Norfolk boy Gill's dream comes true
PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:03 06 July 2010
Matthew Gill says he cannot wait to live the dream and pull on a Norwich City shirt after becoming Bryan Gunn's first summer signing yesterday. The Norwich-born midfielder has signed a two-year-deal with the Canaries after joining on a free transfer from Exeter City - nearly 20 years after leaving the club.
Matthew Gill says he cannot wait to live the dream and pull on a Norwich City shirt after becoming Bryan Gunn's first summer signing yesterday.
The Norwich-born midfielder has signed a two-year-deal with the Canaries after joining on a free transfer from Exeter City - nearly 20 years after leaving the club.
Gill was released from the club's Centre of Excellence as a ten-year-old before making the grade at Peterborough, Notts County and then helping the Grecians secure back-to-back promotions from the Conference to League One.
Now his footballing journey has come full circle and a chance to prove himself with his hometown club - just as the 28-year-old is playing the best football of his career.
And after admitting he would have “walked from Devon” to sign for his childhood favourites, Gill is looking forward to stepping out at Carrow Road in front of his Mum and Dad who live in Holt.
“I didn't want to mention too much to my Mum and Dad or my family until it was a bit closer to happening because I didn't want them to get too excited,” he said.
“But I've had a good chat with all my family and they're very excited to say the least. They're not regulars (at Carrow Road) but they will be now. Mum and Dad live in Holt - it's a bit closer than Exeter.
“It's an unbelievable opportunity to come back and hopefully put on the yellow and green shirt. Not just for me but my family as well.
“They're ecstatic with the move, so it's just a matter now of getting going and hopefully getting into the team.”
Voted the players' player of the season after a fine campaign for Exeter at St James' Park, Gill said it was not a difficult decision to join a Norwich side who will play his old team in League One next season.
“It would have been for any other club,” he said. “But I think it's any boy's dream to play for their home town club, so as soon as I knew there was interest from Norwich it was an easy decision to make.
“There was no need to speak to anyone regarding the decision. It was easy to make. That chance to put the shirt on was too good to miss.
“Every player out there wants to play in front of big crowds and to have that opportunity every other week at home will be great. It's definitely part of the pull of signing and I look forward to the season getting under way.
“I describe myself as someone who links play quite well, likes to get on the ball and not scared of putting my foot in. I got a few goals last season, maybe in previous years not so many.”
And now he is finally here, Gill, who played for Old Catton Juniors and went to school at Fakenham High, is intent on helping City return to the Championship.
“I've spoken about the difference of the two clubs, the fan base and the facilities so obviously it's a great opportunity to be involved with, I would say Premier League facilities and ground, so I would say it's a great opportunity for me to train here at Colney and hopefully play at Carrow Road,” he said.
“It's a very competitive league this year. Obviously all the teams that came down will be competitive, and there's the likes of Leeds, Millwall, MK Dons and Colchester so it will be very competitive league and I'm sure that's one we'll do well in.
“He didn't really need to sell the club to me I'd have probably walked from Devon but he's got ambitions like the players have so let's hope we can get off to a good start and then who knows.”
“I think it's a big season for the club and the county. I think the club will be very competitive next year and we'll see how it goes but I'm sure the club will be there or thereabouts in that top six.”
Gill, who has played alongside Adam Drury when the pair were at Posh, also has another string to his bow, should his Norwich City career not go quite as planned.
He owns Premier Racquets and Fitness, in Sedgeford, near Hunstanton with older brother Darren, the former Wroxham star and ex-Canaries apprentice.
The pair are both Level 1 tennis coaches, although Gill does not envisage spending too much time at the centre,
“I'm a partner with my brother at the tennis club,” he said. “I don't get too involved. He works hard and I tend to stay out of the way!”
t SPOTLIGHT ON MATTHEW GILL, A RARE NORFOLK-BORN PLAYER AT CARROW ROAD
Born: Norwich, November 8, 1980
Height: 5ft 11ins
Weight: 11st 7lbs
Position: Central midfield
Clubs: Peterborough United, 1997-2004 (167 games, 4 goals), Notts County 2004-2006 (66, 0), Exeter City 2006-2009 (164, 14).
t First player to be sent off at the new Wembley in Exeter's Conference play-off final defeat by Morecambe in May 2007 for headbutting Craig Stanley.
Matthew Gill is poised to become only the 10th Norfolk-born player to represent the Canaries at first team level in the past 25 years. The previous nine, in chronological order, were:
Peter Mendham: King's Lynn, 1978-86, 254 appearances, plus 13 as substitute, 29 goals
Dale Gordon: Caister, 1984-91, 248 (13) 43
Danny Mills: Norwich, 1995-98, 51 (22) 1
Adrian Coote: Belton, 1997-2001, 21 (39) 3
Danny Crow: Yarmouth, 2004-5, 0 (4) 0
Ryan Jarvis: Fakenham, 2003-8, 11 (27) 5
Rossi Jarvis: Fakenham, 2005-8, 7 (4) 0
Ian Henderson: Thetford, 2001-7, 31 (48) 6
Matthew Halliday: Norwich, 2005-8, 0 (1) 0
t Near misses include Chris Martin, Robert Eagle and Daryl Sutch who were all born in north Suffolk (Beccles, Leiston and Lowestoft respectively) and Chris Sutton, who was brought up in Norwich but was born in Nottingham.