Dion Dublin hails Chris Martin’s career milestone
Chris Martin is set to make his 100th Norwich City appearance this weekend – and Dion Dublin believes some early words of wisdom have helped his former team-mate.
Portsmouth's visit to Carrow Road on Saturday – plus Grant Holt's suspension – will most likely see Academy product Martin follow current City stars Simon Lappin and Adam Drury in topping a century of Norwich outings – with his tally of 34 goals making an impressive strike rate of one goal in every three games.
Having been on City's books since the age of 10, five goals in his first nine appearances at the start of 2007 helped an 18-year-old Beccles youngster earn his first professional deal from Peter Grant.
And although he found himself out of favour under Grant's managerial replacement, Glenn Roeder, his subsequent season on loan to League Two Luton Town in 2008-09 saw Martin shine – form he reproduced during his 23-goal season for City in League One that followed.
Still only 22, and having helped himself to the winner in Norwich's excellent 2-1 win at high flying Derby last weekend, Martin's progress shows no sign of slowing.
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And Dublin, who played alongside Martin during his two-season reunion with the Canaries between 2006 and 2008, believes he now has the attitude to go with his talent.
'In regards his talent, it was always there; it was probably his attitude that used to let him down,' said Dublin. 'He was always opinionated, maybe came across cocky, and what I usually tell young footballers at that age is take on board the right stuff and disregard the wrong stuff.
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'I think with time and maybe a few harsh words from myself and the pros around then as well, that is what he's done.
'He's always been a good footballer, good footballing brain. He's the right height and right shape to be the kind of footballer he wants, and he finishes really well for a forward.
'The biggest hurdle Chris has overcome is his attitude towards the game, and I think that's completely changed. I can see it on the TV. He is excelling and it is because he has worked hard and listened to the right people, he's taken on board the right stuff and he's deserving all the plaudits he gets now.
'I'm not speaking out of turn when I say Chris was cocky and liked himself a little bit, because I told him that to his face.
'He's the kind of person that will listen and will take it on board, and has listened. Now he's a Norwich first team player. He's playing and he's going to get his 100th appearance for his home club – which is very rare, for somebody to come through the ranks and do that – so he's living proof that if you do buckle down and work very hard and you've got a little bit of talent, then if you can change the attitude you've got a great chance.'
Martin's initial emergence almost four years ago came with City in the Championship and, while the striker is proving this season he can consistently cut it in the second tier, Dublin – a top flight star with Manchester United, Aston Villa and Coventry – feels Martin's rise will not stop there.
'He's making the transition comfortably (to the Championship from League One),' said Dublin. 'People are now seeing that he can do it. He will score, take a shot, chip the keeper or do something quite out of the ordinary and you will think 'Wow, where did that come from? I didn't think about that'. You can only do that if you're half a step ahead of the person you're playing against.
'Chris has got everything that it takes to go on a play in the Premier League. He's got enough, full stop. The only thing that will stop him doing that is Chris himself.
'He has to make the right decisions, not just football decisions but off the field. He's got to realise now that he is, or will be, an expensive commodity. He's now an asset to Norwich and he's a big name, a big face around the area and in the leagues.
'So he's got to realise that when you're scoring goals and playing well and taking the plaudits for that, other things come along with that responsibility: aptitude, decision making, sacrifices. If Chris is willing to do that, then he will play in the Premier League.'
Of course, with City looking set to be involved in the Championship promotion picture this season under manager Paul Lambert, the next step may not be far away.
'You've got a backbone to the side, with Holty up front, John Ruddy in goal and a centre-half Elliott Ward, and once you get a strong backbone, you will start to branch out and play better football,' said Dublin.
'They've got a good balance and with the manager as well, who I think is brilliant, if they can keep all the elements right then yes, they have got the ingredients to go up.
'And I think if they're going to go up with anyone it's going to be with Mr Lambert, because he's a good man and a good manager.'
HIGHS AND LOWS OF CHRIS MARTIN'S CITY CAREER SO FAR
September 19 – First involvement with the first team as unused substitute in a Carling Cup tie at Rotherham.
January 30 – After impressing for City Under-18s in the FA Youth Cup, Martin makes his first team debut as a 77th- minute substitute in a home league defeat by Wolves.
February 13 – Two games later, Martin's first goal arrives; a 112th-minute winner in City's FA Cup fourth round replay win Blackpool at Carrow Road.
March 6 – Martin scores for the fourth game in succession, but visitors Derby turn the game on its head to win 2-1.
April 4 – Having been linked with Tottenham and Manchester United, as well as scoring the only goal on his England Under-19 debut, Martin signs a three and a half year deal with City.
August 7 – Without a goal in 21 City appearances since his Derby strike, boss Glenn Roeder loans Martin and Michael Spillane to crisis club Luton for 2008-09.
April 5 – Martin scores at Wembley to help beat Scunthorpe United in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final. He finishes top scorer at Luton with 13 goals in 51 appearances but a 30-point penalty over financial irregularities leaves Town demoted from the Football League.
August 8 – Bryan Gunn hands Martin a starting berth for the season opener, but City are beaten 7-1 on home soil by Paul Lambert's Colchester United.
September 1 – With Lambert now in charge at Norwich, Martin scores his first goal since returning from Luton, in the 1-0 JPT home win over Brentford.
November 7 – Martin hits four goals in a game for the first time, as City thrash non-league side Paulton Rovers 7-0 in the FA Cup.
January 16 – The striker's clinical brace sets City on the road to a delicious 5-0 revenge win at Colchester.
March 27 – An 89th-minute header seals a 1-0 win over promotion rivals Leeds United to send Carrow Road wild and bring the League One title within City's grasp. Martin finishes the season with 23 goals in 48 appearances.