Date of birth
Every team needs leaders, and club captain Grant Hanley is certainly one of those at Norwich City.
Leadership has been a quality of Hanley’s throughout his football career since he first wore the armband for Blackburn Rovers Under-18s.
The formative years
2008 - 2016: Having already gained a lot of experience at youth level across spells at Queen of the South, Crewe Alexandra and Rangers, Hanley joins Blackburn Rovers’ academy aged 16 in 2008. His important role in the Under-18s quickly becomes apparent, Hanley appointed captain at centre-back before being promoted to the first team for his Premier League debut in 2010. The turn of a new decade is a significant year for Hanley, who is also given the captain’s armband for Scotland’s Under-19s.
One of the highlights of Hanley’s Rovers career occurs in 2011. 31 December that year was a New Year’s Eve to remember, as Hanley steps up to score the winning goal in a 3-2 win against local rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Hanley eventually becomes captain of the first team in 2014 following the departure of centre-back partner Scott Dann to Crystal Palace. Featuring in the majority of Blackburn’s games from 2011-12 through to 2015-16 across the Premier League and Championship, Hanley goes on to make a total of 200 appearances in all competitions (not to mention a few handfuls for Scotland) before moving on after eight years of service.
2016 - 2017: A long spell at Blackburn is followed by a brief, but successful, one at Newcastle United. While Hanley only plays ten league games for the Toon, Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle go on to win the Championship and get promoted back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The Norwich City years
2017 - Present: Hanley joins Norwich ahead of the 2017-18 Championship season and goes on to play 32 games in the league, mixing and matching with Christoph Zimmermann and Timm Klose under Daniel Farke. The standout moment comes in an East Anglian Derby at Carrow Road. 1-0 down with seconds to spare, Hanley defies his stereotypical centre-back characteristics to dart over to the right wing and keep the ball in play before crossing accurately for Klose to head in the late equaliser against Ipswich Town.
A recurring theme, Hanley becomes club captain for Norwich ahead of the 2018-19 season when Russell Martin departs NR1. Injury means that Hanley features less prominently in the Canaries’ promotion winning campaign, Zimmermann and Klose the regulars in defence with Ben Godfrey breaking through.
2019-20 sees Norwich endure an injury crisis, particularly in defence, throughout the season, but Hanley manages to make 18 appearances in all competitions and shows his leadership traits off the pitch with footballers responding to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.