Korey Smith - Belief is key to success
Korey Smith has grown up a lot since making his debut in the bad old days that proved to be City's death throes the last time they were in the Championship.
A gutsy full debut on that dreadful final day at Charlton in May, 2009 when City slipped into League One left him close to tears, and until Paul Lambert arrived at Carrow Road, he hadn't been given the chance to put things right.
Lambert made him a regular fixture in his team last season – and Smith has repaid that faith in bucketfuls.
At 19, Korey Smith has come of age in football terms. As one of just a handful of home-grown products in the first team squad, he can be regarded as one of the boys, popular among the City rank and file for his determination to wear the colours with pride.
He was quite happy for fellow Academy product Chris Martin to take the plaudits for his superb winner at the weekend – for Smith, it was simply a job well done in the trenches, the rewards being a bottle of champagne from the sponsors and that seemingly ever-present smile.
Smith has plenty to look forward to and, as one of the 'locals', can spot the obvious point of interest at the top of the embryonic table, which sees City just a point behind third-placed Ipswich.
Smith knows what the derby means in these parts – and he's looking forward to renewing hostilities.
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'When I was 17 or 18 I was on the bench against Ipswich and it was a very good experience,' he said. 'I didn't come on, but when I was warming up all their fans were giving me abuse and stuff – I loved it, that's what football is all about so I'm really looking forward to it and for the fans as well.
'Hopefully we can win it because Norwich is a happier place when we're winning, it seems more buzzing. But it's early days and we can't get carried away. A lot of people said we would only be in the top 10, or trying to stay up, but we have got belief in ourselves.'
That belief was evident as City came back from a goal down to beat Barnsley and, true to form, Smith was happy enough to allow others to take the plaudits.
'They get the goals, they deserve it,' he laughed. 'But it is a bit like last year when Holty (Grant Holt) and Wes (Hoolahan) and Chrissy (Martin) got the main headlines because theirs are the names on the scoresheet. But we all know it's a team game and we all do really well and work hard together. We helped create the goals and stuff and they score them – I'm not complaining. As long as we are winning I get the rewards as well.'
Substitute Anthony McNamee forced the equaliser – his cross headed in by Barnsley defender Stephen Foster – having come on to play down the right, with Smith pushed inside.
'Obviously the gaffer knows how to adapt and bring on the right substitutions, as he has shown, and when the game starts to die down a bit he can bring on players like Macca and really give us a different dimension, and Macca came on and did excellent, like he normally does, and I'm really happy for him.'
Then it was all down to Martin for the winner, his goal something that Smith has been accustomed to seeing over the years.
'That's his trademark – come inside and whip it in the far corner,' Smith said. 'He does that on free-kicks and is one of the best finishers I have seen.'
It was, said, Smith, just reward for City's efforts.
'We were all over them in the first half,' he said. 'We deserved to win it in the first half, but unfortunately went a goal behind, but once again we showed the determination and courage to come back.
'You could see they were trying to sit behind the ball, but obviously the gaffer spurred us on at half-time and the team just is very determined and we work very hard behind the scenes and we got the three points.
'I'm just very, very happy.'