The Insider: Lee Marshall

DAVID CUFFLEY Tomorrow's Championship match at the Walkers Stadium not only brings two of Lee Marshall's old clubs head to head - it also pits his former boss at Norwich City against his former midfield colleague.


Tomorrow's Championship match at the Walkers Stadium not only brings two of Lee Marshall's old clubs head to head - it also pits his former boss at Norwich City against his former midfield colleague.

Nigel Worthington's arrival at Leicester as manager until the end of the season has produced one of those happy footballing coincidences, whereby the man sacked by the Canaries six months ago kicks off his new job with a match against his previous employers.

Worthington was the last of four managers under whom Marshall played during four years at Norwich. And current Carrow Road boss Peter Grant was, for two seasons, Marshall's team-mate.

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“I started out in central midfield with Peter Grant,” said Marshall, still only 28 but forced to retire from the game two years ago after suffering a broken leg while on loan at Hull City.

“When Peter came to Norwich, he was always as fit as a fiddle, always at the front in training.

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“When we were there under Bruce Rioch, he was always interested in the coaching side of the game and I wasn't surprised that he got into coaching. It's easy to say someone will make a good manager - going out and managing a club is a different thing - but I thought he would be well suited to it.”

Islington-born Marshall was spotted by former City boss Dave Stringer and was signed from Enfield by manager Mike Walker for £15,000 in March 1997.

No stranger to misfortune, he broke his ankle in his second game for City at West Bromwich Albion but bounced back to make 131 senior appearances, mostly in midfield after starting out as a full-back, scoring 13 times, before joining Leicester for £600,000 in 2001.

Walker, Rioch, Bryan Hamilton and Worthington all managed the Canaries during that time.

Said Marshall: “I always got on with Nigel, from when he was first there with Bryan Hamilton and then when Bryan left and he took charge with Steve Foley.

“As long as you gave 100 per cent and put in the work, Nigel was happy enough. He was good to me.

“It was just that it was coming up to the time for a new contract, Nigel had only been in charge a few weeks, the transfer window ended in March and it came about that I had this chance to go to Leicester. I was 22 and I felt it was too good an opportunity to miss.

“They got a bit of money for me and were able to bring in Adam Drury and Gary Holt.”

Worthington's return to management does not surprise Marshall.

He said: “A manager out of work is looking to get back into the game straightaway.

“Nigel's a good manager. He's done it with Norwich by getting the club promoted and he will be able to do a good job for Leicester.

“They're two good clubs and I had good times at both. I've not got a bad word to say about either.”

As to whether either club ought to be back in the top flight as soon as they would like, Marshall is cautious.

He said: “There are so many clubs in a similar position who have come down from the Premiership. You look at people like Southampton and West Brom and you think, yes, they should be up there again, but they can't all go up.

“With all the parachute money for teams coming down, the Championship is a tough league to get out of.

“There are probably a dozen clubs who think they should be back up there again and Leicester and Norwich are just two of them.”

Marshall still keeps in regular touch with two of his former Norwich team-mates.

He said: “Darren Kenton and Darel Russell are the two I speak two fairly regularly. Darren is at Leicester so he will be with Nigel again, and Darel's doing well at Stoke and they're going very well at the moment.”

Marshall spent just over a year at Leicester, playing 48 games, before a £700,000 switch to West Bromwich Albion in 2002, but it was an unhappy time under Gary Megson and he made just 10 appearances.

He was reunited with former Leicester boss Peter Taylor in a loan spell at Hull, but in his 11th game for the Tigers, he broke his tibia and fibula in a League Two game against Kidderminster in April 2004 and, after returning to West Bromwich, was forced to retire a year later.

Marshall now lives in Cuffley, Hertfordshire, with wife Natasha and sons Ross, aged seven, and Harley, two. He has no involvement in football and says he has adjusted to a premature end to his career.

He said: “I'm a sort of part-time house husband. I was never interested in the coaching side of things, doing coaching badges. I didn't really see myself in that sort of role.

“I can't really say I miss it too much. If I had been settled at Norwich or Leicester and broken my leg when I was in the team, it would have hurt more, but the way things panned out when I went to West Brom, not getting along with Gary Megson, left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

“They got promoted while I was there but the infrastructure of the club wasn't really right. It was all about the first team. The reserves used to train on the university pitches.

“I enjoyed my time with Peter Taylor at Hull and I began to enjoy playing again but then ended up with a broken leg - sod's law but the rest is history.”

He admits he will keep an eye on the score from Leicester tomorrow.

He said: “I'm always looking to see how my former clubs are doing and I will look out for this one.

“With Nigel just going to Leicester, it gives it a nice coincidence. You will be having a field day with all the hype. I can see there being a few goals, maybe a 2-2.”

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