Iwan Roberts: Pitch perfect Canaries are real mudlarks!

Teemu Pukki Norwich City v Birmingham

Teemu Pukki misses an opportunity from12 yards at Birmingham City in midweek - but the Norwich striker still bagged a brace in a 3-1 win - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I have to admit even though I did pretty well when I played at St Andrews - grabbing myself a few goals when I went there with Huddersfield and especially with Leicester - it was never a pleasure playing there.

There’s something about the place I just didn’t like; the old changing rooms weren’t the best and nothing compared to what’s there now. Their fans were always very vocal towards me and the playing surface was always shocking, unless you managed to go there in the first few weeks of the season. And by the looks of what I’ve seen in the last six days, not a lot's changed! 

The lads have done brilliantly to go up there twice in less than a week and win both games without really hitting top form, especially on Tuesday night as after playing Coventry there last Wednesday night they knew exactly what to expect when they walked out of the tunnel onto that quagmire of a pitch! 

I bet the players weren’t really looking forward to another trip up to the Midlands again and playing on that surface, but to their credit there was no moaning and groaning - they simply rolled up their sleeves and got on with the task in hand: winning the game.  

Having not scored a goal from open play for over two months Teemu Pukki now can’t stop finding the back of the net with six in his last four Championship games after scoring his fifth brace of the campaign against Birmingham. But it could, and maybe should, have been seven, had he not missed that penalty on Tuesday

I don’t know why but I’m never sure when Teemu steps up to take a penalty. I’m not convinced he’s as confident as he should be when he takes them. He reminds me of myself - i was never convinced with my penalty-taking ability and that's why I only took a handful, and missed a fair few. 

I honestly wasn’t sure what i was going to do until I was running up to take one - I never pre-planned where I was going to put the ball or whether I was going for placement, which, 90pc of the time I did, or whether I was going for a Julian Dicks or Ray Stewart (West Ham supporters will know who I’m talking about) type penalty and try to break the back of the net with power. 

NCFC V SHEFFIELD WED< IWAN ROBERTS CELEBRATES HIS PENALTY GOAL.PHOTO SIMON FINLAY een 11/11/20

If you're going to score a penalty, celebrate in style... Iwan Roberts after converting one of his two successful penalties against Sheffield Wednesday in November, 2002 - Credit: Archant

I had no problem if someone wanted to take the penalty before me, unless I was in a bit of a goal drought and was desperate for a goal to get myself going on the goal trail again - then you’d have to fight me for that ball! 

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I remember playing at Pride Park late December, 2003, and we were awarded a penalty in the 88th minute. We were winning the game 3-1 and I thought, 'right, this is mine', until Leon McKenzie got to the ball first and placed it on the spot. Leon duly scored and I celebrated with the rest of the lads - but deep down I was fuming. 

Granted, I was on a good goal bonus at the time, but that wasn’t the reason i was angry that Leon had taken it upon himself to take the penalty - I’d quite gladly forfeited my goal bonus, i was angry as he’d taken the opportunity from me to score goal number 93 for the club, taking me closer to that magical 100 goals mark, something only two players before me had ever achieved and believe you me something I was desperate to do.

It’s still something that hurts me today - that I never reached that milestone for Norwich City. But had i taken that penalty at Pride Park and scored I still would have been three short of 100, so Leon is well and truly forgiven. Can you imagine if I'd been stuck on 99 though! 


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