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City players meet American fans at open training session

17 November 2018

Canary fans from across America travelled to watch and meet the Norwich City squad at an open training session.

The team have been training at the Al Lang Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Rowdies American soccer team, and after some hard work on the pitch the players met with fans to sign autographs and have photos taken.

Jeff Uyak made the seven-hour trip from Charleston to see the team.

He said: “We moved to England when I was 14 and some friends of mine were Norwich fans and green is my favourite colour. The first time I saw them play at Carrow Road the atmosphere was unbelievable and I had never experienced an event like that – such a small place but such a live atmosphere and it just stuck with me. We lived in England for four years and I only saw them play four or five times as it was hard to get there as a student, but I have kept up with them.

“When the training session turned out to be in the middle of the week it didn’t matter at all, I knew I was coming and got the time off work. The funniest thing is I had to tell my wife a couple of times because she kept asking why I wanted to go when they were not playing a game. But I haven’t been back to England for almost 30 years so the chance to see the Canaries again was too good to miss.

“When I see the highlights and see the quick passes and the tight possession, it’s amazing to see that they are able to do that because they train so hard and you can see it translate on the pitch on matchdays.

“My mission in coming down here as well was to get a Tampa Bay Rowdies shirt signed and I’m going to send it back with the Club to donate to the Community Sports Foundation and the proceeds will go towards building The Nest. When I saw that project launch I thought it was something I could do to help.”

Lee Wetteland made the trip from Orlando with his nine-year-old son Riley. Originally from Norfolk, Lee said he was delighted to see his team at the top of the league.

“I’ve supported Norwich since I was young and continued when I moved to America,” he said. “It’s great to come down here to see the lads and show a bit of support.

“It was nice to get a few signatures and congratulate them on how well they have done so far and hopefully they can keep it up.”

Fellow former Norfolk resident Colin Eke moved to Tampa in 2003 for work but has never forgotten his love for the Club.

“I’ve been a Norwich fan since my father took me to my first game back in 1960 at four-years-old,” he said.

“I’m coming back in December to watch the Bristol City game and have a holiday. I go back to England every two years and try to get as many games in as I can.

“I watch as many games as I can from here and then the highlights the next day as well and you get a feel for the atmosphere. But there is nothing like being here and I’m so surprised to have them here and to be top at the moment as well is brilliant."

He added: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard the team was coming, and it has really made my year! I’ve met all the players and got their signed cards and I didn’t realise how tall some of them are.”

Rowdies fan Steven Connell, from Sarasota, said it was the yellow and green colours which originally attracted him to the team.

“I’m a fan of Norwich City and also a fan of the Tampa Bay Rowdies and I’m a season ticket holder here, so I got to see my second-favourite team at my favourite team’s stadium,” he said.  

“I started out liking them because of the colours, but then I learned about the team and Delia Smith as the owner and I found it was a very community orientated Club and it just fit my personality.

“It has been a lot of fun watching the team recently and exciting even just following updates on my phone when it’s another goal, another goal. I love following the team and the other fan sites and watching videos and then you get to feel a part of it even though you are not close to it.”


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