From City loan flop to England striker - sound familiar?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As his unsuccessful loan came to an end in 2016, few Norwich City supporters would have predicted Patrick Bamford would be an England striker five years later. Canaries fans have been here before though.
The Leeds striker is repeating Harry Kane’s journey, if not quite to the same profile and top-level success of the Three Lions’ skipper yet.
Bamford made his England debut as he started last night’s 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Andorra at Wembley, with the minnows working hard to resist before running out of steam late in the game.
There were few sights of goal for the 28-year-old, only for Kane to get a penalty to convert for a 2-0 lead 10 minutes after replacing Bamford midway through the second half.
Back in January 2016, the forward had joined the Canaries on loan from Chelsea as a 22-year-old after an initial Premier League stint at Crystal Palace had failed to yield a goal in nine games.
Bamford had been named Championship Player of the Season at the end of the previous campaign though after starring with 17 goals for Middlesbrough, ending in defeat to Norwich in the play-off final.
Previously he’d had loan spells at Nottingham Forest, MK Dons and Derby to get his career going, making a handful of appearances at youth levels for England, and was the striker City boss Alex Neil turned to as top-flight survival was pursued from a solid halfway position – sitting 15th and six points clear of trouble after three wins in four games.
That was the transfer window that saw the Canaries splash around £20million on Steven Naismith, Timm Klose, Matt Jarvis and Ivo Pinto, with around half of that recouped from the sales of strikers Gary Hooper and Lewis Grabban – only to lose 13 of their last 18 games to be relegated.
Bamford joined Naismith, fellow loanee Dieumerci Mbokani and Cameron Jerome as the chief attacking options and would fail to find the back of the net in seven appearances, just two of which were starts.
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His debut came shortly after the second goal was conceded in a 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa, playing the final 34 minutes, and after being kept on the bench for a 2-2 draw at home to West Ham he made a brief cameo at the end of a 1-0 loss at Leicester.
After being ineligible for a 2-1 home loss to parent club Chelsea, he was brought on for Naismith in the 64th minute at Swansea, just after the Welsh side had scored the goal which would earn them a 1-0 win.
A start finally arrived, against Manchester City at Carrow Road, and Bamford hit the bar with a swerving left-footed strike from 20 yards as he played 67 minutes of a rejuvenating 0-0 draw with Manchester City.
“I’m just happy and thankful to the manager for giving me a chance and now it’s up to me to start rewarding him and paying him back through goals,” said Bamford, after starting that game as a lone striker.
He was joined by Mbokani in a two-man attack for the next game and played 72 minutes of a 1-0 win at West Brom before being replaced by Naismith, with Robbie Brady having already scored the crucial goal.
But then he was back on the bench and unused during a 3-2 home win over Newcastle as City climbed out of the relegation zone with six games remaining.
However, playing the final 24 minutes of a 1-0 defeat at Palace and failing to impress would prove the beginning of the end for him and his temporary team - on a painful day when Timm Klose's damaging injury arrived.
Bamford would only be included in the squad for one of the five remaining games, coming on for the final 12 minutes of a 1-0 home loss to Manchester United which left relegation looking almost certain.
As City returned to the second tier, another top-flight loan proved unsuccessful for Bamford, at Burnley, before returning to Boro in January 2017 for a reported £5.5m - only to endure Premier League relegation again.
He rediscovered form with eight Championship goals during 2017-18 and that proved enough to impress Marcelo Bielsa, who took him to Leeds in a deal worth up to £10m.
After winning the Championship title in 2020, Bamford was the joint-fourth top scorer in the Premier League last season with 17 goals as Leeds finished ninth – and was widely seen as unfortunate to not go to the Euros with England.
Now his work rate and intelligent movement appear to have won over Gareth Southgate, as he leaves the teething problems of his early career behind and becomes established at the top level.