a realisation neither are perhaps the most naturally talented centre backs at Farke's disposal.
That now seems more than a touch harsh, if you reflect on the critical importance of their ability to build the play - in tandem with Tim Krul - and the willingness to step into midfield and showcase their passing ability.
Recall Godfrey's raking crossfield pick for Max Aarons in the move that led to the early opener against QPR at Carrow Road.
But it was not just the smoothness of touch in possession or the defensive resolve.
The England youth international also weighed in with four goals; key among them perhaps that thumping far post headed winner to sink a plucky Rotherham back on Yorkshire soil.
That was a coming-of-age performance in every facet.
The Millers direct approach and set piece threat tested Godfrey and the rest of City's youthful backline to the limit. But the former York prospect was colossal at the New York stadium.
Alongside his goal was any number of key interventions to blunt Rotherham's attacking endeavour, allied to an assurance to step into midfield and get City on the front foot.
Farke was right. But it was Godfrey who proved him right in the manner he accepted the challenge and his re-deployment.
Given his age and his relative inexperience there really is no limit now to what he can achieve in his career.
He has all the raw materials, he needs to stay hungry, stay humble and keep learning.
Then Farke's long term prediction may become a reality.