Former Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie - Win over Manchester United highlight of my career

Leon McKenize celebrates scoring against Manchester United. Leon McKenize celebrates scoring against Manchester United.

Saturday, November 17, 2012
3:05 PM

Leon McKenzie has promised Norwich City’s current generation a win over Manchester United tonight will be the highlight of their career.

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The City cult hero scored in a famous 2005 Carrow Road Premier League victory that remains the Canaries only success against United stretching back more than two decades.

“For me, that day will always be the highlight of my career,” he said. “They are memories that I will have forever and no matter what has happened no-one can ever take away from me that goal and that feeling of beating them. They had a team out that day, don’t you worry about that. They didn’t try to mug us off, they just brought the stars on too late and that was the bottom line. They were still able to play the likes of Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and (Ruud) van Nistelrooy. I thought we just played better on the day and probably wanted it a bit more. Not just as a team but as individuals we stepped up and that is what maybe shocked a few people.”

Chris Hughton’s men just have to believe. Then anything could be possible.

“He is a fantastic manager and he has enough about him and has enough experience to know what is required,” said McKenzie. “With the lads, they have to believe. They are there for a reason. Just have the confidence to go out and express yourself. When there is a collective belief and you are all in it together it makes one hell of a difference. You can be the most talented person in the world but you have to work hard. If you don’t, then hard work will always come out on top against talent.

“I remember on a few occasions when I was stood in the tunnel or maybe just about to kick-off I would look around and sometimes it could throw you off – knowing where I had come from and how hard I had to work to get to that point. You would stop and look and think to yourself. ‘Oh my gosh, there is Thierry Henry or van Nistelrooy.’ The reality of it was hard to take but when you first touch the ball, then it’s on. When that whistle went I was in the game.”

Dean Ashton was also on the scoresheet back in 2005 with a flying header before turning provider for McKenzie to seal all three points for Nigel Worthington’s battlers. McKenzie speaks in glowing terms about his one-time Norwich strike partner in his new book, ‘My Fight With Life’, due out at the end of this month which offers a brutally frank account of his turbulent life since retirement. “Yes, I actually talk about Deano in my book and about how highly I rated him. For us both to score that day that was really when I felt our partnership came together,” he said. “We’ve got a launch party on December 9 and that is going to be great. It was definitely an emotional, therapeutic process to actually sit down and write the book. It was quite draining at times. I just can’t believe that I have been able to write my life or as much as I could remember. It really is just an honest account of what has happened to me and where I am at today. The good thing for me is it won’t just appeal to football fans who know me from that side of my life, it will appeal to people who have gone through difficult challenges in their own lives.”

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