Norwich City fan saves the day when cult Canaries striker appeals for help to get him to the game on time
PUBLISHED: 18:05 07 January 2014 | UPDATED: 18:05 07 January 2014
Zut alors! You will never guess who this Canaries fan had in the back of his car. French football star and former Norwich City forward Marc Libbra fell victim to the British Bank Holiday when he tried to get from London to Norfolk to take his son on a birthday trip to Carrow Road.
With no trains running from the capital in time for the match, chef and season ticket holder Adam Bateman stepped in to give the footballer, his son Lucas, 18, and best friend Sebastian Castelli, 17, a lift up to Norwich.
“I saw on Twitter that someone wanted a lift to the game, but it didn’t say who it was,” said Mr Bateman, 24, who lives in London but grew up in Norwich.
“When I found out, after I had agreed to it, that it was Marc, I was pretty excited but also a little bit nervous.”
Libbra, 41, said: “It was a magnificent gesture, really nice,
Marc Libbra factfile
Marc Libbra factfile:
Born: August 5, 1972
From: Toulon, France
Nickname: Viva Marc Libbra
Olympique de Marseille 1993-1998
AS Cannes 1998-1999
Toulouse FC 1999-2001
Hibernian FC (on loan) 2000-2001
Norwich City FC 2001-2002
“I had booked Eurostar tickets from Paris to London but then, 48 hours before we were due to leave, I found I couldn’t get train tickets from London to Norwich. So I contacted Norwich City FC and they put out an appeal to their supporters in London. I had several offers of a lift on Twitter but Adam’s was the first.”
After making sure he wasn’t putting Mr Bateman to too much trouble, Libbra, who scored seven goals during a short-spell at the club but became something of a cult hero amongst the fans, and his two young companions travelled with their three suitcases from St Pancras station for 45 minutes on the underground and DLR to meet him in Docklands.
Their journey up to Norwich in Mr Bateman’s Ford Focus Sport took three hours, due to two accidents causing delays on the route.
“We talked about everything,” said Libbra.
“But Adam and my son talked a lot about Norwich City FC. They are both real fans.”
The trip from Paris, where he now lives, to Carrow Road was a present for Lucas’ 18th birthday.
“I asked him what he would like to do, and expected him to say he’d like a holiday in Thailand or America. But he asked if we could go to Norwich to see the football,” said Libbra.
“Since we lived in Norwich when I played for the club in 2001/02, Lucas has been devoted. He knows everything about NCFC. If he plays football manager computer games, he chooses Norwich as his team. He knows all the chants by heart.”
The young fan was also delighted with a tour around the club’s Colney training ground on December 27, where he was given a shirt signed by the team - and made the most of a trip to the club shop, buying scarves, a DVD on the history of Norwich City FC and a Carrow Road sign for his bedroom.
They stayed at the Holiday Inn which overlooks the football ground and attended the Norwich v Manchester United match on December 28 - Lucas’ birthday, before heading back to London and then Paris on December 29.
“Lucas went to school in Norwich when we lived there and has memories of real football - playing with friends after school,” said Libbra.
“It’s true that it is like a religion in England. He has already asked if we can go back to Norwich next Boxing Day. I’ve said he’s a grown-up now, he can go where he likes!”
“But it was super to go back to Norwich. It touched me to see the place and see everyone again. I was very happy there.”
Libbra and Mr Bateman have been in touch since the lift, wishing each other a happy new year on Twitter.
“We talked about Paris because my sister lives there,” said Mr Bateman.
“Who knows, next time I visit her, maybe we could meet up.”