As the pre-season of the 2021-2022 campaign nears, we’re getting to know Norwich City Academy’s players in a bit more detail!
First up is one of City’s longest-serving players and midfielder, Nelson Khumbeni. You can hear from the man himself below or take a look at our transcription of everything you need to know about the young player!
How long have you been at Norwich and what’s your story behind joining the club?
NK: “I’ve been at Norwich since Under-9s, but officially Under-10s, so it’s been a while! Previously, I was with a team called … wanderers, local to where I live. I was there with the age group above and I was playing with them. It got to a point where I wasn’t able to play anymore because I was too young, and then I got picked up by Norwich on trial. I had a six-week trial period and never looked back after getting in.”
What position do you play and how would you describe yourself as a player?
NK: “I’m a centre midfielder. I started off as a left-winger, went to a striker with Greg Crane in U9s or U10s. At the end of the U10s season, I asked Adrian Forbes to move into a centre midfield role to just get involved in that situation and style of play.”
“I’d like to say I’m an intelligent midfielder because I’m not the quickest. I like to use my body well in situations and be spatially aware of what’s around me and the players around me. I’m more of a quick mover of the ball, quick one and two touches and get other players involved in front of the defence.”
Who have you known the longest at the club?
NK: “I’ve known Saxon Earley, Sam Blair, back in U10s. The whole group has probably been together since Under-11s or Under-12s.
What is your biggest achievement to date at the club?
NK: “I think getting my scholarship would be one of the main ones because I was one of the last to have the decision go through. To be one of the first in the academy out of our group and then get the decision later than everyone else, putting that hard work in the 14s, 15s and 16s seasons paid off.”
What has been your favourite game this season?
NK: “My favourite game this season has probably been Newport County, where we won 5-0 and in the EFL Trophy as well. Initially, I wasn’t thinking I’d even come on, but when one our players went down injured, I got the call-up and played well. It was a good performance overall from the team.”
What team did you support growing up?
NK: “For me because I’ve lived here for so, so long and even when I was young it would be Norwich. It’s my first club by heart.”
Who is your favourite player of all time?
NK: “If it was anyone without my position, I’d have to say Ronaldinho. What he did on the ball and how he made the pitch and the game look like it was played back in Brazil like Samba, that would be him. If it was someone in my position, I’d have to say Makelele. The way he played, his intelligence, his tenacity, every time the way he played when he stepped on the pitch.”
What would your dream job be outside of football?
NK: “I think for me, it would be more into property investment. That’s a dual career I’d look into going to.”
What is your signature dish?
NK: “I think I’m a top chef! I’d say probably rice and peas with chicken and a bit of salad on the side. It has to be marinaded for a while with peri-peri sauce, a bit of jerk seasoning, just so the flavours are in, then put it in the grill and oven after.”