Cantwell praises parents for initially turning down City’s academy as a youngster
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Todd Cantwell embodies the dreams of every Norwich City supporting youngster, but his parents ensured he spent his childhood concentrating on enjoying football rather than handling the pressures of being in an academy.
From the terraces, they refer to him as being 'one of their own' and Cantwell's heritage is deep-rooted in the county. As a youngster, he operated for Dereham Town and his path to the Premier League has been far from easy.
Life as an academy footballer can be perceived as undemanding and routine, but Cantwell's suffered hard knocks and has been forced to work hard to break through City's youth set-up.
Although it would be any youngsters dream to receive a call from a professional academy, Cantwell has expressed his gratitude to his parents for initially rejecting the advances of The Canaries to allow him to enjoy the sport.
"It's a bit of a story. They wanted to sign me when I was about seven or eight years-old and I'm very thankful to say it but my mum and dad decided that it wasn't the best time for me to go in.
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"They said to me 'you're enjoying your football and it's important to have a smile on your face without the pressure yet because you're doing well, and you'll remember these times'.
"I still remember winning trophies when I played with the friends that I still have now. Although it is an absolute privilege to be asked to join the academy at that age, I waited and joined when I was 10. Under-11s was my first season and I'm very thankful for that," Cantwell told JD Football.
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"It's very easy to start too young because the clubs don't want to miss anyone. For me personally, having the family and the base that I've got, they were the ones that made that decision."
Cantwell has emerged from the periphery of City's squad to become a key component of their Premier League plans.
Despite his newfound fame as a top-flight starlet, the Dereham born midfielder admits his close relationship with his family helps to keep him grounded.
"My mum and dad are touch tight with me and they're always keeping me on the right track."