Leon McKenzie relives that knockout derby debut

In one momentous week in December, 2003, McKenzie's world was turned upside down.

It began with Nigel Worthington announcing his arrival from Peterborough United – it ended with him being hailed a hero for life.

Making your debut against the old enemy is something to remember. Going to their place and bagging both goals in a 2-0 win – which famously put City on top of the old First Division for good – is more than anyone could have asked for.

McKenzie, now 32 and playing for League Two strugglers Northampton Town, remembers that week as if it was yesterday.

'It would have been just a few days after I signed,' he said.

'I think I came on the Monday and we played the following Sunday. It was all very exciting.

'I had come in from Peterborough and in all fairness I was in a nice bit of goal-scoring form, I was in a nice place at the time and I was pretty confident.

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'I knew what it was like to be playing in a higher division because I'd been at Palace for six years previously and for me it was a case of just wanting to get back up there.

'I'd been there before and I wanted to prove to people I could play in that league.

'When the chance came and Norwich came in I could have given Nigel Worthington a big kiss to be honest – although when I saw him I changed my mind!

'That week I trained really, really well and he called in on the Thursday and he said, 'right, Leon, you've been looking great in training blah blah, we're going to play you on Sunday, how do you feel' about it?'

'I was like, really? I thought I'd be on the bench, I couldn't believe it.

'I thought he was pulling my leg and he said, 'no, we're going to play you and Matty Svensson', who had just come in as well.

'Nigel always knew the answer when he asked the questions and he said, 'how are you feeling?'

'I was ready, but I didn't realise how big a derby it was to be honest.

'But I had prepared like I was going into a fight, to be honest.

'It was like my younger days of doing my boxing training and everything else.

'Mentally I was preparing to do 12 rounds.

'My head was properly focused, I was really up for it.

'Back then I had a good knee so I could drive everywhere and chase everything – that's what I did.'

That preparation came in handy, as McKenzie – born into the legendary south London boxing family – delivered two knockout blows, one in each half.

'The day itself was such a memorable one for me – it couldn't have gone any better.

'Everything just felt like we had the edge – and they had people like Darren Bent playing that day.

'The first goal came around 37 minutes I think – the ball just dropped down and fell right on to my left foot and I swivelled and put it in. I couldn't believe it.

'That was one of the best feelings you could have. I ran towards the bench, I was saying, 'yes I've arrived again'.

'It was lovely to pay back Nigel and everyone who had faith in me.

'From then on I was on a high. For the second goal I just remember Holty (Gary Holt) just going on some mad run with the ball.

'I thought, 'I'm the one who's does the running. Is he going to be able to do this?'

'But I found out he really could run. He ended up in an unusual position for him, cut the ball back and whipped it in.

'I think I am underestimated in the air, even today to be honest, and I remember the cross I thought, 'thanks for coming', and I just guided it into the net, and that was me. It was massive.'

McKenzie had to undergo a random drug test after the game, which denied him a second chance to salute the travelling City fans, but from then on, a new song was borne.

It includes a description of Ipswich perhaps unsuitable for a family newspaper, but reminds all who hear it that McKenzie scored against the Town, then scored another one.

'All the boys that day said I'd get the keys to the city,' he laughs.

'The drug test did spoil it a bit because I just couldn't go, but that song was amazing.'

McKenzie departed Carrow Road for Coventry, in August, 2006, but says recent events suggest his name lives on.

'I've been on Twitter only for a few days and it seems most of my followers are Norwich fans,' he said. 'I'm not the sort to give myself hero respect, but I enjoy it when people say good things.

'They remember my goal in the Premiership against Manchester United as well, so that is special.

'I'm really touched and flattered when I receive that sort of respect, to be honest.'

Fast forward to Sunday, and on-loan Arsenal youngster Henri Lansbury could make his City debut in a derby match.

'It was a bit different for me because I came in from a lower league club,' McKenzie said.

'He is at one of the best clubs in the world so it shouldn't be a problem.

'He can rise to this, he will love it. It's a massive occasion for him to put himself on a stage where he can come up trumps.

'Being at a club like Arsenal they school you properly and you go out on loan to get experience and games and hopefully you find that place where you come alive.

'I hope it comes alive for him on Sunday like I did.'