Grant Holt would love nothing better than to haunt Norwich City
17:30 11 December 2014
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Sentiment is a scarce commodity across top level football.
Frank Lampard left Chelsea after wonderful service to the Blues, capped by edging out Bobby Tambling in his final season at Stamford Bridge to become Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer.
None of that mattered when he pitched up at Premier League title rivals Manchester City via New York City earlier this season and found himself facing Jose Mourinho’s side.
Lampard predictably denied his old club three points with a trademark late run into the penalty box and unerringly cool finish, the like of which proved his stock in trade for Mourinho’s men over the past decade.
Football is littered with such moments. Denis Law and the popular myth he consigned Manchester United to relegation with his impudent back-heeled goal during a late-career sojourn across the city.
Sol Campbell returning to White Hart Lane in the red of Arsenal, Luis Figo dodging the cigarette lighters and a pig’s head on his first return to the Nou Camp in the white of Real Madrid against Barcelona.
You would get short odds on Grant Holt’s first Carrow Road return this weekend with Huddersfield ending in the former triple player-of-the-year notching against his former employer. A club he helped transform from the wreck of slipping into the third tier for the first time in 50 years through a stellar ascent and finally a successful maiden tilt at Premier League survival.
Holt’s well-thumbed story transcends the football pitch. The one-time tyre fitter became a terrace icon and focal point inside the Norwich dressing room.
Holt was an infectious character most supporters could easily identify with; an old school footballer who came up the hard way along a path which honed a fearless approach and willingness to prove people wrong that endeared him as much as his prolific goalscoring exploits in tandem with the likes of Chris Martin and Wes Hoolahan.
The 33-year-old was not forced out of Carrow Road. He chose to leave and take his young family closer to his northern roots. There can be no questioning his loyalty to the cause during a four-year stint that left a lasting impression on all those who shared the journey.
The huge affection for Norwich was still evident when I spoke to him earlier this week. But Holt has moved on and so have the Canaries. There will be no sentiment come 3pm on Saturday when Neil Adams’ side strive to build on a hard-fought victory at Wigan.
Holt has been around the block too many times to expect any.
The Cumbrian will be rightly lauded on an afternoon when the wily frontman will do everything in his power to trigger more palpable frustration around Carrow Road.
As the man himself told me when asked to recall the hot reception endured on the Terriers’ recent Championship league visit to Ipswich – when his City connections made him a visible target – that was the essence of what his game is all about. Holt’s career has been forged on an ability to be loved and loathed in equal measure. He can expect a very different reaction to his Portman Road inquisition this coming weekend.