Gilks overwhelmed by his move up the football ladder

JONATHAN REDHEAD New Norwich City goalkeeper Matthew Gilks has admitted he finds his switch to Carrow Road a little bit overwhelming.


New Norwich City goalkeeper Matthew Gilks has admitted he finds his switch to Carrow Road a little bit overwhelming.

The former Rochdale keeper will officially join the Canaries on Sunday after his Bosman-style switch from Spotland to leave behind the club he joined as a 13-year-old.

After 187 games for the Dale, he will move out of his parents' home to start a new career in Norfolk - an opportunity he says was too good to turn down.

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His head was turned by the Canaries stepping up their interest towards the end of last season and, despite the interest of several other clubs, including one top-flight side, he saw the next stage of his career in Norwich.

"A few weeks before the end of the season there was speculation about clubs coming in and I was on a free transfer," he said.

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"Having played every game for two and half seasons a few clubs were looking at my record and things like that. I heard about Norwich and since then it's been one of the clubs I've really wanted to have a look around and thankfully I'll be joining.

"I think it's every footballer's ambition to move up. I'd been at Rochdale since I was 13 and I'd worked my way up there. Everyone's got and ambition and mine was to play for Rochdale's first team.

"Now I've got another ambition and that's to play for Norwich City's first team. You know, you work hard, get a move and opportunities like this don't come around every day. It was too good to turn down.

"It's a lovely place. The training ground, having not had one at Rochdale and training on parks and schools, was a big eye-opener. The facilities are second to none. And the ground is obviously a fantastic stadium - a lot bigger than Spotland with a lot more people here as well, so there's a whole package. You know with a football club of this size it's all your ambitions coming true at once.

"It is exciting to be at a club this big. Rochdale's a very good well run club, but in terms of size it's not the biggest and there's a lot of big clubs in that area. So to come down here, I'm quite overwhelmed with all the attention and what comes with coming to a football club the size of Norwich."

Gilks comes with a good pedigree after playing 46 games in each of the last two seasons, as well as keeping 12 clean sheets in the clubs last 25 matches. In 2004/05 he helped make club history when he and fellow keeper Neil Edwards kept 20 clean sheets between them - with Gilks responsible for 15.

Now, he intends making his mark on City although he admits it will be tough to force his way into manager Peter Grant's first team.

"He (Grant) said as far as he's concerned I'll be on an even keel with whichever goalkeepers are here. I'm going to be working hard no matter who comes in. I want to play football and that's what I intend to do. I've got a hard couple of months ahead of me and I intend to work hard as I always have done.

"I've come here to play in the first team, make no bones about it. Whoever's in there I'll be pushing and if I'm in there, they'll be pushing me, which will benefit the squad as a whole.

"It's going to be tough. It'd be tough anywhere. If I had stayed at Rochdale they would have brought another goalkeeper in and I'd have had to claim my stake there as well. Nothing's written. But I am a good worker, a hard worker and As long as I work hard, I'll take my chance when I get it.

"You can't beat playing football in the first team. I've done many games in the reserves on windy Tuesday nights up in Rochdale and I don't want to be doing that again. So every opportunity I'm going to take."

Gilks is confident he can make the step up from Coca-Cola League Two to the Championship - as is his new manager.

"I'm very pleased," Grant told the Canaries website. "He puts me in mind of Jimmy Walker who used to play at Walsall and was very highly regarded. People say he can play in the Premier League and it was no surprise to me that sides in the Premier League were interested."

But Grant said Gilks had shunned the chance to make more money, to play more games and prove himself as a number one at Championship level.

"Matt had that opportunity and he's looked at it and said he wants to play as much football as possible," he said. "He was more comfortable he could prove he could be the number one here, and I want that competition.

"We have watched him lots. All the reports have been complimentary and when I've watched him he's done very well."

Legendary City keeper and current Club Liaison Bryan Gunn added: "He's a very confident lad. He bosses his defence, very much in the way goalkeepers should.

"His statistics over the last two seasons have been very impressive as well. He's played 46 games in both those seasons, so in terms of his fitness levels that's very good. Having spoken to his manager, Keith Hill, he is very disappointed to lose him because he finished the season in Keith's reign as manager, 24 games, with 12 clean sheets, so that shows his quality. His concentration levels are good and something we hope we can add to with the full time training we hope he'll receive with James Hollman and the other goalkeepers."

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