Huckerby’s soft spot for Coventry

Canaries hero Darren Huckerby has nailed his colours firmly to the Norwich City mast – but in his younger years there was clearly a rival for his affections.

Huckerby's first real showing on the Premier League stage came with Coventry City, where he spent almost three years in the top flight before the Sky Blues cashed in on him to the tune of �4million from Leeds United.

Huckerby will be at the Ricoh Arena tomorrow when the two cities come face to face and will have support from both ends of the ground.

The 34-year-old admitted this week he never wanted to leave the Sky Blues in 1999 in a deal which paid for striker Robbie Keane's arrival a week later.

'I remember getting the phone call from my agent that a fee had been agreed with Leeds,' he told the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

'I didn't want to go, but I went to Gordon Strachan's office and he explained that they couldn't refuse that kind of money for me.

'I was enjoying playing week in week out, and although Leeds were a higher-placed side at the time I didn't want to go there and sit on the bench.

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'I was really disappointed when I left, but the club needed the money so that was it.'

Huckerby teamed up with another Canaries legend, Dion Dublin, at Coventry – the pairing hitting it off immediately, despite a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa.

'I started on the bench then went on against the local rivals,' he said; 'I had a good game and set up a goal for Dion Dublin.

'My partnership with Dion was the best of my career. I actually preferred being out on the wing.

'I didn't like the fact that you were under so much pressure to score up front and even if you'd had a good game it wasn't seen so because you hadn't hit the back of the net.

'I used to prefer to work out wide and cause some chaos. But up front with Dion was great.

'That season he scored 18 goals and me 14. We were the best strike partnership in the Premiership and for a team like Coventry that was a great achievement.'

'I appreciated scoring goals but didn't do the right thing all the time, but I wanted to.

'I was a young lad but I know it was sometimes frustrating for the fans and the manager. I just used to run for the sake of it.

'Looking back I've watched some videos of that era and most of the time I was on-side when it was ruled off. I think the linesman just used to panic because I was so quick – I was always three yards ahead.

'As I got older I learned the game, but when I was 19/20 I just loved scoring goals and having fun.

'The older lads at Coventry – Dion, Paul Telfer, Richard Shaw – really took me under their wing.

'We had a good team spirit and it really was a great place to be. It doesn't happen very often at clubs – I should know – and it was a great part of my career.'

Huckerby is now a fully paid-up Canaries fan – he has a matchday hospitality club named in his honour – and has started his own charitable foundation. He is completing his coaching badges so direct involvement in the game is never far away.

'Ideally I'd like to work with the youth side and make my way up,' he said.

'I'm not too sure if I want to go into management or not but I've got a lot on at the moment.

'I've set up a trust in the Norfolk area to give something back.

'It's doing really well and it's not set up for just one cause– we help kids one week, the old the next.

'I still know a few people from my time at Coventry and it's nice to see them having some success.

'My ideal would be for Nottingham Forest, Norwich and Coventry to all go up this season but it's difficult – you've got to be so consistent.'

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