City teenager Korey Smith could be forgiven for pinching himself at a little after 3.30pm yesterday afternoon.
For after a summer in which he had barely troubled any team-sheet courtesy of an ill-timed injury, there he was on the centre stage at Carrow Road – drilling home an absolute peach of a 25-yard drive on his first-ever home start.
Surely, it could get any better?
Well, it could. And it did a little after 4.15pm when Smith found his best pal Tom Adeyemi standing alongside him in that Canary midfield; suddenly the two young men who had cut such a dash in that FA Youth Cup run were now running the show for the first team at Carrow Road.
Smith's day was duly complete. Little wonder he was sporting the broadest of smiles after that 5-2 success marked Paul Lambert's arrival at the helm of the Norfolk club.
“It was madness,” admitted the FA Youth Cup skipper, as he and his big pal teamed up on Lambert's big day.
“It was only the other week and we were actually speaking to eachother and saying: 'We've come through together; last year we've done well together in the FA Youth Cup; we've both got our professional contracts together… Imagine one day that we'd both be playing in the first team together…
“And we said: 'Well, it might happen in a couple of years or something… establish a little partnership.
“But when he came on, we just gave eachother a little smile. We couldn't believe it – it was great to play with Tom. We're really good friends.”
The goal wasn't too shabby either as a half-cleared corner fell to a lurking Smith and the sweetest of drives sent the ball arrowing back through a crowd of players some three-foot off the floor.
“Unbelievable,” said Smith, as he looked back on his first senior strike.
“I couldn't believe it – it just dropped to me on the edge of the area and there was nothing else to do but to just to try and strike it on target. I think it took a little deflection in the six-yard box, but I was just so happy.
“I didn't have a goal celebration or anything planned; everyone jumped on me before I could do anything.”
All in all then, quite an afternoon. Not one that he'd actually planned, either. Mr Lambert appears to be one of those who can be full of surprises.
“I was injured in pre-season and I actually thought I was going to be playing 90 minutes for the Youth team on Saturday,” said Smith, as his plans for the weekend changed suddenly.
After watching the midweek defeat at Brentford and with memories of that 7-1 success with his Us side still fresh in the memory, Lambert wanted a willing pair of legs to bring some energy to bear on that City midfield; in the ever-willing 18-year-old he found them as the likes of Owain Tudur Jones, Darel Russell and Matt Gill watched on from the stands.
“And that would have been my first 90 minutes – playing for the Youths,” he added. “But I did well in training this week and then, just before the match, he said my name.
“I was quite surprised, but I did think I'd done well in training and thought that I was in with a chance. But I was, obviously, very happy – to be injured all pre-season and then to be given the chance to impress the Gaffer… It was quality.”
And all he deserved after a rough summer in which the teenager's hopes of hitting the ground running from the start were hit by a groin strain.
“I'd worked hard in the summer, but to come back and get injured straight away was really tough,” he admitted. “But I always believed in myself; I thought I could get back. It was always a case of just working hard and, hopefully, I can now push on from here.
“But I've got to keep my feet on the ground. It's only one match…”
It is only one match for new boss Lambert; it was, however, quite a match.
“It was only one match, but we've got to try and push on from it; build confidence off it,” said Smith, not slow to recognise the difference between City's two home games this season. Shape was the word on many a lip.
“He's given us a lot better shape; and we were just working a lot harder for eachother; if one was going forward, then we were covering for eachother. We were working as a team and trying to get the crowd on our side. And that's all we can do, really.”
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