New City goalkeeper John Ruddy has revealed that first-team football and a return to East Anglia were the driving forces behind this week’s switch from Everton.
The 23-year-old was a highly thought of youngster at Cambridge United, before the Merseyside giants snapped him up in 2005.
But he struggled to nail down a spot in David Moyes’ starting XI and has spent much of his time out on loan. Ruddy then starred in the SPL for Motherwell last season and his performances have prompted Paul Lambert to give him the No.1 shirt at Carrow Road.
And the Cambridgeshire-born ‘keeper is now hoping to put down some roots with a permanent gig in Norfolk. He can’t wait to get started.
“It’s very good, I’m settling in really well,” he told reporters this week. “The lads are brilliant and training has been going well. I’m just looking forward to the season starting now.
“For me at this point of my career, coming off the back of a good spell with Motherwell, I just wanted to play. It’s important for my family as well as I have a young son who needs to settle down.
“To come back to this area, being from St Ives, was an opportunity I could not turn down.
“When I knew Norwich needed a goalkeeper and they were going back in for Fraser Forster, who did very well here, I made sure my agent was on the case every day to try and push it through. Thankfully I am here now.”
Unlike many players who arrive in Norfolk for the first time, Ruddy will know a fair bit about the club, having grown up ‘down the road’ in Cambridgeshire. With that being the case, it should take him no time at all to feel at home.
“They are a massive club. This might be unfair to say so but if you’re not from this area, you don’t realise how big it is.
“The setup here is geared towards being a Premiership club. Hopefully in the next few years we can achieve that ambition.
“Apart from Cambridge, it was the nearest club to me and it is the biggest club in the area. Like I say, the opportunity to come here was ideal for me at this time in my career and personal life.”
Expectation is high amongst the Canary faithful going into the new season, with the club romping to the League One title last time out. And according to Ruddy, the sky’s the limit; there is no reason why they shouldn’t be targeting back-to-back promotions.
“I think we can achieve anything we want,” he continued. “We have bought some good players and built on the squad that did well last year so I don’t see why we can’t push for another promotion.
“The manager is positive, the players are positive and it is in our hands. We can go as far as we want.”
Still considered a rookie before his temporary move north of the border, a full season playing in a competitive league – even though the Old Firm continue to dominate – has done Ruddy the world of good.
And the 6ft 4in goalkeeper is ready to take that experience into his new career in the English Championship.
“Playing every week is just a different mentality really. At Everton I would go into training every day, knowing I was not playing on Saturday, and have nothing to work towards.
“When there is a game on the Saturday, and you are part of the squad, you know what you are getting yourself ready for.
“For whatever reason, David Moyes didn’t think I warranted a start. I loved my time at Everton and made lot of good friends up there. But this is a new chapter in my life.”
Ruddy is not expecting an easy ride to the No.1 slot, however, with promising stoppers Declan Rudd and Jed Steer coming through the ranks.
And he knows he is going to have to prove himself before the big kick-off, despite being the clear favourite to start that opening fixture against Watford on August 6.
“It won’t be easy. The other two are very good young ‘keepers so for me to get complacent would be wrong. I know I have to come in and work hard every day to make that spot my own.”