Under-23s full-back Caleb Richards has become the first player to join the Tampa Bay Rowdies on loan from Norwich City following the announcement of a transatlantic partnership between the two clubs.
As well as joining the Rowdies until their end of the USL Championship season, Richards has signed a new contract at the Canaries until June 2021, with the option of a further year.
Richards, 20, joined City in the summer from Blackpool and has made 18 appearances for the Development Squad so far this season.
He recently returned to City after a short loan spell with National League North side FC United of Manchester, playing seven games for them.
Speaking to canaries.co.uk, Richards said: “I have loved my experience at Norwich so far and I think I have progressed well in my time here.
“It means a lot to have been given a new contract, especially when I was playing away, and they watched nearly every game.
“It’s good to know that they are watching my progression and they have rewarded me for doing well.”
The Rowdies play in the second tier of American professional soccer and Richards cannot wait to develop and thrive in a new environment.
“I can’t wait to get started with the Rowdies,” he continued. “It will be another step up and hopefully I progress further.
“The weather and the surroundings are unreal, and the club is set up very professionally with good facilities.
“It doesn’t affect me being away as Norwich is four hours away from home for me anyway, so I feel like I have been eased into living away.
“I can’t wait to start the season and hopefully be part of a successful season.
“The team has been very welcoming and they all live close, so they have been giving me lifts places and helping me to settle in.”
Academy Manager Steve Weaver added: “Going abroad and living in America is a big adventure for Caleb and playing in front of crowds over there will heighten his experience not only as footballer but it will also be a good experience for growing up.
“Tampa is the next stage for his development, and I think when the opportunity came up it was one that we couldn’t turn down. Caleb has got the right attributes to go and succeed.
“I know the Head Coach Neill because I worked at Wolves at the same time he was playing there, and we were fortunate to get promoted from the Championship to the Premier League that season and Neill was a big part of that squad.
“He’s a great lad and a thorough coach and I think with him and Martin Paterson [Rowdies assistant coach] it will be really beneficial to Caleb and Norwich City and hopefully his performances will benefit the Rowdies over the season.”
Please note that the move is subject to international clearance.
To read more on the new, groundbreaking partnership between Norwich City and Tampa Bay Rowdies, click HERE.