Connor Southwell: Is Todd Cantwell Norfolk's best ever player?

Todd Cantwell of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich
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Former Norwich youth coach Keith Webb believes Todd Cantwell is the most talented football Norfolk has produced in 50 years. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

There is nothing more pleasing for Norwich City supporters than seeing 'one of your own' break through the academy and realise their dream of becoming a professional footballer. 

Equally, there does come an additional pressure from those in the stands who are desperate to see Norfolk-born players succeed and thrive during their spell with the Canaries. That can raise expectations and make the demands on those who emerge from the academy and into the first-team considerably tougher. 

The Murphy brothers, although originally from London, have spoken about the difficulties they encountered during their time at Carrow Road. Simply put, you need more than talent to thrive at your hometown club. Mentality is just as important. 

There is a perception around Norfolk footballers. Some feel they are too soft and lack the required mentality and physicality to succeed on the big stages. 

Todd Cantwell's rise at the club has been a great advert for Norfolk football. 

City's creative midfielder is playing a pivotal part in attempting to help the club reach the Premier League once more after bursting onto the scene in the top flight last season. By his own admission, the wave of publicity, criticism and speculation was something the Dereham-born attacker wasn't prepared for.

Dale 'Disco' Gordon was always a firm fans' favourite at Carrow Road. Picture: Archant

Dale 'Disco' Gordon was always a firm fans' favourite at Carrow Road - Credit: Archant

But under Daniel Farke's stewardship, the midfielder is thriving. 

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Keith Webb, a man who understands what it takes to develop young talent at Norwich and in Norfolk, took to his Twitter account to describe the 22-year-old as 'most talented player Norfolk has produced in 50 years.' 

Webb was involved in developing several young talents through Norwich's academy. From Craig Bellamy, Chris Sutton, Ruel Fox among numerous others, but the crux of this argument surrounds their Norfolk origin rather than academy progression. 

Cantwell's form in recent weeks has been impressive. His technical proficiency is utilised in a productive manner by a youth-enabling coach who encourages his players to be expressive. 

That said, Cantwell has steep competition to be considered Norfolk's finest. 

Chris Sutton 28/08/1993

Chris Sutton, pictured in 1993, has a claim to be Norfolk's finest. - Credit: Archant

In terms of achievements, Sutton and Danny Mills both played for their countries and spent significant portions of their careers in the Premier League. In the case of the former, that involved titles for Blackburn and Celtic.

Sutton was born in Nottingham but spent a large portion of his adolescent years in the county. Turn on national radio every Saturday and it is a Norfolk accent discussing football with callers rather than one associated with the River Trent. 

Mills' association with Norwich is more troublesome. Despite his radio silence surrounding his roots these days, his success as a footballer is undeniable. Cantwell's skill set is profoundly different, but in terms of success and pedigree, both the former Leeds full-back and Sutton have compelling claims to be considered Norfolk's finest ever footballer. 

Head back through the years and you stumble upon others with credible arguments. 

Wing wizard Dale Gordon was a member of City's success as they reached an FA Cup semi-final and recorded two top-five finishes in the top flight. The Caister-born winger went on to make over 200 appearances for the club before joining Rangers in 1991.

Perhaps few have stronger arguments than 'Mr Norwich City' Dave Stringer, who devoted a tremendous portion of his life to the Canaries as both a player and a manager, but is service to the club a consideration or are we talking about Norfolk's most talented product?

Danny Mills NCFC 1996/7 season ECN

Can Danny Mills be consider Norfolk's finest ever footballer? - Credit: Archant

That in the nutshell is the debate. There is a degree of subjectivity and personal factors to be included. 

It's always easy to adopt recency bias when comparing a current player against several others with a full career to consult. 

Cantwell has made enormous strides in the last 18 months, his talent is unquestionable and supporters will hope his career continues to grow with the club. Sure, he may not have the honours of others to strengthen his case, but in terms of raw ability, he is certainly up there. 

He has the potential to become Norfolk's finest, but there is a whole lot of time in front of him to fulfil those expectations. There is little doubt that the debate will shift dramatically by the time he is on the cusp of retirement. 

- Who do you think is the best player to come out of Norfolk? Vote via the poll above

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