New City skipper Mark Fotheringham revealed he was “a very proud young man” last night as he led the Canaries out in front of a Carrow Road full-house.
Whether he will be doing the same again on Saturday as Jason Shackell returns to Glenn Roeder's starting plans in place of the suspended Gary Doherty is something that the new City manager “will sleep on” over the next couple of days.
In the meantime, however, 24-year-old Fotheringham was trying to get his head round a season that's gone from zero-to-hero after the one-time Celtic starlet sustained that ankle ligament injury in August – a cruelly-timed blow that was expected to sideline him until Christmas.
Now he's back, centre-stage and leading City's Championship survival fight from the very front.
“It was quite unexpected,” said Fotheringham, after last night's 2-1 win over Plymouth hauled Norwich off the bottom of the table.
“The manager just came in today and said that with Shacks (Shackell) not playing that I was going to lead the team out and it was a great honour.
“I was a proud young man out there, to be honest with you,” added Fotheringham, one of life's characters that wears his heart firmly on his sleeve.
“I cannot really put it into words how good the feeling is to lead the team out.”
Roeder said afterwards that it was his passion, determination and overwhelming desire to win that persuaded him to hand Fotheringham the armband.
Roll the clock back 12 months and if you had told the ball-playing midfielder – fresh from being released by Aarau the bottom club in the Swiss First Division – that he would be skippering Norwich City in front of 25,000 people a year later, he would have probably laughed in your face.
A he would have done in the third week in August when a long spell on the sidelines seemingly awaited him following that ankle injury.
It wasn't only Ched Evans who had a dream time last night after the on-loan 18-year-old marked his first-ever Championship start with a goal after just two minutes – Fotheringham wasn't that far behind…
“I wasn't expecting it,” said Fotheringham. “I've had a few chats with the gaffer and I know what's expected of me – he's told me that I've got to be a leader out there.
“And he's come in today and said that he's expecting big things of me as a leader on the pitch.
“First and foremost, I'm just happy to be back from the injury. But to get that today was a really big moment for me and, as I say, I'm so proud to lead the boys out.”
It had, it seems, be a tough time sat in the stands. For a player that is again out of contract this summer, that was brought in by the now-departed managerial duo or Peter Grant and Jim Duffy, that could only watch as his latest employers slumped to the bottom of the league table – it must have been pretty soul-destroying.
New manager, new ideas, new players… It is easy to see how Fotheringham's mind might have worked. Particularly once the likes of Ian Murray, Simon Lappin and Julien Brellier found themselves stood out in the cold under Roeder.
“I felt sorry for the old gaffer as well because he's brought me in and I know Jim Duffy well. But I'm so excited to be playing under Glenn Roeder.
“He's such a big name in the game and he's worked with some quality players in the game – like Lampard, Carrick, Joe Cole. Those are the guys that I look up to. So it's just great to be working with him and Clarky (Lee Clark) and Stevo (Paul Stephenson).”
Fotheringham was the first to admit that Norwich hadn't been at their fluent best; that for periods in the second-half the contest was typically bitty and scratchy. But, in the end, it was the result that mattered most; that on occasion City will have to 'win ugly' if they are to keep their Championship status intact.
“We started really well – it was a great finish. But we let them back into the game. And being perfectly honest, we didn't play particularly well.
“But at this moment in time, we've got to keep grinding. And we've shown the right mentality – that we're strong. We're strong with eachother; we all respect eachother out there and we're working hard for eachother.
“And I think the fans can see that,” said Fotheringham, with Roeder himself describing the fact that Norwich can sell-out a midweek home game whilst bottom of the table as 'phenomenal'.
They, more than anyone, helped drive Norwich on across the finishing line – a process helped by Darren Huckerby's 87th minute penalty.
“At times it's not coming off – and at the end of the day we've got to entertain the crowd as well. But first and foremost, we need to start getting results. And that's what we've done tonight.”
Even if it wasn't always pretty. In fairness to Fotheringham, he can roll his sleeves up and battle. Evans, for an 18-year-old, certainly didn't shirk a challenge, while Matty Pattison looks a decent 'ratter' – getting in there and snapping at people's heels.
His big moment will come on Saturday when you presume he will step into centre midfield and replace the suspended Darel Russell.
“I would describe it as an ugly win,” said Fotheringham. “But, as I say, a win's a win.
“And we need wins. We know that Glenn Roeder won't accept below par performances; we know it's important to give a performance as well as get a result.
“So we're going to have to work on a few things going into the Sheffield game, but at least we've got a base now to keep working from.”