Norwich City Memory Lane: Nathan Redmond coming of age, on and off the pitch
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
With his 21st birthday on the horizon they were exciting times for City winger Nathan Redmond back in the spring of 2015 – as David Freezer discovered
Wing wizard Nathan Redmond is coming of age this season, both on and off the pitch.
City’s star youngster celebrates his 21st birthday on March 6, the day before the Canaries travel to Millwall.
It is the age traditionally considered to signify when a boy becomes a man – Redmond has achieved rather a lot before reaching that landmark.
Many footballers are still waiting for a first proper run in their club’s first team at the age of 21, but not the Birmingham City academy graduate.
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Redmond made his debut for the Blues at the age of 16 and has since made over 90 Championship and 34 Premier League appearances, following his transfer to City in the summer of 2013.
Throw into the mix five Europa League matches and 20 England Under-21 caps, as well as eight League Cup and 11 FA Cup games, and Redmond has already made over 180 appearances at the top level of English football. Not half bad for a 20-year-old.
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“If you had said to me that I’d have played Europa League, been a part of a Carling Cup winning squad, played in the FA Cup, Championship twice, Premier League, European Under-21 Championships – I would have bitten your hand off!” he said.
“But I know I’ve still got a lot more to do and a lot more to learn.
“I’m 21 on the Friday before the Millwall game, so I might just pop home to Birmingham and celebrate with the family and friends, just be around good people.
“But whenever it’s anybody’s birthday the lads here make them feel welcome and they wish them happy birthday, so it’s like a home away from home here as well.”
Redmond has been maturing rapidly on the pitch for the Canaries as well this season, finding a new level of consistency in his general play and with his final ball.
He has managed to continue fulfilling his potential, despite plenty of pressure on his shoulders and with a change of coaching staff at City midway through the season.
Redmond did his best to keep a level head throughout.
“With all the stuff going on off the pitch, with transfer rumours and managerial changes and stuff like that, it’s something that comes with the game and you can’t really take it too personally because at the end of the day there’s always another game just round the corner,” the Birmingham-born winger said.
“In terms of consistency, a lot of people have asked why I haven’t chosen to go on elsewhere, but I was a part of the squad which got relegated so I felt in my head it was only right that I knuckle down and help the club get back into the Premier League. At the same time I’m only 20 going on 21, how many 21-year-olds are playing week-in, week-out in the Championship, let alone in the Premier League?
“I’ve always been taught to appreciate what you’ve got and that a lot of people aren’t as lucky as you are. So I’d be foolish to be doing stupid things off the pitch, or on the pitch, and not trying to harness my talent - and what better way to do that than doing what I love day-in, day-out.”
One of Redmond’s biggest tests this season came in December, when former manager Neil Adams left the starlet on the substitutes’ bench for three matches.
Since Alex Neil took over from Adams in January, Redmond has regained his regular starting role with City, but he can now see he learned some valuable lessons during that rough patch.
His first match of that spell on the bench was for the visit of Huddersfield to Carrow Road – a game which he sparked into life after coming on at half-time with the score at 0-0.
By the time Redmond was finished, the Canaries were cruising to a 5-0 victory.
“In terms of results for the team it was a high point, but in terms of myself I wasn’t in a good place at the time, I’d been out of the side for three or four games and I’d been working hard to get myself into the team,” Redmond reflected.
“I was a bit frustrated as to why I wasn’t playing but as a footballer you have to take that sometimes and the chance came when I came on and I wanted to give myself the best chance to get myself back into the side.
“It was 0-0 at half-time and I came on, created two and scored one myself, so I’d done my job, but I found myself back on the bench the next game. So I was sort of in-out, in-out for the next couple of weeks. So it was still a bit frustrating but as a team we were picking up points against Millwall and Huddersfield, which were vital for us.
“Personally, I want to play in every game whether it’s a cup game against someone from the Conference or whatever.
“So to be dropped, it’s hard not to take it personally, for them to say they want to give you a rest.
“But looking back now it was maybe just the perfect time to come out.
“I’d had a good run in the team at the start of the season and I’d been playing well, but not as well as I knew I could have been, so now looking back I think it was really the mental break as well as the physical break that I needed.”
Redmond cites song-writing as one hobby which helps him to relax and switch off from football, and after trading life in a big city for the quieter pace of life in Norfolk, he has found a place where he has been able to relax when he needs to.
The quirky character of the Norwich Lanes is among the England Under-21 star’s favourite things about his new life in the east – where he is now happy to call Norfolk his home.
“It’s a lot quieter, coming from a big city where there’s a lot going on, there’s four or five football clubs for people to support, it’s a very multi-cultural city as well and moving to Norfolk, it was a big culture shock, it was a lot calmer,” Redmond continued.
“I just think when the decision was made, when the time came for sitting down with my family and deciding where I wanted to go, Norwich ticked all the boxes.
“In Birmingham it’s quite easy for young players to get roped into all sorts of madness that’s going on in the city so to just be away meant I could focus on myself, focus on football and it just seemed the perfect place.
“Now, I love the place. I can just walk around the city centre and it’s so calm, you feel free and the people here are nice as well, so it didn’t really take me long to feel settled.
“The one thing that I do like that I’ve never really seen before were the brick road shops, he adds. “The back alleys, those type of shops, the small little cafes and antique shops and whatnot, you don’t really get that in Birmingham.
“It’s all high end stuff there, you’ve got the Bullring, Corporation Street, Harvey Nicholls in Birmingham. Those shops round by Jarrolds it’s nice round there, you can just wander round there and it’s quite relaxing.”
This is an extract from a column which first appeared in the Canary magazine in 2015 and is reproduced with permission from Norwich City FC