David Hannant: Magic Max is one in a million

Emi Buendia, left, and Max Aarons formed a fine right-side partnership under Daniel Farke Picture: P

Emi Buendia, left, and Max Aarons formed a fine right-side partnership under Daniel Farke Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The inspiration for my column this week was my snap reaction to a Tweet from my colleague and all round top guy David Freezer.

Following Saturday’s late win over Sheffield Wednesday he Tweeted: “Boom! A 19 and a 20-year-old save the day...”

I don’t often doubt Dave, but my snap reaction was something along the lines of “surely that can’t be right?”

One swift trip to the club site later and I see the date of birth, January 4, 2000 on Max Aarons’ profile.

While I do fit the old stereotype of journalists being shocking at maths pretty well, I can safely say that, yes, that does make him 20!

So why was I so surprised to learn that Max is only 20? 

Max Aarons wearing a Norwich City shirt sponsored by LeoVegas. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Max Aarons wearing a Norwich City shirt sponsored by LeoVegas. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

On one hand, it could of course be something to do with the fact that 2020 has lasted approximately 20 years anyway - while simultaneously flashing by.

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But on the other, more likely hand, it is just a true testament to the player Max Aarons is. 

The way he burst onto the scene in that East Anglian Derby two and a bit years ago - and all that has happened since - speaks volumes. The full-back has been so ever present that it just feels like he’s been around forever.

Now obviously it does get quite tough to keep track of ages of players anyway, unless you’re the most avid statistics fan, but I don’t think it is merely how time has flown that made me feel that Max surely must be a few years older than 20 by now. And that is truly to his credit.

Wednesday's visit of Nottingham Forest will see Max become a Norwich City centurion, before he is even old enough to order a beer in the United States.

I haven’t consulted the record books for this one, but there can’t be too many other players in the club’s history that achieved this milestone at such a young age.

But besides from his baby-faced appearance, nothing about Max Aarons cries out 20 years old.

When I was 20, drinking a bottle of wine before heading out on a night out was what I would consider a good idea - as I coasted my way to a journalism degree at the University of Northampton.

I’m sure plenty of other people at that age thought the same way - but thankfully those days are long behind me.

Max Aarons, though, seems to have maturity way beyond his years, both on and off the field.

The Barcelona link is ancient history now, but there can’t be too many 20-year-old players in the Championship that can turn that to white noise in the same way Max appears to have done.

Phrases like “model pro” get thrown around these days with similar frequency to words like “legend” to the point that they lose all real meaning. However, for Max Aarons, it fits perfectly.

I have to admit, when he went down in a heap against Coventry I feared the worst, but there he was, just days later, fit and ready.

That’s not to say those who do pick up injuries are inferior, far from it, but for him to be able to shake that knock off so quickly must say a lot about the way he looks after himself.

Everything about City’s number two cries out maturity beyond his years - both on the pitch and off.

While he does love to get forward, he reads the game terrifically well and you very seldom see him skinned.

And listening to him talk is equally impressive - he sounds measured, humble and with his head well and truly screwed on.

Speaking after the Wednesday game, he acknowledged the greater weight of expectation on his shoulders having been a first team fixture for two and a bit full seasons and recognised that he is no longer seen as one of the youngsters - and in no way appeared to shy away from that.

He said: “If you’re a bit inexperienced and misplace a pass or make a mistake then people can accept it and say you’re a bit inexperienced, but then there comes a point where you’re expected to be the best player in the team or performing at your highest level every week which is something that I relish, but it is a transition that you need to make yourself aware of. It’s been good.”

Max Aarons lays on the third goal for Teemu Pukki at Hillsborough - after some fine work down the ri

Max Aarons lays on the third goal for Teemu Pukki at Hillsborough - after some fine work down the right flank Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

That’s just such a terrific attitude to have and all we can ask from any of our squad, whether they are 20, 30, or 90 years old.

It is clear that Aarons won’t be a Norwich City player for his entire career - as much as I would love for that to be the case.

He is destined for big things and will no doubt play for England.

It’s impossible to say when he will move on to bigger things, though I would love to think he will see this campaign out. However, one thing is for sure, while we have him he will give his all and continue to be a star.

Like so many of the young talents to come through in recent years, we are truly lucky to have him - so let’s treasure him.

Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons have come a long way since Portman Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Im

Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons have come a long way since Portman Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Fan forum event


Speaking of Max Aarons, there is a great chance to hear from him next week, thanks to the Norwich City Fans Social Club.

Max and Mayor of Norwich Kenny McLean will be taking part in a Zoom call hosted by Darren Eadie next Monday.

It’s a real coup for this dedicated group of supporters to organise such events, that really help break down barriers between the club itself and the fanbase.

As supporters, we are lucky to have so many opportunities to engage with the players on a personal level and this is a great example of it.

I’m sure both Max and Kenny will have heaps of stories to tell and it should make for an entertaining evening for everyone who chooses to join in.

Tickets for the event, which is held on Zoom at 7.30pm on Monday, December 14, are £5 apiece - and you don’t even need to buy a substantial meal to attend it.

For all the key information you need, head to the Norwich City Fans social club website at www.ncfsc.co.uk

I was robbed!

I always try my best to keep things positive on this page, but I’m afraid this week I’m rounding up with a moan.

Last week, Dave Freezer and I made a fun video to promote the Norwich City sticker book.

Both of us opened five packs of the stickers before selecting five-a-side teams from the players we had inside.

On finishing that challenge it was then up to you to decide whose team was better, through the tried and tested method of a Twitter poll.

What happened next was the plain and simply a farce.

I don’t remember exactly what the poll ended up on, but suffice to say, Team Hannant was comprehensively beaten.

I am preparing legal challenges as we speak.

Personally, I thought it was pretty tight between the two - but that said the battle of the keepers is probably what sealed it - Dave had John Ruddy while I had England’s number one - Cody McDonald!

I’m honestly not sore about my crushing defeat, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - democracy simply doesn’t work.