Norwich City land their Mr Motivator
David Cuffley Matthew Gill's dream move to Norwich City is a fitting reward for revitalising his career in the lower divisions - according to one of his biggest fans.
Matthew Gill's dream move to Norwich City is a fitting reward for revitalising his career in the lower divisions - according to one of his biggest fans.
Darren Gill, a former apprentice with the Canaries, said his younger brother had proved it was possible to battle back from non-League football and still make an impact in the higher reaches of the game.
Matthew dropped into Conference football when he left Notts County for Exeter City three years ago, but it was a case of taking one step back to move two forward after successive promotions with the Devon club.
Now the 28-year-old's career has come full circle with a return to his native Norwich after signing a two-year contract at Carrow Road as Bryan Gunn's first summer capture.
Said Darren: “When Matthew went down to Exeter it was a brave move. He took himself out of the Football League but has fought his way back and if anybody deserves to play in League One with Norwich City it's him. He had enough about himself to believe in his ability.
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“I think he was player of the year twice in three seasons at Exeter and he scored nine goals last season.
“I'm absolutely delighted. It's a dream move for him and likewise a very good move for Norwich City.
“When he came back from holiday in Spain last week there were mumblings and murmurings but Saturday evening was the first time we got some kind of definite idea the move might be on.
“I think he is a fantastic acquisition for Norwich because if anyone knows what it's like playing in an away match in that league on a cold, damp night in February it's him.”
Darren's own non-League footballing career, including 10 successful years with Wroxham, has made it difficult for him to watch his brother in action regularly.
“I've not seen him much at all because I was playing a lot of times when he was playing,” he said.
“I saw one or two games at Notts County but he wasn't given too much chance because he was out of favour there. But I saw him play at Wembley for Exeter.
“His strengths are that he keeps possession, he doesn't give the ball away, he keeps it for fun. He has a great right foot, and a good left foot, good vision and he does like a tackle.
“He's in the peak of condition, playing the best football he's ever played and if there is one thing that would attract anyone it's playing in front of a full house at Carrow Road.
“Exeter were one of the best supported teams in League Two, getting more than 8,000 for some games but Norwich have had 24,000.”
Darren and Matthew, both qualified tennis coaches, are business partners in the Premier Racquets & Fitness Centre at Sedgeford, near Hunstanton, and Matthew already has his FA Level 2 coaching badge.
They have come a long way since family games at home and the days when Matthew watched his brother in action for City's youth team two decades ago.
“I can remember him watching me at Trowse in his Scoreline tracksuit when he was six or seven years old. He always wanted to be a pro and he has always wanted to move back to Norfolk,” said Darren.
“I like to think I had a certain influence in the back garden when we played football with our brother Dean.
“Dean is a sergeant-major in the Royal Artillery and has just completed six months in Basra, so we are all very, very proud of both of them.”
Darren said the three brothers had “wonderfully supportive parents” in Wendy and Mick, who live at Holt, and there may still be time to re-enact their family football rivalry.
“We'll probably have a kickabout on Sunday afternoon and it will be very competitive. I'm 10 years older but I can still outrun him,” he said.