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Wembley revisited: Three years on where are those Norwich City play-off final heroes?

Russell Martin lifts the Championship play-off final trophy at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Russell Martin lifts the Championship play-off final trophy at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

It’s three years since Norwich City beat Middlesbrough 2-0 in the Championship play-off final at Wembley, a day never to be forgotten. But where are they now? CHRIS LAKEY takes a trip down memory lane...

Alex Neil on City's lap of honour Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Alex Neil on City's lap of honour Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Three years ago today Norwich City were on Cloud Nine.

A big day out at Wembley for the Championship play-off final ended in glory as they beat Middlesbrough 2-0 to earn a place in the Premier League.

Manager Alex Neil was feted, raised on the shoulders of his players in front of the yellow and green travelling army of fans as they celebrated victory.

May 25, 2015 was a day no Norwich City fan will forget.

Celebration time at Wembley 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Celebration time at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

What followed was that inevitable difficult Premier League campaign, which saw the Canaries relegated. Neil was tasked with getting them back up again and it was going well when City were second in the table in the October, but seven wins in 24 games saw them drop to eighth, and in March last year, Neil went.

So, where are they all now? Well, only two of the Wembley matchday squad are still Norwich City players... and arguably only one of them has much of a future at Carrow Road...

Manager

Selfie-time in the Wembley dressing room. Picture: Action Images Selfie-time in the Wembley dressing room. Picture: Action Images

Alex Neil

Came in as a virtual unknown from Hamilton, took City into the Premier League and, after two years at the helm, lost this job. Re-emerged as Preston boss four months later, taking the Lilywhites to seventh in the table, two points off the play-off spots.

Team

Norwich players and fans celebrate victory 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Norwich players and fans celebrate victory Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

John Ruddy

Left Carrow Road a year ago, mainly due to the financial constraints facing the powers that be at Carrow Road – he was one of the not so magnificent seven who were ‘allowed’ to leave. Went to Wolves, played 45 league games – and is now a Premier League player, after the Black Country’s sleeping giants swept their way to the Championship title.

Steven Whittaker

One of the aforementioned seven, Whittaker had two more seasons at City, but they were tough times, with the crowd often on his back. Headed back to Scotland with Hibernian last summer. The former Rangers man hasn’t endeared himself to his former club after a picture emerged of him attending Scott Brown’s testimonial – with his lad wearing full Celtic kit. Oops

City celebrate after the opening goal 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd City celebrate after the opening goal Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Russell Martin

Another who has spent the season north of the border, this time with Rangers – but it has been a disappointing loan spell, with the locals getting on Martin’s back towards the end. Definitely a case of future uncertain for the former Canaries skipper who held the play-off trophy aloft – and slept with it that night.

Martin Olsson

This is in danger of this becoming a theme, but it hasn’t been the best season for the Swede, who was relegated with Swansea, where he moved in January last year. If there’s compensation it’s that he has been included in Sweden’s World Cup squad, so not all bad then....

Bradley Johnson lifts the trophy 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Bradley Johnson lifts the trophy Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Sebastien Bassong

Probably the least conspicuous of the Wembley team nowadays – where’s Seb? Had a stint on the turntables, as a DJ, but since his exit as one of the ‘seven’ hasn’t kicked a ball in anger. Birmingham had a look at the start of the season, but never followed up their interest. Do you know where Seb is? Answer on a postcard...

Bradley Johnson

Just missed out on the play-off final with Derby County, a club he joined, to many people’s surprise, four months after his big day out at Wembley. An awful lot of City fans have missed him ever since..

Nathan Redmond and Bradley Johnson celebrate victory 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Nathan Redmond and Bradley Johnson celebrate victory Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jonny Howson

The Howitzer apparently angled for a move back up north and so, in July last year, joined Middlesbrough. Scored three goals last season – he’s better than that really...

Wes Hoolahan

Made his final, tearful, appearance at home to Leeds – City’s penultimate game of the season – after being released. Now looking for another club: Australia and America have been rumoured as his next destination. Never to be forgotten.

Sealed with a kiss - John Ruddy 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Sealed with a kiss - John Ruddy Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Nathan Redmond

Pretty disappointing season with Southampton, who escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth. Joined Saints two summers ago for £10m. Many people thought he’d ‘push on’ but it’s not quite happened for him. We’ll never forget he scored the second goal at Wembley.

Alex Tettey

The only player genuinely likely to pull on a City shirt next season. Looked likely to move on but signed a new two-year contract at the beginning of the month and will provide vital experience – and steel – to the side next season. Hugely popular. #notetteynoparty

Middlesbrough keeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos punches clear as City attack 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Middlesbrough keeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos punches clear as City attack Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Cameron Jerome

Scorer of the opening goal at Wembley, in the 12th minute. Never accused of being work-shy, but managed only three in 35 Premier League appearances. Back in form the following season in the Championship but struggled for goals in 2017-18 and signed for Derby in January – by a club with very few striking options. Ended the season with five goals in five games.

Subs

Steven Whittaker and Nathan Redmond celebrate goal number two 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Steven Whittaker and Nathan Redmond celebrate goal number two Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Declan Rudd

Thought he was finally going to be number one when Ruddy left, but in came Angus Gunn and Rudd ended up joining Preston – just before old City boss Alex Neil became manager.

Ryan Bennett

One of the ’seven’, the centre-half followed Rudd to Wolves. Wasn’t always Mr Popular here, but made an impact at Molineux where has was a major part of their Championship-winning squad.

Dimitrios Konstantopoulos can only watch as a shot by Bradley Johnson rebounds off the crossbar Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Dimitrios Konstantopoulos can only watch as a shot by Bradley Johnson rebounds off the crossbar Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Elliott Bennett

Popular winger left here for Blackburn six months after Wembley – and could well be back this season after Rovers returned to the Championship, having finished second in League One.

Gary O’Neil

Came on as an 87th-minute replacement for Redmond. Played a big part in the Premier League season but left for Bristol City two summers ago. Just been released by the Robins.

City fans at Wembley 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd City fans at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Graham Dorrans

A 75th-minute replacement for Hoolahan, Dorrans returned to Glasgow a year ago, joining Rangers. “There’s never a bad time to sign for Rangers,” he said. Whatever.

Lewis Grabban

Replaced Jerome in the 74th minute. Fans here never seemed to take to Grabban. City reportedly paid £3m to sign him from Bournemouth – then sold him back to the Cherries for £8m just 18 months later. Grabban is on loan at Aston Villa and likely to play in Saturday’s Championship play-off final against Fulham.

City fans at Wembley 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd City fans at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Gary Hooper

Looks to have lost his way a little. Hooper just couldn’t crack it at City and left for Sheffield Wednesday in January 2016. Scored 11 goals last season, but didn’t play a game after Boxing Day having picked up an injury. Cracking scorer in the right team.

City fans at Wembley 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd City fans at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City fans at Wembley 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd City fans at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City fans at Wembley 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd City fans at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City fans at Wembley 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd City fans at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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