From Cambridge to the Copacabana?

Posted by Paddy Davitt

John Ruddy PA PhotosJohn Ruddy has made one appearance for England.

In a week of dire news for Norwich City, John Ruddy's contract extension provides some positivity around Carrow Road.

The Canaries have lurched from one trough to another in recent days. A goalless Premier League stalemate at home to newly promoted Cardiff City did nothing to extricate Chris Hughton's men from the darkest recesses of the table or alleviate the mounting stress on the manager. Norwich then crashed out of the Capital One Cup at Manchester United on a night marred by a sickening injury to Scottish international Robert Snodgrass, which fortunately was limited to concussion after he was stretchered away in a neck brace.

England Under-21 starlet Nathan Redmond also made a second-half injury exit in what was later confirmed as a muscle problem centred on his left hip region. Both are major doubts for a swift return to the north-west and the rather daunting prospect of trying to halt a Manchester City side keen to respond after their late reverse at Stamford Bridge. Throw in an FA charge for failing to control their players in the aftermath of Leroy Fer's controversial disallowed goal against the Bluebirds and then news that midfield enforcer Alex Tettey is out "for several weeks" with ankle ligament damage that may require surgery and one begins to construct a picture of a club in crisis.

The underlying mood, however, at Norwich's training ground on Thursday was remarkably upbeat. Hughton and club captain Russell Martin spoke with a confidence that belies their lowly league status and current injury roll call. Ruddy's decision to pledge his future to Carrow Road until at least the summer of 2017 was a genuine cause for celebration.

The England international was courted by Chelsea in the summer as Jose Mourinho sought experienced backup to Petr Cech, but Norwich held firm. Ruddy admitted he was flattered by such interest but the 27-year-old remains indebted to the Canaries for rescuing a career that had stalled at Everton, where he was loaned out to eight different clubs during those wilderness years.

Paul Lambert offered an escape route and Ruddy's path converged with Norwich's stellar rise from the Football League. The former Cambridge United trainee's consistent displays in the Premier League have now paved the way to international honours and Ruddy may well get the chance to lay down an early marker for next summer's World Cup finals in England's upcoming friendlies.

Ruddy admitted, after penning his new Norwich deal, none of that would have been possible without Norwich's faith in his ability. The goalkeeper's willingness to commit is a major boost for a club that must feel the fates are conspiring at present. One of the Canaries' most valuable commodities is convinced, despite the short-term turbulence, that he is at a club moving forward, one that has helped establish him among the front rank of domestic custodians and given him a stage to force his way into Roy Hodgson's final cut for Brazil. From Cambridge to the Copacabana has a rather surreal ring to it. But that is Ruddy's career trajectory thus far.


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