Two years after he was first scheduled to arrive in Norfolk, Rochdale keeper Matt Gilks was this morning officially unveiled as Norwich's City's second transfer arrival of the summer.
The 25-year-old – available on a free transfer after seeing out his two-year deal with the League Two club ? has signed a two-year deal and was originally one of Nigel Worthington's top targets in the summer of 2005 as everyone, Robert Green included, expected City's England international keeper to stay in the Premiership and not join the Canaries back in the fun and games of the Championship.
In the event, however, top flight buyers proved few and far between for Green and once Gilks decided to continue his goalkeeping education at Spotland and signed another two-year deal with The Dale, so his move to Norfolk was shelved.
Come this summer, however, and Norwich's goalkeeping department had a bright new addition – one that, inevitably, casts a further question mark over Paul Gallacher's long-term future at the club if City boss Peter Grant continues his long-standing interest in Celtic's David Marshall.
The early indications were that Gilks was not instead of Marshall, more healthy competition for the 22-year-old Bhoys keeper.
Back in the North-West, Dale boss Keith Hill had long resigned himself to Gilks' exit. There appeared to be little or no hard feelings as Hill recognised that the one-time Rochdale youth product had come to the stage in his career when he needed to spread his wings.
“I'd love to keep Gilksy, but we have to be realistic and say he's probably worthy of playing at a higher level,” Hill told the Rochdale Observer recently. “Whether or not he's going to get that opportunity I don't know.
“We'll do everything we can to try to retain his services, but if we don't we'll move on. We won't dwell on what might be, we'll do our best to keep him but if we don't, there's other goalkeepers out there.”
It was, however, Hill's predecessor Steve Parkin who had the harder fight on his hands – persuading the 6ft 1in keeper to sign a new deal in 2005 with both Norwich and near-neighbours Bolton Wanderers reported to be monitoring developments.
“Matt Gilks is developing into an outstanding keeper, though he's not there yet and I hope he continues his development with us,” said Parkin, speaking back in the summer of 2005.
“It's his decision if he wants to stay with us now, but whoever decides to get involved in transfer talks with him will have to pay a bob or too.”
Then aged under 24 years of age, any interested party would have had to have paid a tribunal-set compensation figure to The Spotland club; two years on and the Canaries can happily grab one of the lower league's brightest goalkeeping prospects on a free – just as they have done with one-time Liverpool youth full-back Jon Otsemobor.
Much more to follow…
Leave a Reply