Jed Steer beaming at ‘dream’ Norwich City debut
Jed Steer was not given a night's sleep to think about his Norwich City debut – but if he had, it is hard to imagine he would have dreamt it going any better than events actually unfolded at The Hawthorns.
The Canaries' 19-year-old academy product and England Under-19 international was told on Saturday morning he was going to make his senior debut for the club he has supported since the age of five.
And the former Reepham High School pupil did not disappoint – pulling off several saves of notable quality, commanding his area with an assured nature that belied his tender age and ultimately helping City through to the last 16 of the FA Cup as John Ruddy took the afternoon off.
Steer has long been tipped for big things at Carrow Road – and the youngster was beaming at being given his first major chance to prove what he can do.
'I've waited a long time for it and I'm absolutely delighted,' said Steer. 'There was a lot of excitement and a lot of nerves, but overall more excitement to get that debut.
'It was fantastic. I've dreamt of it for years when I was younger and coming through academy and things. It has always been my main goal and thankfully the gaffer put me in.
'It is brilliant he has confidence in me but I know I've got to keep working hard. That was just the first step on the ladder. I've got to keep developing. There is a long way to go yet and hopefully I keep improving and keep playing.'
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There were a handful of good stops over the 90 minutes from Steer, including smartly getting down to the feet of Joe Mattock. But his first-half save to deflect Jerome Thomas' drive from point blank range on to the face of his crossbar was something special.
With Ruddy's usual deputy Declan Rudd out for a couple of months after ankle surgery, Paul Lambert bringing in a replacement during January would have been understandable. Steer, who spent the early part of this season on loan at League One Yeovil, hopes his efforts on Saturday proved he can also do a job in Rudd's absence.
'The two saves happened so quick that you just fling a leg out or and arm out and hopefully you get something on it and thankfully I did,' added Steer, reportedly a target for Chelsea during his academy development at Colney.
'The one from Thomas I didn't know a lot about. I just got there, recovered, hung an arm out and I think it's hit my head in the end.
'As goalkeepers you've got to keep it out of the net and I didn't do that to be fair, I conceded one. Obviously I was disappointed not to keep that clean sheet.
'But I think I did all right today, so hopefully they trust me and would give me another game. John has been fantastic all season and I've learnt so much from him. If something was to happen then hopefully yes, I will be able to stand in.
'(Bringing someone in) is still a big option as well, but hopefully I've done enough to show him that I'm up for it.'
While Ruddy took a break from playing duties, he did ensure his role on the substitutes' bench included waiting to have a few words with Steer at half-time and after the final whistle.
It is all any goalkeeper could ask for from their first team mentor – as well as the efforts of the Canaries goalkeeping coach Jeff Wood, who has settled into a role that has seen a significant turnover of applicants over recent years.
'John has been fantastic; he is the nicest guy you will meet and in training he is always talking to you, always helping you along and giving you advice, and just watching him train and play as well, you learn so much off him.
'Jeff has been brilliant. As a coach he has been fantastic and helped John, Dec and me – and the young Remy Matthews as well.'
It has been said before, many times: Norfolk produces good goalkeepers…
'Hopefully it continues – Norfolk people are nutters so it must be down to that!' Steer joked.
'The fans were brilliant all day; they didn't shut up,' he added, having been a Norwich season ticket holder since he started school – and been treated to his own chants from the Yellow Army on Saturday.
'I didn't think that was ever going to happen to be honest with you; it was lovely. I've always grown up a Norwich fan, really got into the club and it's just fantastic.
'And the spell at Yeovil was brilliant, getting those appearances in there and a bit more experience and that's helped me come here and us get the victory as well.
'Being part of the first team there showed me how much you want to be in football. Football is so great and to come back to Norwich with that bit more experience… because of that I think the gaffer has chucked me in and given me my chance.
'Yeovil was brilliant and I can't thank them enough for trusting me to be their number one for 12 games.'