Jed Steer goes from Reepham schoolboy to Norwich City FA Cup hero

Watching young goalkeeper Jed Steer help secure Norwich City's FA Cup fourth round victory this weekend, one man at Reepham High School felt a particular sense of pride.

Tim Gibbs, PE teacher and head of year at the school, knew Jed Steer was something special when he first arrived at the school aged 11.

'From the word go he was a top class lad,' said Mr Gibbs. 'He was charming and level-headed, with good friends and a good family and the thing that stood out about him was he treated football like a job.'

The 19-year-old goalkeeper, who has held a season ticket at Carrow Road since he was five, stole the show in Norwich's 2-1 win at West Brom on Saturday thanks to his shot-stopping, which manager Paul Lambert described as 'world class'.

But Mr Gibbs never played the young prodigy in goal, putting Jed at centre back with Tom Knight who went on to play rugby union for England U16s. Mr Gibbs said the defensive pairing used to 'chew up and spit out' the opposition attack.

'He was a big strong lad. Even at centre back he would dominate the game,' he said.

Jed, from North Elmham near Dereham, was so good at the back that Mr Gibbs thought he would be wasted in goal for the school side and he was moved into the year above's football team which went on to win the Norfolk Cup.

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And by the time he reached Year 10 Jed was regularly playing with Norwich's academy.

'I have seen dozens of boys who have got to that stage and think they have made it,' said Mr Gibbs. 'But he worked hard and never had the attitude of these lessons don't matter because I'm going to be a professional footballer.

'When he played for England U16s we all thought he had made it but he was just trying to get on the ladder.

'He is so focused and was never complacent or arrogant.'

Jed was also a talented all-rounder on the cricket pitch, keeping wicket and was known for being an aggressive batsman. And it would seem the talent runs in the family as his father, Jeremy, played for England Schools U18s while on the books at Norwich in 1981. The former Diss High School pupil was also a regular in the Norfolk County Schools FA team.

But it was football where young Jed really excelled and he was snapped up by the academy when he was spotted playing in goal for Drayton under-9s.

Rustling through his Sunday papers, Reepham High's principal, Mark Farrar, was not surprised to be greeted with headlines about his former pupil's career-boosting performance.

'He is the most delightful young man,' said Mr Farrar, 'Not only is Jed extremely talented, he is very hard working. He gets on well with everyone. He is modest and positive with a good sense of humour.

'He's a fantastic role model for young people. He easily could have gone on to do A-Levels but obviously had other priorities. He always took advice. There was no arrogance there whatsoever and he was always determined to try and improve.'

And James Hale, who played in the same football and cricket teams as the England U16 international at school, said his teammate was a great competitor. 'He never gave the impression he was better than anyone else,' said James. 'Quite a few of the lads never knew he played for Norwich. He kept it to himself. But when the team was not doing as well as it could he was not afraid to speak up.' That quiet confidence paid off. When he turned 17 he was offered a professional contract and prior to Saturday's debut had impressed earlier in the season during a loan spell at Yeovil Town.

Norwich City has a fine tradition of producing top-class goalkeepers. And after his performance on Saturday the young keeper is being tipped for great things; and his determination to reach the top shone through in his post-match interview. 'It is brilliant he (Lambert) has confidence in me but I know I've got to keep working hard. That was just the first step on the ladder.'

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