John Ruddy can now keep Help for Heroes pledge after Chelsea shut-out
The 'clean sheet question' was a frustrating one for Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy – and not only for the obvious Premier League reason…
It has taken 22 games for the 25-year-old to fulfil a pre-season pledge and donate his first �200 clean sheet bonus to Help for Heroes; a cause close to the Canaries stopper's heart.
Ruddy admits a career in the army would have been on the cards if it was not for a football scout in St Ives, while his best man this summer will be good friend Corporal Phil Wright – soon set for another tour in Afghanistan.
No doubt it all made City's hard-earned efforts at keeping Chelsea's Juan Mata, Fernando Torres and company out for 90 minutes that much more satisfying. But in terms of the goalkeeper's day job, it was all about the point taken from the visit of Andr� Villas-Boas' millionaires.
It means Paul Lambert is still to be doubled by a team as Norwich boss, and just like City's Premier League win at West Bromwich Albion last week the game plan devised by him and assistant Ian Culverhouse did the job.
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Ruddy said: 'Right from front to back we worked our socks off – we came into the game with a game plan much as we did last week, to be patient when they had the ball because they are good in possession. We worked the game plan well and we gained a valuable point.
'That was exactly how we wanted to play them and we spent a lot of time on that during the week. The gaffer and Cully do a great job working out how we're going to deal with a team and it is great for all of us when that comes off, and we did that today.
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'It has been a bit frustrating hearing people talk about the lack of a clean sheet and that's all they've been going on about, but we've said throughout the season as long as we're picking points up it doesn't matter how we are getting them.
'This is another valuable point and it just so happens we kept a clean sheet with it. If we'd have drawn 1-1 it's sill a valuable point. It doesn't matter how we pick them up. We've picked 29 points up this year with one clean sheet and you can't argue with that – it's a good record.'
A commanding performance from the City stopper was highlighted by a smart near-post stop from Mata – and an even better effort at full stretch to turn Torres' flick around his far upright.
'I think the Torres save sticks out,' acknowledged Ruddy. 'He's a quality player and he took it early; that's what he can do, and I was just glad to tip it around the post.
'You know Chelsea are going to create chances but I don't think they ever had an unbelievable chance, so to say. They were few and far between in that sense, but we're delighted with the point and a clean sheet as well.'
In truth City's previous clean sheet failures have done nothing to hinder their Premier League progress this season, and the arrival of Zak Whitbread and Dani Ayala five games ago as a centre-back pairing is clearly bearing fruit.
'Dani and Zak were outstanding today, but that's not to forget Russell (Martin) and then Kyle (Naughton), who is a right-back playing out on the left and doing a brilliant job,' added Ruddy.
'Dani and Zak have created a good understanding with each other but that's not to rule out the other centre-halves at the club, because they have done equally as good this season.
'We have obviously still got Wardy to come back which will be a big bonus, so we have got strength in depth in every department and if anyone does pick up an injury – hopefully it doesn't happen – we've got cover to come in and do just as well.'
Ruddy added: 'It's not a scalp so to speak, but we knew with the quality Chelsea have got how tough it was going to be. But every person on that pitch worked their socks off for the team and the cause, and we got a great point.'