Grant Holt can leave Norwich City with his head held high
- Credit: Focus Images
Grant Holt's time at Norwich City has come to an end – and like some of the great strikers who have preceded him, he should leave Carrow Road with praise ringing in his ears.
Dion Dublin, Iwan Roberts, Terry Allcock, the late great Ron Davies – some of the great players to have graced Carrow Road over the years.
Now add the name Grant Holt. A man who worked his way up from non league football while doubling as a tyre fitter in Carlisle.
A man who went to Singapore and Australia to try to prove to whoever would listen that he could score goals.
A man who improved with age, whose bustling style, mixed with a surprisingly deft touch and a no-nonsense, man-of-the-people personality, endeared him to supporters. Plus, 78 goals in the colours of Norwich City.
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Holt was signed by Bryan Gunn, but his debut, wearing the skipper's armband, was in that awful defeat by Colchester United on the opening day of the 2009-10 season. Holt fronted up for the post-match media inquest, and three days later scored a second-half hat-trick in a Carling Cup tie at Yeovil, which proved to be Gunn's final game in charge.
Incoming boss Paul Lambert stuck with Holt – and Holt responded with 30 goals, in all competitions, as City surged up League One and into the Championship.
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He was no one-season wonder: he added another 23 goals the following campaign, including a hat-trick in the 4-1 demolition of Ipswich in November 2010, which in itself was enough to ensure him a place in the history books forever.
There were many who thought he wouldn't be up to the challenge of the Premier League, but 15 goals made him the second highest scoring Englishman, behind Wayne Rooney, and prompted calls for him to be included in Roy Hodgson's squad for the European Championship.
It didn't happen, but as summer approached there was something else on the horizon, which tainted his otherwise untarnished standing among the Yellow and Green Army. Holt asked for a transfer.
To say it shocked City fans is an under-statement, but clearly something had upset him. Holt's agent alluded to a fall-out with someone at Carrow Road. In July, it was revealed Holt had signed a new deal and he then said all the fuss had been about getting a long-term contract.
Most were happy to see the matter resolved, but it is fair to say the summer of discontent has never been forgotten.
A new manager brought different tactics, and Holt often found himself an isolated figure in attack – and when that produced fewer goals than previous seasons, there were those who suddenly decided he wasn't interested, he was unfit, he wanted to leave - enough conspiracies to warrant Norwich's version of the Warren Commission.
It was harsh on Holt: he could never be accused of not fighting for the cause. He could never be accused of running scared. He could never be accused of not trying.
But the season was a tough one for Holt, and when he revealed that his family had moved back to their native Carlisle in recent months, it was manna from heaven for those intent on speculating about his future, and his motives.
Holt didn't help himself: he posted one or two loaded Tweets, which, mischievous or otherwise, simply added fuel to the flames.
When City announced that Chris Hughton had added Ricky van Wolfswinkel to his squad, it was inevitable that The Holt Question would crop up again. It did, and it has never really left. Speculation linking City with other strikers again added fuel to the flames.
Add up all the factors: the transfer request, the family move (even though he always denied it had any bearing on his playing for Norwich), his age, new signings … it is no great surprise that a man who has arguably had more impact than any other player at Norwich City in recent years, is on his way.
He won the Player of the Season award three years on the trot – you don't do that unless you have played a part, a major part, in the Norwich City story.
When people look back at an incredible period in the club's history, the name Grant Holt will feature loud and proud.