From footballing memories and teammates to holidays and food, what ranks as former City forward Darren Eadie’s Top Threes?
This interview, carried out by Andy Greeves, originally appeared in OTBC, our official award-winning matchday programme, for our home game against Eadie’s other former club’s – Leicester City – earlier this season.
Footballing memories growing up
- Supporting Tottenham Hotspur
The first-ever match I watched on television was Tottenham beating Anderlecht in the 1984 UEFA Cup Final and I became a Spurs fan after that.
- Favourite players
The Spurs team of the 1980s with the likes of Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle, Ossie Ardiles etc was fantastic. They were the players I really enjoyed watching as a youngster. Plus, there was something about the Spurs kit – the all-white in Europe especially – that I loved!
- Watching Bristol Rovers
My first trip to a football match was a Bristol derby. Rob Newman was playing for Bristol City back then. I went on to become Rob’s boot boy when I was at Norwich. The game I went to was at Bath City’s Twerton Park ground, which is where Bristol Rovers played home matches for a period of their history.
I remember standing on the terraces in those days and everyone surging forward when Rovers scored! I can’t remember the score that day, but I hope Rovers won!
Norwich City memories
- Academy days
I spent some time with Swindon Town and Southampton as a youngster, but it was Norwich who offered me the opportunity to sign schoolboy forms. What appealed to me about joining Norwich City was the opportunities they gave to young players in the first team.
The Norwich City Academy was an incredible education for me. The big thing for me was having that exposure to the first-team environment from an early age. We’d do things like lay the first-team kit out, clean their boots, clean the changing room etc. The aspiration was always to be in the first team changing room yourself to have that kind of thing done for you!
I remember my mum saying if I hadn’t have had football at a young age, I’d have probably been a bit of a tearaway! Football and the staff I came across at Norwich kept me in check.
I have to mention Gordon Bennett, who was the club’s Youth Development Officer when I joined Norwich. He was from the West Country like me and he’d drive me up to Norwich from my home in Chippenham to play matches on weekends when I started out at the club.
- Playing in Europe
I made my Norwich City first-team debut as a substitute in Norwich City’s first-ever European match – the UEFA Cup tie against Vitesse Arnhem [September 15, 1993]. It was an incredible moment for me, although I don’t think I appreciated that at the time. As a kid, you don’t overthink things… you just go out and play without any fear.
The 1993-94 season in Europe was incredible. A strong memory I have is standing in the tunnel at Carrow Road alongside Lothar Matthaus, who had won the World Cup only three years earlier, as we prepared to face Bayern Munich. I started alongside Chris Sutton that night and it was the realisation of a dream to be involved in a huge European match like that.
- The 1996-97 season
The 1996-97 season was a good one for me. I played centre-forward for a lot of that season, as well as out on the left-hand-side, and I was the club’s top goal scorer [with 17 goals in all competitions].
I’d have got even more goals that season if I’d been on penalty duties; Neil Adams, who took our penalties that season, only got a few goals less than me that season! I was named the club’s Player of the Season at the end of that campaign, which meant a lot to me.
Leicester City memories
- Playing under Martin O’Neill
My move from Norwich to Leicester came about pretty quickly back in 1999. I didn’t want to leave Norwich at the time, but the club was in a difficult position financially and there wasn’t really the option to stay.
Leicester was the nearest Premier League club to where I was living at the time and funnily enough, my dad is from Leicester and is a big Leicester City supporter. A major factor in me going there too was Martin O’Neill, a manager I had always respected.
Being Leicester’s record signing at that time was a real accolade. It showed the faith Martin O’Neill had in me. He was fantastic. Every player has particular managers that they enjoy working with and for me, Martin O’Neill and Mike Walker were the best managers for me because they were excellent man managers. They brought out the best in me.
- West Ham United v Leicester City, 1999
After playing outside of the topflight for a number of seasons, scoring in the Premier League [in a 1-0 win for Leicester at West Ham on August 23, 2000] once again was a fantastic feeling for me. The fact we won the game was all-important.
We were up against a really good West Ham team on the day with the likes of Paolo Di Canio, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole etc and Upton Park was a very tough away venue.
- Playing European football again
It was great playing in Europe again at Leicester [during the 2000-2001 season]. I had obviously experienced that during my time at Norwich and I had always hoped that I’d get the opportunity to do so again.
We didn’t go as far in the competition as we should have done in all honesty. We got knocked out by Red Star Belgrade; we almost got bullied out of the tie. That was a bit of a surprise as we were a big, strong, physical team.
