Striker led Canaries from League One
12 July ~ The news that Grant Holt has moved to Wigan was a sad moment for Norwich fans, albeit an inevitable one. Four years ago he joined us for £400,000. This week he left for a deal reportedly worth up to £4 million, at the age of 32. A total of 78 goals in 168 appearances, back-to-back promotions, 15 goals in his first Premier League season and captaining the Canaries to two solid mid-table finishes on our return to the top flight is no mean feat for a striker previously considered a lower-league journeyman.
When he joined us we were at rock bottom, having fallen into League One. Lacking direction, leadership or purpose on and off the field, the club needed strong personalities to bring back some self belief. The combination of Paul Lambert and his captain Holt did just that. Holt's reputation for being thuggish on the field is unfair to a man with so many qualities to his game. Under Lambert and later Chris Hughton, he embodied exactly the way they wanted the team to play. And not just in overall style: Lambert especially, under whom Holt flourished, liked to play the 90 minutes with any mix of direct, counter attacking and fluid passing games which Holt would instigate and adapt to as demanded by his manager.
While he was Sheareresque in his attitude to defenders (nobody will forget the joy of watching him bully John Terry for 90 minutes) in truth his passing, touch and vision were often exquisite. He is probably one of the best crossers of the ball we have ever seen at Carrow Road. He defended stoutly when required, drew fouls when he had to and scored goals when we most needed them.
Under Hughton he sacrificed his attacking instincts for the manager's mantra of defending from the front. He might not have liked it and it demanded energy of body and mind that would be testing for any lone striker, but by his example the team stuck to the task through difficult times to ensure that they would not, at any cost, be relegated.
The plan worked and it is a shame that Holt was turned on by some fans in his final season. A combination of his silly transfer request and lack of goals proved some people right who, strangely, had never really taken to him from day one. Vocal minorities aside, we probably all agree it is time for this chapter in Norwich's history to end. We are buying £10m strikers now – but without four years of Holt's purpose and belief, none of this would be possible. Paul Buller