Northern Ireland international Sammy Clingan duly became Norwich's first permanent signing of the summer after the out-of-contract Nottingham Forest midfielder agreed a two-year deal with the Norfolk side.
The 24-year-old thus became only the second, full-time signing of Glenn Roeder's nine-month reign following Matty Pattison's switch from Newcastle United last season.
It was delight all round as the Canaries stepped in ahead of the likes of QPR and Ipswich Town, reportedly, to secure Clingan's signature – much to Colin Calderwood's frustration, no doubt, after already watching Kris Commons walk out of the door this summer on a free to join East Midlands rivals Derby County.
Given that Forest have just splashed ?2.65 million on ex-Canary striker Robert Earnshaw, it is clear that money wasn't likely to be the issue given that Calderwood made it clear as recently as last week that he wanted his midfield lynch-pin to stay firmly put.
Instead, it appears that Clingan simply felt that the time was ripe for a change of scenery. And that in the likes of Roeder and his No2 Lee Clark, he saw two individuals who could take his career onto the next level.
“Once I had spoken to Glenn Roeder and viewed the fantastic facilities at the club, it was an easy decision to make,” said Clingan, as the club's official website announced today's first dip into the summer transfer market.
A Bosman free transfer, the wording gives that particular game away – has 'agreed to sign' is code for the fact that, technically, he remains a Forest player until his current contract at the City Ground expires at the end of this month. His two-year Canary deal then kicks in from July 1.
At which point Clingan is clearly hoping that Roeder and Co can add a little Premiership-style polish to a player that has already begun to show his potential worth on the international stage with Nigel Worthington's Northern Ireland outfit.
“I knew of Glenn's managerial reputation – working with big name players in the Premier League – and hopefully he will help me become a better player too,” Clingan told the club's official website this afternoon.
“I was very impressed with what he said and his plans for the future – it really caught me and now I can't wait for the first game.”
Interviewed by the official Forest website towards the end of last season, the interviewer suggested that Clingan was one of those characters in life that is far more comfortable simply doing his stuff with the ball at his feet than grabbing the nearest microphone. He might not be quite as interview-shy as Paul Scholes, but the impression remained that the Norwich new-boy wouldn't be grabbing too many back-page headlines.
“I just get on with it really,” he told Forest TV. “Come in, train hard, train well and try and play well.”
With 46 games to his credit last season, Clingan clearly did well enough to be a central part of Calderwood's League One promotion machine; he also stepped up to the plate at international level and became a regular for Worthington in their luckless Euro2008 qualifying campaign – including the 3-2 defeat of Spain at Windsor Park courtesy of David Healy's stunning hat-trick, the second of which came courtesy of a Clingan free-kick delivery.
Earlier that summer and Clingan had been forced to withdraw from the Northern Ireland squad that was due to face Everton in a celebration match to mark the 25th anniversary of the famous Milk Cup competition following the sudden and tragic death of his teenage cousin, Tony McNeill, from a suspected heart-attack.
“Football is important but in life it's your health and the health of your family and friends which is first and foremost, the most important thing,” said Worthington at the time, as he helped the heart-broken Clingan through an emotional time for player and family alike.
“Football comes after that. I'm fortunate in that nothing very bad has happened in my life which has kept football in perspective but Sammy's situation is a horrendous one,” added the ex-City chief. “You sometimes have to deal with situations like this in life, but I've been lucky to have experienced mostly positive things in life.”
The suspicion remains that Clingan's arrival in Norfolk may, in part, have something to do with Worthington. The Northern Ireland boss has never given up his North Norfolk home and it would be a slight surprise if Clingan did not check out both Norwich City the club and Norwich the place with his international manager ahead of today's move.
Either way and Roeder was delighted by his first, full-time capture of the summer – one that may, finally, be firing into transfer life.
“I'm extremely happy to secure the signature of Sammy Clingan,” Roeder told the club's official site this afternoon.
“He is a player that we watched a number of times during a successful promotion season at Nottingham Forest last year,” added Roeder.
“We felt that he was the driving force in their midfield and we look forward to him continuing in an upward curve with us and having met him, he struck me as having the drive and motivation that I'm looking for in my players.”
Clingan's arrival will certainly make things interesting in the centre of that Canary midfield where skipper Mark Fotheringham and Darel Russell came to dominate.
Russell has, of course, already been linked to a switch to Burnley this summer, though Clingan's style of play is more likely to find him going head-to-head with Fotheringham for that second, more defensive-minded midfield gig.
It is the role he played for Northern Ireland in that 1-0 away defeat by Spain and his goal-scoring record would suggest as much – that he is more likely to be found pulling the strings than being on the end of one.
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