Canary striker Jamie Cureton today revealed how he had taken a leaf straight out of Ian Wright's book as he celebrated that all-important lone strike against Barnsley yesterday – and all on the day that Glenn Roeder made him captain.
The armband may well, of course, pass back to Mark Fotheringham next weekend as he makes his return from suspension. But if only for one weekend, there will be few prouder men in Norfolk than a one-time City youth starlet asked to lead his beloved Canaries out into battle.
“I felt very proud,” said Cureton, who produced the sweetest of left foot strikes in the 26th minute to propel the Carrow Road side into the top half of the table for virtually the first time this season.
Lee Croft's cross was deflected down and into Cureton's path. One touch to leave it dropping onto his supposedly weaker left foot; the next to send a low, dipping, 18-yarder inside Luke Steele's right-hand post.
After that it was time to share a very special moment with the corner of Snake Pit and Barclay. And that kiss on the armband.
“I said that if I scored, I'd do my Ian Wright,” said Cureton, clearly a fan of the Arsenal goal-scoring legend turned TV pundit and host.
“I remember when he was captain once, he scored and he put the armband out and held his arm out,” added Cureton, who kind of missed out on the latter stages of the Wright routine.
“It was sort of in my head once it went in. But it was just a really proud moment – to captain Norwich is a massive thing for me. And to score as well…'
It is certainly a long, long way since then boss Mike Walker described a free-spirited teenager 'daft as a brush'. Some 14 years later and the boy that used to score for fun on the playing fields of Trowse, is now back home in Norfolk and leading his team by example.
“I've been thrown the armband now and again, but to be actually given it and lead the team out was a real, real proud moment,” said Cureton, never before asked to take charge of a team from the start.
“So when the manager pulled me and said: 'Can you lead the boys, out?' I felt really pleased,” said the 32-year-old, who took his tally to nine for the season with that all-important strike. Another cute piece of man-management by the City boss as Cureton responded to that act of Roeder blessing?
“He's chosen me and that's another good thing for me – so it was really good today,” said Cureton, suggesting that the ploy worked a treat. It also ensured that he was first out of the dressing room and all sorted – as opposed to last, late and a little disorganised.
“It made me hurry up things more because I'm always last… speed things up! But it just felt good; that extra little buzz for me. As soon as he said: 'You're going to be captain, it was just a really nice feeling. And I just tried to go out there and lead by example.”
Minus that nagging appendix problem and Cureton had felt 'in the zone' all week in training. And come three o'clock on Saturday, that freshness was about to pay big dividends.
“I've had a really good week – I felt really sharp in training. I think the operation, to some point, as maybe helped me. It's given me a time-out to maybe clear my head a bit of what's been a bit of a patchy season so far; maybe just come back a lot fresher,” said the City striker.
“As I say, I felt really good all week and was dying to get back into the team and start scoring again. And that [the captaincy] was just the icing on the cake; it gave me another lift again.”
Cue one half-chance. Cue one, wonderful, instinctive strike.
“I think I took the shot as I would have done had I score four or five on the bounce. It flew in and just these little bits of luck start to change for you,” said Cureton, clearly determined to make full use of Dion Dublin's one-match ban. “I've got 13 games to get back in; hopefully, score a few goals and end the season really well.”
In the meantime, however, it was a short, sunshine break and the chance to re-charge and re-bond ahead of this weekend's home clash with Blackpool. Thereafter and the games come thick and fast as the final, mad dash to the finish looms.
“The gaffer came in and said becuase we'd done so well he was going to try and get us one [a break],” said Cureton, more in tune than most as to the feelings on the terraces and where, exactly, most people had Norwich heading for on November 1.
“The run that we've been on – to be on 45 points and inthe top half of the table from where we were – the boys have done tremendously well. Because I think people had written us off and had us dead and buried.
“And the club was low. The players were low and I think it's testament to the character of the boys that we've managed to turn things round and put us in the position where we are.”
Hence a few days away.
“I think the club has realised that and the gaffer has pushed for it and it's just nice – a change of scenery and a bit of sun. Bit of bonding again with the lads and, hopefully, we'll come back raring to go and try and take another three points at home to Blackpool.”
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