“Some guy had a pop at me in a coffee shop in Norwich. He said: ‘You want to leave, you’ve even moved your wife and kids home, how can you if you live here?’ I said: ‘Are you mad?” Norwich City striker Grant Holt speaks out
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Grant Holt has revealed his irritation at being overlooked by England last summer.
The Norwich striker emerged as a dark horse for a call-up to the national team ahead of Euro 2012 after netting 15 league goals in the Canaries' first season back in the top flight, but was ultimately overlooked by England boss Roy Hodgson.
Holt claims the snub was down to Norwich not being viewed as 'fashionable', and believes Southampton's Rickie Lambert is the victim of similar prejudice this season.
The 31-year-old Holt concedes his form this season is not worthy of and England call-up - he has just five goals in all competitions - but nevertheless frustration remains.
'It bugs me,' Holt told the Daily Telegraph. 'I should have been there in the summer; if not the Euros, I should definitely have had the chance in the two friendlies before.
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'It bugs me when a squad is called and I don't hear Rickie Lambert's name mentioned once, not one breath, and he's on form, scoring, similar to what I did last year.
'Is it the 'fashionable club' thing? Are we so stuck in our ways that you have to be at Manchester United, Arsenal or Tottenham?
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'If I'd been at Arsenal as a kid, and done what I'd done last year for Arsenal, would I have got in the squad? Yes. So what difference does it make if I'm doing it for a so-called 'lesser team' Norwich, banging 18 goals in?
'Why am I not getting a sniff? There was no contact.
'This year, there's no way in the world I'm going to get called up. My goal tally is not good enough, but that was disappointing last year. I was scoring against the top teams, United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and I don't get the nod. It just disheartens me.
'When I then watched the Euros and saw England go out with a whimper, it made it tougher to take. If they'd gone to the semi-finals, it would have been easier to say I should never have been near it.
'I watched that and thought, would I have made that difference?'
The striker spoke about his family life and having to relocate his wife and daughters back to his and his wife's native Carlisle.
'There are two Grant Holts. There's Grant Holt, the footballer for Norwich City and Grant Holt the dad. The dad comes first and always will. I do what's right for the girls. My wife's been away from Carlisle a lot. When I went to Singapore to play for four months, she came with me. I was 19 and she was 17. We had a fantastic time, went to Kuala Lumpur and little islands, ate a lot of rice.
'But she's been away a lot. Rochdale, Nottingham, Norwich. She's very family-orientated. I'm very close to my family. I got my new deal, bought a house in Norwich and within four weeks of signing my new deal the house we'd been waiting for three years in Carlisle came up. In Carlisle, all the relatives are round the corner. There's a fantastic school a 10-minute walk away from the house.
'They are happy, which makes me happy. It's nice to speak to her on the phone. She says: 'I can't speak, I'm busy.' Now I know they're settled, I can do whatever I want. Just because they are there doesn't affect my performance at Norwich. If anything it should enhance it. I get more sleep, more time with the physios, masseurs. I get up later in the morning while she [his wife] is having a nightmare up the road! Everyone should do it!
'It always make me laugh when I hear people say: 'He's signed his deal, he's not bothered and he's moved his wife home.' It's a load of rubbish. Some guy had a pop at me in a coffee shop in Norwich. He said: 'You want to leave, you've even moved your wife and kids home, how can you if you live here?' I said: 'Are you mad? You've not got a clue what's going on.'
'Years ago, any conversation in a coffee shop would be between those sitting there. Now any conversation becomes Chinese whispers on Twitter. That's the trouble now: everyone has an opinion. Twitter can be fantastic. There was a story that me and Chris Hughton had a massive bust-up about formations and that I was leaving in the summer. In an instant, I could say 'that's wrong'.''
Holt also spoke about manager Chris Hughton.
He said: 'It's always hard when you've worked with someone and been so successful for the last three years. Obviously Chris is a different personality but he's still doing a fantastic job. This year is a completely different mindset that our manager has to the previous manager – more defensive.
'He likes to work off a format and who are we to disagree when we are still in a similar [mid-table] position to last year? Ideally, I'd love to play with a two up front, winning 4-3, and I'm getting three. You've got to do what he wants you to do, do a job for the team.
'We have a fantastic group of people at Norwich. The kit-man does the music in the dressing-room, R'n'B, dance. It's too loud for me. I sit in the corner and get away from it! It's a very welcoming dressing room. We've taken Kei Kamara under our wing, taken him to dinner, shown him a flat. He's a good character.
'He just lifts you up in the morning with the smile on his face. If he can come in laughing and joking with the life he's had [as a former refugee], why should I be moaning'?'