Keeper coach still loving Norfolk life after ‘immensely’ enjoyable stint with Canaries
- Credit: Archant
The constant churn of changes in football sees many people pass through Carrow Road but leaving Norfolk behind is not easy, as David Freezer found out when catching up with ex-Canaries keeper coach Dean Kiely.
Like so many Norwich City players and coaches before him, the charms of Norfolk life have proved too strong to be left behind for Dean Kiely.
The former Canaries coach spent time with eight different clubs as a player, from Bury and York in the north, to Portsmouth and Charlton in the south.
Yet when his time as goalkeeper coach at City came to an end in July 2017, life in Nelson's County did not.
The former West Brom number one and his wife, Tracey, were keen to put down roots as their children had grown up and moved out, which means a commute of around two hours from south Norfolk for Kiely, as he now works for Premier League side Crystal Palace.
"I've had 31 years in professional football and it's foot on the accelerator, flat out, eyes popping out, tongue hanging out, 100mph," the former Republic of Ireland international joked.
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"For example, on Saturday when you're playing in the Premier League against Newcastle and there's all the prep as a coach and you're invested in it with all your effort and energy, win lose or draw, it's nice for me the further I get away from London and the nearer I get to Norwich.
"You just start to de-stress, relax and unwind a little bit and when I get to sort of Thetford, Attleborough sort of way I know the football side can be parked up until Monday morning.
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"I get back, spend some time with my wife, walking the dog, getting out and about, so the feel for me is good. A hectic, busy work schedule but the Norwich element of my lifestyle at the moment gives me a relaxing element, it's good."
Kiely arrived at Norwich in February 2015 after almost four years as a player and another three as a coach at West Brom had come to an end the previous month, after Tony Pulis' arrival.
He was swiftly recommended to the Canaries by outgoing keeper coach Tony Parks, who stepped up to a top-flight role at Aston Villa shortly after Alex Neil had arrived from Hamilton.
"I left West Brom in January, came into Norwich in the February and in May we're at Wembley trying to get into the Premier League," Kiely reflects fondly.
"From my point of view it worked out well. I had no connection, I hadn't worked with Alex previously or anyone in or around the club.
"I went for the interview, got the job and it was a little bit of a whirlwind, joined a team that were flying and looking to get back into the Premier League.
"Football is current, it's now, it's what's happening this week, but for me, I have my signed Norwich shirt up from when we beat Middlesbrough in the play-off final at Wembley and it's something I hold - along with lots of my other memorabilia from being a player and a coach - as very dear to me.
"The one thing I have to say is that the board of directors - Delia and Michael, Michael Foulger, Stephan Phillips and his wife Mary, Tom (Smith) and Alice - made me and my family feel incredibly welcome, that was a really nice feeling."
As so often with members of a manager's back-room staff, a change of regime can mean coaches losing jobs and City went in a totally new direction when dismissing Neil in March 2017 with chances of bouncing back to the Premier League all but finished.
Stuart Webber arrived as sporting director and Daniel Farke as head coach, with Kiely's exit following in July 2017, seeing him reunite with Neil at Preston briefly before joining Palace in January 2018.
He reflected: "Something I've learned in football, that an old chief executive at Charlton told me, which is absolutely spot on, is that the time you spend at a football club, however long or short it is, takes care of itself, you turn up and do your job.
"But it's the first touch from the club, how they make you feel, how they welcome you, how they facilitate that move for you - and it's the last touch, how you leave the club.
"The first touch from the board and Delia and Michael was brilliant, the way they made myself and my family feel part of the club was excellent. Obviously the last touch wasn't great but there were different people there and I totally get it, it's a shrug of the shoulders, it's football. It isn't a slight on me and what I do, it's just people wanting to go their own way - which is absolutely fine.
"I'd rather focus on the positive which is a move to a lovely part of the world, at a really, really nice football club and I felt really welcome. I was only there two and a half years and I enjoyed my time immensely."