In the latest edition of his monthly blog, Senior Club Journalist Ben Mouncer looks at why Alex Tettey is such a popular figure.
‘Tetteymania’. Definition: an obsessional enthusiasm regarding Norwich City’s Alex Tettey.
Thursday’s press conference was the pretext to another outbreak of this phenomenon across the internet as our popular midfielder sat in front of the cameras to discuss, among a range of topics, Sunday’s game against Liverpool.
There are normal media briefings and then there’s an Alex Tettey media briefing.
Through a mix of off-the-cuff humour and plain honesty, the Norwegian’s musings are never irrelevant but always fun, formed by intelligent consideration yet delivered with a hint of schoolboy cheekiness.
His words make great copy, so journalists and readers alike love him. It’s a cliché, but you never do quite know what pearls Alex is going to come out with next. It turns a regular press conference into a small work of theatre.
Watching his full performance from start to finish on Canaries Player HD is the best way to understand what I’m saying, but nevertheless I’ve picked out some of the highlights here:
When asked how good Wes Hoolahan is...
“I’ve been told not to shoot but I’m still going to shoot! It’s funny when you hear the crowd saying ‘SHOOT’ but when I have done the ball doesn’t go the way I want. I’ll do my best but in the games I’m the last man standing. If everyone is down, I should stand.”
On scoring goals…
“Really? That’s not a good stat! We need to start running! (followed by laughter) We should be running more than any team in the league!”
When told the stat that Norwich have covered the least distance in the Premier League this season…
“We are very happy he is not at Liverpool right now. It’s good that they’ve sold him because every time we played against them he scored three or four goals. If you took those goals away, maybe they would have only scored one, and maybe we’d have scored two!”
On Luis Suarez…
“He’s very good, so good that I don’t want to be up against him in training! It’s good anyway to train with a player like that because Liverpool have a similar player in Coutinho. He’s been very good for us.”
It’s not just his infectious personality that has turned Tettey, who signed from French side Rennes in the summer of 2012, into a crowd favourite; his way of playing lends itself to that too.
Every fan can relate to his combative, high-energy style. His ability to break up the play is particularly outstanding. His selflessness is endearing, and even his bookings are greeted with a warm acceptance.
City’s more creative exponents deservedly adorned the back pages after the win over Bournemouth but Tettey was there too, providing the impregnable screen in front of his defence that our opponents, having watched the 90 minutes back, will have craved themselves.
It’s a skillset that his manager, as a not-long retired midfield enforcer himself, appreciates. Alex Neil has picked his namesake to start in every Premier League match so far. When the stakes are high, he’s in the team.
Alex Tettey certainly isn’t a Norwich City legend yet but using the 21st century definition of the word, he very much is a ‘legend’.
Tettey the ‘ledge’: the tireless performer, the media personality, the people’s footballer. And without doubt one of our invaluable assets.