New Canary signing Steve Morison could soon be joined in the Premiership with a former non-league team-mate as speculation continued to mount that 24-year-old Leeds midfielder Bradley Johnson figured large on Paul Lambert’s transfer radar.
Today, the Yorkshire Evening Post were busily suggesting that the newly-promoted Canaries had, indeed, won the race for the midfielder’s signature as Johnson – handily 24-years-old – walked out of Elland Road on a free transfer.
He certainly comes from central casting Lambert-wise.
Like David Fox – released by Manchester United as a teenager – the Hackney-born United star spent his formative years at Arsenal only to be released at 16.
Following a brief spell at Cambridge United, he joined Northampton Town. Whilst there, he enjoyed a four-game loan spell at Stevenage Borough for whom a certain S Morison was banging in the goals.
With a similar loan spell at Ebbsfleet also under his belt, Johnson is yet another player whose path to potential Premier League riches has been littered with false dawns and quashed hopes – all of which ensures a hunger and a determination sufficient to catch the eye of a passing Lambert.
Certainly Morison knows all about the other side of life. The 27-year-old was, after all, playing non-league football with Boro’ just three years ago before Millwall boss Kenny Jackett snapped up his services for a bargain £100,000.
The rest, as they say, is history as Morison looks forward to stepping out in the top flight of English football – potentially in the company of another former Stevenage star.
“I was playing non league three years ago,” Morison told the Press yesterday as he officially completed a reported £2.8 million switch to Norfolk. It is a rags-to-riches story repeated right across this Canary squad.
Skipper Grant Holt rebuilt his career out of Barrow; Russell Martin found himself at Lewes after being released by Brighton. Little wonder that all concerned are pinching themselves that they are now Old Trafford-bound; all, no doubt, are heading there with a big smile on their faces.
No-one can take away the fact that they are now Premier League players.
For the likes of Morison – who used to rise at 4am in the morning to man a lorry shredding paper through the near-deserted streets of London, life has probably never tasted quite so sweet.
“Yes, it has been a steep rise, but one I have thoroughly enjoyed,” said the Welsh international, now reaping the rewards of that ‘Never-say-die’ attitude.
“It is definitely not easy – you have to work hard and I have managed to do that. I have got lucky at times, and I have managed to still score goals and as a striker that it what you are judged on,” he said.
“It is something you dream about when you are a kid, to play in the Premier League, but when you are in non-league it is the furthest thing from your mind.
“You are just worried about whether you are going to play league football again, let alone play in the Premier League.”
This week that dream came true – as it yet might for Johnson.
The versatile midfielder – able to drop in on the left-side and in at left-back – found himself at logger-heads with Leeds owner Ken Bates last autumn over the small matter of a new and improved three-year deal.
Knowing that he would be 24 this summer and, therefore, able ‘to do a Bosman’, it put Johnson in the driving seat talks-wise.
And he duly walked as the Canaries stepped in for a player that left Elland Road with United’s ‘Goal of the Season’ award to his name – courtesy of a 35-yard screamer in an FA Cup tie against Arsenal.
In fairness to the player, he appears to have put in some big shifts over those last few months – despite the fact that a summer exit was likely to beckon.
With Brighton winger Elliott Bennett reported to be there or thereabouts, Lambert could yet finish this week with four new faces added to his Premiership pack.
Given the fact that he is only able to carry a squad of 25 players into the top flight, the likelihood of further exits grows with every passing signature as Lambert re-models his playing staff again.