I have fond memories of Leicester. The fans there were incredible and the staff behind the scenes were great; the players were looked after really well. The only disappointment was the injuries I suffered there that scuppered my career.
- Norwich City v Ipswich Town, 1997
My goal in the East Anglian derby [in a 2-1 win over Ipswich Town at Carrow Road] where I took the ball around Richard Wright before scoring from a tight angle with my right-foot would definitely be in my top three. It’s the goal I remember most from my career.
- Norwich City v Sunderland, 1998
I scored a goal against Sunderland from quite near the half-way line. From a technical point of view, that was one of the best goals I scored during my career.
- Norwich City v Crewe Alexandra, 1999
I scored a goal against Crewe on a return from injury, having been out for a number of months. We were drawing 1-1 at the time and I came on as a substitute to score the winner.
- Norwich City v Vitesse Arnhem, 1993
Making my professional debut for Norwich against Vitesse Arnhem was a huge moment in my career. It showed the faith Mike Walker had in the young players when he was manager, to throw me into a big game like that.
Being on the bench for the away game at Bayern Munich and then starting in the home game is another massive memory.
- Queens Park Rangers v Norwich City, 1993
I scored on my Premier League debut against Queens Park Rangers away [in a 2-2 draw on September 18, 1993]. That was a huge moment in my career. To make your Premier League debut and score as an 18-year-old was unbelievable.
I remember the goal. Ian Crook crossed the ball into the box, Chris Sutton flicked the ball on around the penalty spot, and I was able to get to the ball at the far post and volley it in.
- Norwich City v Ipswich Town, 1997
I was very fortunate to have a good record in the East Anglian derby and I was rarely on the losing side. I really enjoyed the win over Ipswich when I scored the goal I described earlier at Carrow Road.
- Paul Gascoigne
I was fortunate to be included in the England senior squad in 1997 and I got to train with some of the best players in the game at that time – Paul Gascoigne, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ian Wright, Alan Shearer; the list goes on.
It was incredible seeing the ability Gazza had close-up. He could literally do anything with a football. I played against him a number of times towards the end of his career and he was still unbelievable. He was one of those players that knew exactly what he was going to do with the ball before he’d even received it.
- David Beckham
Off the pitch, David was a quiet lad who largely kept himself to himself. He had this aura about him on and off the pitch though. He knew what he was good at and he managed himself expertly.
He was very disciplined for an individual that could have quite easily gone off the rails considering the attention that has always been on him. He was the ultimate professional who knew what career he wanted, and he set about achieving it.
- Paul Scholes
Like Beckham, Scholes was a quiet lad off the pitch; someone who let his football do the talking for sure. Everything he did was absolute quality. He was on another level to the vast majority of footballers I came across during my career. His passing, his movement, his finishing – he was different class.
- Gary Neville
Gary Neville was the toughest opponent I came up against during my career without any doubt. He was brilliant going forward and his defensive qualities were even better. He was tough; horrible to play against but fair all at the same time.
- Eric Cantona
I remember coming up against Eric Cantona and immediately feeling intimidated! Aside from his obvious qualities as a player, he had such self-confidence; an assurance in himself that made you feel, as an opponent, ‘we’re going to get beaten today lads!’
- Patrick Viera
I was lucky enough to play against Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ team [of 2003-04]. That was an incredible team, full of world-class players like Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp etc.
If I had to name one standout name from that team, it might be Patrick Vieira for the drive he offered in midfield. He was so tall and strong and it was difficult to get anywhere near him!
- United States
I love the United States. Probably my best holiday ever was visiting the West Coast of America a few years ago. We flew into Los Angeles and we drove along the coast to Santa Monica, Monterey, San Francisco etc.
Italy is somewhere I’ve had the fortune of visiting on a number of occasions. I’ve been to Sardinia a couple of times which is lovely, and I spent my honeymoon around Lake Como.
I’m a big fan of the Greek islands, Santorini especially. Greece has always struck me as being a very friendly place. There is something about the look of the place, the white-wash buildings, the golden sandy beaches etc, which is very impressive.
I like a little bit of spice on my pizza, so I’d probably have jalapenos as a topping and some mushrooms too.
- Burger and chips
I do love a takeaway from a particularly well-known fast-food restaurant!
- Steak and skinny fries
You can’t beat a good steak. I like it done medium rare with skinny fries on the side and an egg on top.