Young Canaries' star Declan is the talk of the town

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?'Playing in the Premiership' was the confident response from promising goalkeeper Declan Rudd in Diss High School's year book of 2007.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

'Playing in the Premiership' was the confident response from promising goalkeeper Declan Rudd in Diss High School's year book of 2007.

Two years later, the teenager, whose school shirt was covered with good luck messages on leavers' day, made a significant step towards his dream by donning the No13 jersey for his home debut for the Norwich City first team.

His family and former teachers spoke of their pride yesterday after the footballer from Diss made his first league start and kept a clean sheet in front of a crowd of 23,000 at Carrow Road on Tuesday night.

Norwich City fans will be hoping that the 18-year-old can fulfil his 2007 prophecy of playing between the sticks in the Premiership for his home club after being spotted playing as a striker in a youth game at Bressingham when he was eight.

Rudd was the talk of his former school yesterday with staff hoping that the rising Norfolk sports star can follow in the footsteps of ex-Diss High School student and England and West Ham defender Matthew Upson. His full first team debut comes a year after turning professional.

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Ironically, the latest Canaries academy success played mostly outfield for the school football team, which reached county cup semi-finals and South Norfolk cup finals during his time at Diss High.

James Kemp, head of PE at the school, said the talented sportsman was also a competent wicket keeper with a 'slightly wild' batting action for the cricket team and occasionally played rugby for the school.

'He was very keen and enthusiastic about sport and very committed to training. In fairness he didn't play much in goal for us and we used him as centre back or defensive midfielder because he was more effective in those roles in schoolboy football. We didn't see him playing in goal until he was 16!

'It was very pleasing when Matthew Upson came through and now Declan is following through it is great for the school that they are taking the Diss name with them,' he said.

His grandfather, Brian Rudd, yesterday said he was pleased to see his grandson keep a clean sheet on his Carrow Road debut in the 4-0 win over Leyton Orient.

'He is very confident and it seems that he can handle the pressure very well. I think we were more nervous watching; it doesn't faze him.'

'It's all he has ever wanted and he has put so much into it, including my son Stuart, who has only missed three or four games since Declan was nine,' he said.

Rudd was still studying for his GCSEs at Diss when he became the first Norwich City player to kick a ball in anger at the new Wembley stadium in April 2007 for England under 16s. He was also in the national squad for the European under 19 championships in Ukraine earlier this year.

Mike Copperwheat , his former head of year at Diss High School, said he could tell that Rudd was destined for greatness when he left to pursue a full-time career in football following the completion of his GCSEs in 2007.

'There were some very good sportspeople in his year group, but he was always committed to Norwich and was always destined to do well.

'We are very proud of the fact that he has made it at Norwich City and represented England at under 16 to under 19 level and we hope he becomes a regular in the England sides at higher levels,' he said.

Rudd receives boost from Canaries' boss Lambert - page 49.

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