Iwan Roberts: 'Glenn had a kind and gentle nature about him that a lot of people didn’t see'
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
I’ve been part of a group of former Watford players that have had a chat on WhatsApp for about 18 months now.
It includes the likes of John Barnes, Tony Coton, Luther Blissett and many others. It was Watford legend Luther's idea to get us all together so we could keep in contact as we’d all lost contact over the last 30 or 40 years.
We hold charity events together, golf days and things like that to raise money for local charities in the Watford area and during this tough time Luther has been asking us to ring vulnerable people who live on their own, just so they have some company and someone to talk to for a few minutes every week.
As you can imagine there’s a lot of mickey taking on this WhatsApp group chat, and believe you me, there’s no holds barred on there at times. But it’s all good fun and no one takes it a step to far.
But last Sunday the mood of the group was very different after we received some very, very sad news - that we’d lost a former team-mate that day. It was Luther who told us that Glenn Roeder had sadly passed away after a long battle with a brain tumour.
In 2003, while managing West Ham, Glenn suffered a brain tumour which was operated on successfully, but I don’t think he was ever the same after this, sadly.
I spent a couple of years with Glenn at Watford. I was just starting my footballing career and Glenn’s was coming towards its conclusion. I liked Glenn a lot and we got on very well. He was great towards the younger pros and apprentices at the club. He was always ready to help us and give us advice in which ever way he could. Glenn had a kind and gentle nature about him that a lot of people didn’t see, especially when he went on to become a manager.
As a player, Glenn was years before his time; he was a ball playing centre-half who had the best lollipop I’ve ever seen. Now when I say lollipop, I don’t mean the type a child would want from the sweet shop. I’m on about when a footballer motions his leg around the ball as if to move it, but the ball doesn’t go anywhere, it stays still. I swear Glenn did it better than Ronaldo. As a forward you knew it was coming, you knew Glenn was going to do it - but there was nothing you could do about it, you still fell for it every time.
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Talking of centre-halves, Norwich have two of the best in the Championship in Ben Gibson and especially Grant Hanley, who’s been magnificent this season. Both love defending and both are very comfortable with the ball at their feet. I think Grant’s improved so much in this part of his game.
They’ve been part of a back five who’ve kept eight clean sheets in their last 12 games and that's why Norwich sit top of the tree, 10 points clear of Brentford and Watford. While the likes of Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki have grabbed the headlines nine times out of 10 this season, it's the solidity of that defence, helped by fantastic work by Kenny McLean and on-loan Oliver Skipp, which has given the attacking players the freedom to do what they do best.
The last time Norwich won seven consecutive Championship games was towards the end of March, 2019, when they went on to win eight on the bounce. Even though Saturday's opponents Luton have won their last two league games, the way Norwich are playing right now with the confidence and momentum they’ve got, I can’t see anything but a seventh straight win and a step closer to the Premier League.