Whitbread relishes Norwich City’s date with Liverpool

Norwich's cultured defender Zak Whitbread was delighted to finally play a full part in City's promotion success story.

The American international revealed last night's civic party in front of an estimated 40,000 supporters felt extra-special after his injury-hit contribution to the club's League One title win 12 months earlier. Whitbread made just four senior appearances following his mid-season Millwall move in January 2010 as Paul Lambert's men bounced back to the Championship at the first attempt.

The 27-year-old former Liverpool trainee was determined to savour the latest celebrations after forging a key defensive partnership with Elliott Ward in the club's march to the Premier League this term.

'It's an amazing event to be a part of and one I thought I'd make the most of,' he said. 'I thought last year's promotion celebrations would be one of the biggest things in your career, even though I hadn't really been involved in too many games, but to see all these fans again is something you have to enjoy as a footballer.

'I always say it, but these type of nights don't come around too often. I was also lucky enough to be involved to an extent with Liverpool when they won the European Cup in Istanbul, on a non-playing side really, and that was unbelievable. I always remember saying that I want to be involved in occasions like this for myself - so I can feel a bit more of a part of it. I've been lucky enough to be part of a few, but you never get tired of these type of nights.'

Whitbread believes it could take until the summer for Lambert's squad to realise the magnitude of their latest achievement after a heady few days since clinching promotion at Portsmouth.

'I still haven't had a proper quiet moment to stand back and reflect,' he said. 'Since the Portsmouth game I've either being enjoying it or sleeping or working off the after effects. I'm sure at some point over the summer then it might be an achievement we can really reflect on and realise just what has happened.

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'I think right now the lads are enjoying it for what it is. They are still up there, and they deserve to be, so, no, the answer to the question is it hasn't sunk in.'

Reality will dawn when the Premier League fixtures are published and Whitbread scans the list for one particular date in his footballing diary.

'The first fixture I'll look for is probably Liverpool, away,' he said. 'It'll be nice to go back to Anfield and see a few old mates and a few familiar faces and you never know hopefully get a result. We are under no illusions what lies ahead.

'We can enjoy this for a few more days and then the hard work starts again. We can't rest on our laurels. We know getting there is only the start. The hard part is staying there but I'm sure the manager and his staff will have us ready to go when pre-season comes around again.'