For a man who has spent the last 11 years of his life riding the roller-coaster that is Norwich City Football Club, Adam Drury looks well on it.
In fact, he barely looks any different to the player that first walked through the doors of Colney in 2001 – ‘the best defender outside the Premiership’, according to the man who sold him for £500,000 that spring.
Some 361 games and four goals later and it summed up the white-knuckle ride that is Norwich City that the 33-year-old had no idea whether his latest manager would be still be at the football club come August.
Four hours later and he, likewise, had no idea whether his team-mate and skipper would still be in Norfolk come the end of the summer. One question was resolved, however. His biggest pal in football – Darren Huckerby – would be back to grace Carrow Road again on Tuesday night as Celtic headed south for his richly-deserved Testimonial Match.
Otherwise, it was all shaping up to be another ride on the Canary roller-coaster as the footballing fates left so much to be decided – Drury’s own future very much included. Out of contract this summer, Tuesday night could yet be his last appearance before the home faithful.
He could yet follow Zak Whitbread and Aaron Wilbraham out of the door – not to mention both boss Paul Lambert and skipper Grant Holt, after he stunned the Canary Nation with Friday’s shock transfer request.
“Did I ever think I’d still be here 11 years later? No – no chance,” said Drury, as his big night draws ever closer.
“But coming here was a big opportunity for me. Coming from Peterborough, Norwich was a big club with a big ground and all the history behind it.
“And sometimes you wonder whether you’d missed such an opportunity; whether you’d missed the boat. I’d got to that age (22) where people had talked about me for a couple of years, but no-one had ever come in and bought me.
“And then – on Aidy Boothroyd’s recommendation – Nigel (Worthington) has come along and taken a punt on me. And it’s turned out pretty well…’
Given the years of service that have since followed, it wasn’t the worst £500,000 that the club have ever splashed about; within 15 months, Drury was part of a City side that were but a penalty away from the Premiership in the heart-breaker that was the Play-Off final against Birmingham.
Two years later and Drury was on the balcony of City Hall lifting that famous, old Football League Championship trophy as City swept into the top flight. A year after that it was Fulham (a). Cue a period of mid-table toil that finally culminated in Charlton (a).
Colchester United (h) followed. The rest is more folklore than history as Lambert drove the club back up the league pyramid. Come Easter 2012 and who would be found playing left-back away at White Hart Lane and the victory that, more than any other, confirmed Norwich’s status as a Premier League concern for another season.
It has been a remarkable story – made that much more so by the fleeting nature of player loyalty these days. Little wonder that Lambert could be found suggesting that Drury’s length of service is rarely likely to be repeated in the modern game.
It is a sure sign of his standing amongst his team-mates old and new that the likes of Henri Lansbury, Michael Nelson, Dani Pacheco and some fella called Hucks will be in attendance on Tuesday night.
That alone promises to be a special moment as the Canary legend finally gets the ‘Farewell!’ moment he was denied by then-boss Glenn Roeder. It is just one of a clutch of fascinating sub-plots to surround Drury’s Testimonial Match.
“One special hightlight? Probably standing on the balcony of City Hall with that famous trophy,” said Drury. It wasn’t alone.
“All the promotions have been great. Obviously when you go to the depths of League One like we did and then getting beat 7-1 – at that point you’re thinking: ‘I’ll just be happy to finish mid-table this season!’
“To win that league, to get back into The Championship and think: ‘Right, if we can just consolidate in this league and give ourselves a chance…’ But then to get out of that league at the first attempt means that the last three years have been a dream.
“To be 33 and playing in the Premier League – and staying up comfortably in the Premier League too – is unreal. There are so many highlights. It’s so hard to pick just one.”
In the meantime, City chief executive David McNally today deployed the power of Twitter to angrily refute a suggestion in today’s Sun newspaper that Holt was on his way due to a ‘massive row’ over a new, Premier League deal.
A row that ended with the 31-year-old slamming in a transfer request in protest.
“We did receive a transfer request from Grant Holt yesterday – it was rejected immediately,” the City chief told his 9,000 followers on Twitter, as he insisted Norwich were no ‘club in crisis’.
“There has been no offer made to any in contract player, at this stage,” he said, with Holt still having two years to run on his existing, three-year deal.
“The article in today’s Sun is completely inaccurate and incorrect. We have not had an argument or a row with any player, including Grant. I repeat, no new deal has been discussed with any in contract player, including Grant.
“The most important activity currently underway at NCFC is Adam Drury’s Testimonial on Tuesday. Please buy a ticket. Please RT.”
Tomorrow: Adam Drury talks about Norfolk’s special one and what marks Paul Lambert out from the managerial crowd.