To continue my series of overseas Norwich City players from specific geographical areas I thought I’d set my sights on our African players by beginning with somebody I have never seen play.
Sandy Kennon, from the then Rhodesia, who took over from 59-er hero Ken Nethercott between the sticks toward the end of that magnificent FA Cup run and stayed with the club until around 1965.
My thanks to MFW regular Alex Blain for that information – I just didn’t have a clue.
Kennon was apparently quite a character who played Norfolk cricket and, I’ve subsequently, discovered he also played rugby for Beccles if Wiki is telling the truth. Mind you, what keeper isn’t a character?
And if Ian Botham can play football for Scunthorpe and Graham Gooch regularly train with his beloved West Ham there’s plenty of room for reciprocation between the sports.
The first African I can remember at the Carra was one Pape Diop who Bruce Rioch signed on a loan deal from Lens in 1999.
A Senegalese, he was a buccaneering right-sided wing-back with the speed of a greyhound and the skill of our fruitbowl. When empty.
He was accused [it looked like it occurred from my perch in the Barclay] of spitting at QPR fans on Boxing Day and that was that. The irony is that when Rioch was manager of Middlesbrough there were signs on the corners at their home end: “Bruce Says No Spitting”.
I know that because I went to a few games at Ayresome Park when Rioch was in situ. Oh dear.
Moving swiftly on, Alex B and I both remember Matty Pattison, born in South Africa. I’m sure every other supporter/victim of the Roedent era will recall him as well between 2007-08. A loanee from Newcastle, there was nothing like the Roeder wizardry in action.
Pattison did score against Ipswich but apart from that I’ve nothing positive to say about him. His drink-drive conviction while with us wasn’t very endearing either.
In no chronological order I’m going to concentrate on some of the good ones.
John and Justin Fashanu hailed from Nigeria. John made very little impact at Norwich but oh boy did he do well for himself later.
Justin needs no accreditation from me. We all know of his great attributes and his troubled life so I’ll keep it brief and just mention THAT goal of the season against Liverpool. I was so lucky to have been there that day and will never forget it.
Carrying on with the Nigerian lads, up comes Efan Okoku, a cheapie from Bournemouth. The son of a Nigerian chieftain, he moved onto anything hit over the top like greased weasel $hit. God he was quick, as Vitesse Arnhem and Everton found out to their cost. He famously scored four at Goodison.
Strangely, like John Fashanu, he moved on from us to Wimbledon.
Joseph Yobo completes my Nigerian quartet. A Chris Hughton loanee, as I understand it he joined us basically to keep his fitness levels up. Very tidy and vastly experienced, he never let us down in the second half of that relegation season.
Next up is Andrew Surman, a very classy South African during the Lambert era. Left-sided, tidy and seeing out his days in Bournemouth as folks more than twice his age tend to do. Much respected by all NCFC supporters then and [hopefully] now. And yet another one we released too early, in my opinion anyway.
Kei Kamara is the only Sierra Leonian to score and play in the Premier League. His back story was incredible and, hey, what a character. Another of whom I have fond memories.
I have to mention him at some point, so up pops Sebastien Bassong, courtesy of the Cameroon. To my mind he was one of those players who could make you laugh or cry in equal measure.
He could be stoical, hard-working and resilient. Or inept and seemingly uncaring with a strange taste in social media posts, including one which included a pistol and the word “security”. OK Seb, whatever you think’s right. Formed possibly the worst Norwich centre-back partnership I’ve ever seen when in tandem with Russell Martin.
I once had the privilege of meeting Youssef Safri in the Rising Sun in Coltishall of all places. A really nice fella and obviously we spoke about the two things everybody remembers him for.
Firstly the thunderba$tard against Newcastle. He honestly said: “I just looked up and hit it”.
He loved his flag in the Barclay and particularly his song. If there has ever been a better player-dedicated song than Morrocan all over the world I’m buggered if I know what it is.
So who gets the grand finale then?
No prizes for guessing that it’s our very own Norwegian-Ghanaian, Alex Tettey.
Eight or nine years of sterling service, the odd spectacular goal [check out Sunderland] and more bookings than the Holiday Inn.
My favourite Norwich City African of all time and I’m delighted we’ve got him for another year. We’ll be needing him for sure.
And if anybody can tell me what Youssouf Mulumbu did for us, please don’t feel afraid to let me know.