Jamie means business
CHRIS LAKEY Jamie Cureton vowed to complete some unfinished business after completing his switch back to the club where he launched his career 13 years ago. The 31-year-old - the Championship's Golden Boot winner last season - became Peter Grant's third signing of the summer when moved from Colchester on a three-year for an undisclosed fee.
Jamie Cureton vowed to complete some unfinished business after completing his switch back to the club where he launched his career 13 years ago.
The 31-year-old - the Championship's Golden Boot winner last season - became Peter Grant's third signing of the summer when moved from Colchester on a three-year for an undisclosed fee.
“I'm delighted with the move back to Norwich,” said Cureton. “There's been a lot of speculation and other clubs have been interested, but it was always Norwich that I wanted to come back to.”
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Cureton had a remarkable eye for goal during his time in City's youth team in the early 90s, scoring 82 times in 90 games and the subsequent move up to reserve team football didn't dull his eye for goal.
When he made his debut for City on November 5, 1994 the fans expected fireworks, but Cureton's first team career was a damp squib and, after just 13 league starts, he was on his way.
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It was a failure that has long lived with him and which he has openly admitted he would love to put right.
“I scored a lot of goals at youth and reserve level here and managed to get a few goals in big games for the first team,” said Cureton, who scored twice against Ipswich - most memorably at Portman Road in 1996 when he sported green hair.
“But if I'm honest I didn't really feel my first team career got going here and I'm determined to put that right this time.”
Cureton has rarely failed to score goals wherever he has gone, but last season he was an exceptional performer in what was an exceptional season for Colchester. Paired with the giant Chris Iwelumo, he plundered 23 goals in 44 Championship starts - including the opener in a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road in October and the first in a 3-0 home win in March. The celebrations for both were muted to the point of being invisible to the naked eye.
At 31, Cureton insists he still has plenty to learn.
“I managed to finish as top scorer in the Championship last season and that's what I've got to be aiming for again with Norwich,” he said.
“With the quality of players we have in the squad there's no reason why I should not get a lot of goals and no reason why we shouldn't be going all out for promotion.
“I will be 32 in August, but I still have plenty in the locker, don't worry about that. I'm probably playing the best I have ever played at the moment and I'm raring to go. I'm ambitious and I want to get to the Premiership with Norwich.
“It's a great club and the stadium and the facilities have improved even more since I was here before. I can't wait to get cracking with the rest of the lads in training to be honest.”
Cureton said he wasn't sure whether he would ever repeat his green hair during a match again.
He laughed: “I guess a lot of people will be asking me that question and I was thinking of getting it done again for the press conference. To be honest, I have no plans to repeat it at the moment but you never know, let's see how things go.”
The green delighted fans, but might well have infuriated his manager of the time, Gary Megson. Red rag to a bull, more like - but Cureton had a habit of upsetting his managers. Having failed to hold down a first team place at City, and with one loan spell at Bournemouth on his CV, he was shipped out to hometown club Bristol Rovers, a move which became permanent in October, 1996 - and the goals came flooding back.
There were rumours of a return to Carrow Road as early as 1999, but a year later Cureton joined Reading for £250,000. It was a productive spell: 50 goals in 74 league starts attracted the attentions of a whole host of clubs - Norwich included. But when Norwich didn't call, Cureton made the surprising choice of uprooting to South Korea.
The money was good, the facilities were good, but life in the sprawling port city didn't suit Cureton and in November, 2003 he was released from his contract, eventually joining former boss Ian Holloway at QPR.
Within months the London club were promoted to Division One, but by the summer of 2005 Cureton was on his way again. He landed at Swindon, but failed to make an impact and was loaned out to Colchester - and his career was resurrected.
The move became permanent at the beginning of last season and Cureton was back in business with a vengeance.
Cureton's contribution to the cause helped promoted Colchester to 10th place in the final standings, but the summer has brought problems for manager Geraint Williams: he has lost Iwelumo to Charlton, Richard Garcia is on his way to Hull and assistant manager Mick Harford has joined QPR.
Cureton saw the writing on the wall - and put his own words down on paper, entitled “transfer request”.
Colchester turned him down and then rejected an offer from Hull City. The chance of a move to Norwich appeared to be slim as Grant chased Billy Sharp - but less than 24 hours after the Scunthorpe striker turned City down in favour of Sheffield United, Cureton's return to Carrow Road was confirmed.
Next season he will be back in the yellow and green of Norwich City.
The question is: can he do it at the second time of asking?
t Norwich (February 1993 to October 1996)
All competitions: 13 appearances (plus 19 as sub) 6 goals
t Bournemouth (loan, September 1995)
0 (6) appearances, 0 goals
t Bristol Rovers (loan, September to October 1996)
t Bristol Rovers (October 1996 to August 2000)
Fee paid: £200,000
184 (10) appearances, 74 goals
t Reading (August 2000 to July 2003)
Fee paid: £250,000
89 (38) appearances, 55 goals
t Pusan Icons (July 2003 to November 2003)
t Queens Park Rangers (February 2004 to June 2005)
23 (23) appearances, 7 goals
t Swindon (June 2005, June 2006)
22 (10) appearances, 7 goals
t Colchester (loan, October 2005 to January 2006)
9 (1) appearances, 7 goals
t Colchester (June 2006 to June 2007)
45 (1) appearances, 24 goals
t Norwich City (June 2007-)