Roll the clock back 12 months and from a distance, it might have appeared that Mark Fotheringham's footballing career was on the road to nowhere.
Or at best, was firmly at a crossroads as the one-time Celtic starlet found himself without a club having parted company with the Swiss side Aarau.
Fotheringham, however, was confident that all would be well with the world; self-doubt has never been part of the new City skipper's make up. He had the belief and the confidence that football would still find him a living. A year later and the 24-year-old's faith has duly delivered a starring role in Glenn Roeder's Carrow Road revolution.
“I was away playing football abroad and a lot of people in the UK never really knew a lot about us,” said Fotheringham, due to lead the Canaries out in front of the Sky cameras at Layer Road tomorrow as his natural passion and enthusiasm for the game proves infectious.
“It was the same at Freiburg in Germany – I had a good rapport with the supporters, the players and the management team out there as well. But I just felt it was time to come back home and start afresh again,” said Fotheringham at Colney this morning.
The fact that Celtic legend Peter Grant had just landed his first managerial role and knew all about the one-time Parkhead wonder-kid who had made his debut at the tender age of 16 for the Glasgow giants proved exactly what Fotheringham needed.
And while the likes of Julien Brellier, Simon Lappin, Ian Murray and David Strihavka have all struggled to survive the change or managerial regime at Colney, Roeder's arrival has only kicked Fotheringham's City career onto new heights with the addition of the captain's armband for the rest of the season.
“I think it was a good decision,” said the new City skipper, as he looked back on that switch from Switzerland.
“I knew that the Championship was going to be a hard league and I think probably when I first came back I was still in the mentality that I was playing on the continent,” he admitted, where – to borrow from Dad's Army – they don't exactly like it up 'em. In such far-flung corners of the Championship as Home Park and the Britannia Ground, that's all you get. All the time.
High time for Fotheringham to re-invent himself – cue long summer sessions in the gym bulking himself up for the physical challenges ahead.
“I knew I had to change that mentality pretty quick, so I worked really hard in the summer to develop more upper body strength and stuff like that. And I do feel a lot stronger this season.”
Add that to the technical lessons learnt on the continent and Fotheringham's emergence as a genuine midfield contender starts to make more sense.
“I spoke to Glenn about it too, but on the continent they spend a lot of time on your discipline and your shape, your positional play and stuff like that. And it really helps.
“And when I've come back here I've taken that experience and brought it into my play down here in England. And I'm just really enjoying being down here,” said Norfolk's latest Scottish convert. “I love the area; I like all the boys – basically, I'm just enjoying my football.”
Hence the very large grin on his face. Without a game in midwek, the Canaries have clearly been a able to mix fun time with work time – and to concentrate on keeping the good times rolling.
“We know that the situation that we're in that we're not beating round the bush here – we've got to go on two or three runs. And we know it's going to take a lot of hard work to really pull out of this bottom area of the table. But the boys are all working hard and, as I say, if you're working hard you're going to get your rewards.”
One of which is a far happier camp.
“I think you can see that yourselves,” said Fotheringham. “I think Glenn's come in and everybody is feeling good about themselves now.
“And it's also down to the players themselves – they've worked hard to get ourselves out of this rut. But at the same time I keep saying to them all – and they're probably sick listening to me – but we should not be down at the bottom of that table.
“We've got too many quality players in the team – we've got the Huckerbys, the Dublins, the Darel Russells, Otsemobors. Guys like that who I look at and think to myself: 'I don't see too many players in this league that are better than them in their position…'
“So we've got to start believing it.”
With an away clash to Scunthorpe to follow tomorrow's short trip to Essex, City not only have the chance to lift themselves further away from the danger zone but also to add to the woes of those already in it. Scramble their way to mid-table and with the January transfer window still to come, then this season could still offer one or two more interesting turns.
“We've still got so many games to play – we've still got a long season ahead of us,” said Fotheringham. “So we've just got to keep looking forward, but I do think this month and next month will be crucial.”
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