Long-time City favourite Darren Eadie today dropped a big gauntlet at the free-scoring feet of pal Jamie Cureton – insisting that a place in the club's Hall of Fame awaits Norwich's prodigal son.
“I've given him an aim of getting himself in the Hall of Fame within two years,” said Eadie, as his one-time Youth team side-kick begins to settle back into life in Norfolk – 11 long years after he left it.
“He has got the chance of being a legend – and he's half way there, almost. The fans have always respected him since he left. Whenever he's scored goals against Norwich he's never celebrated; he never hid the fact that he enjoyed his times at Norwich and really loved the club.
“And I think he's already got the fans on his side; he's raring to go and, hopefully, get a great start to the season.”
Certainly should Cureton bag the opener in front of the Barclay in City's opening home game of the season against Barnet, then the supporters will swiftly salute a new hero – albeit one with an imp-ish grin rather than Robert Earnshaw's acrobatics.
Getting his three-year deal back in his adopted home city is, says Eadie, all Cureton deserves after a long and, at times, difficult career scratching away in the lower leagues.
“I think this is what he deserves. We all know that Jamie has had his ups and downs over his career. He ended up going to South Korea or something like that and struggled out there.
“But, to be fair, it showed the character of him to come back from out there, get a Championship club and do so well as he has done. He's finally got his head screwed on – as he'd admit himself. And now he's definitely got what he deserves.”
Nor is the Anglia TV pundit in any doubt that the goals will flow. Whether he hits Earnie's heights will, as ever, depend on two factors – the level of service he receives and the level of fitness he maintains over the course of a gruelling Championship season.
The early signs are that the latter, in particular, looks pretty sorted; as for the former, this week's arrival of 6ft 3in David Strihavka could make a huge difference.
“I spoke to him yesterday and he said that he's the fittest he's ever been; he's the lightest he's ever been, so hopefully it'll be a good season for him,” said Eadie, as the Canary squad pound their way around the perimeter of Colney.
“He said he's kind of exorcised a few demons – the last time he ran round Colney he wasn't in the best shape of his career as he would admit himself.
“But he felt really good yesterday – managed to complete the whole thing and feel pretty good so he was well chuffed.”
As for the goals, Cureton has always been a natural in that regard. On that front, Eadie has few fears.
“Jamie's always scored goals – wherever he's gone. Even if he's not been at his fittest,” said Eadie.
“But Jamie will rely on a bit of service which is obviously down to Crofty and Hucks and other people around him. But Jamie will always score goals – he's always scored goals wherever he's been. And he will create them himself.
“But if you want him to score 20, 25 in a season then he's going to need people round him. He'll still get 10 or 15 – I'm sure of it – without trying that hard.”
Eadie has also been trying to persuade him to “recreate a bit of history” when the first Anglian derby of the season arrives.
“It'll be funny when I see him with his green hair again when we play Ipswich – I've already wound him up about it; trying to get him to do it again; to re-create a bit of history!
“But, no, it's fantastic. I've kind of almost pushed the deal along myself – I've always said he's a great player and if he was available this season, then why shouldn't Norwich come and get him? He'll score goals.”
As Cureton did by the bucketload on the old playing fields of Trowse where he, Eadie, and the likes of Andy Marshall, Andy Johnson and Ade Akinbiyi used to have an absolute ball.
“It was fantastic – we won plenty of games and Jamie was the top goal-scorer for the two seasons. I think he still holds the record for the Youth team and the number of goals scored in two seasons – I think it's something like 65.
“So, yes, it was great times. We had a great team and I think out of that 11, six or seven then turned professional which is an extraordinary amount – you don't often see that.
“Ade's played in the the top league, I've played in the top league, Andy Johnson's played in the top league, Andy Marshall, Jamie…
“So it was a great achievement by the lads and a really, really good time for Norwich City.”
For Eadie there is a certain poignancy to Cureton's return. By rights the one-time City winger should still be carving out a professional career for himself only for endless operations on a stricken knee to curtail his playing days after that big-money switch to Leicester City.
“Do I get wistful? Yes – terribly. When he rang me the other day to say he was coming up to sign and I spoke to him then… I miss it. I even miss the pre-season which I never thought I'd say.
“I miss feeeling sick running up hills; I miss aching; I miss being tired. You miss the whole thing about it when you finish.
“But being 32 now, it's starting to dwindle a little bit. Maybe when I get to 35 it won't bother me so much, but certainly at the minute I miss it more than anything.”
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