Norwich City's best XI since start of Premier League era

Chris Sutton - Norwich City

Here's a lineup of Norwich City's best players since they competed in the Premier League's inaugural 1992-93 season.

Norwich's Darren Eadie is challenged by Ipswich's Mauricio TariccoNorwich's Darren Eadie is challenged by Ipswich's Mauricio Taricco

Norwich have had an inconsistent existence since the birth of the Premier League in 1992. Initially one of the founding members of the English top flight, they dropped down to the old Division 1 in 1995 and would not return for almost a decade. 

Even since that momentous return under manager Nigel Worthington, when they were promoted as champions in 2004, Norwich's experiences in the Premier League has been tumultuous, as they became one of the top two divisions' yo-yo clubs.

So far they are yet to last more than three consecutive seasons in the highest echelon of English football.

This is a selection of Canaries' best players since 1992:

Bryan Gunn (GK)

Bryan Gunn - Norwich CityBryan Gunn - Norwich City

Many might remember Bryan Gunn best for his part in a bust-up against Arsenal in 1989, where the Gunners controversially took a late 4-3 lead courtesy of a penalty and an ensuing goal-line scramble, when he punched Tony Adams. Gunn was docked what now seems a relatively miniscule £800 in wages for the incident. Others might better remember him for a fantastic point blank save in the UEFA Cup against Bayern Munich.

An injury to the Scotsman in 1994 while the club sat seventh in the table played a major role in a staggering decline in form, which saw the Canaries win one of their last 17 games and relegated to Division 1. Gunn continued with the club until 1998, making 390 appearances. His second of two Player of the Year awards came in 1993 after Norwich's best ever season, finishing third in the first edition of the Premier League. Gunn is also in the club's Hall of Fame.

Gunn has since worked with Norwich in various backroom staff roles, as well as managing the first team for a short stint in 2009.

Ian Culverhouse (RB)

Norwich's Ian Culverhouse and West Ham's Steve JonesNorwich's Ian Culverhouse

One of several players to arrive in East Anglia via Tottenham Hotspur in the early 1990s, Ian Culverhouse is widely seen as the one of, if not the best, right backs to have played for the club. Like Gunn, he was involved in both the third place Premier League finish, and the UEFA Cup run. 

After helping the club to promotion in his first season in 1987, Culverhouse established himself as the first choice in his position until he left the club due to a contract dispute in 1994. His subsequent sale to Swindon Town caused outrage among the fans. Culverhouse's consistent performances in defence drew plaudits throughout his time as a Norwich player, which was recognised further in 1991 when he won Player of the Year. He was inaugurated into the Norwich City Hall of Fame.

Paul Lambert brought Culverhouse back to Carrow Road in 2012 as his assistant manager.

Jon Newsome (CB)

Norwich's Jon Newsome and Bolton's Jimmy PhillipsNorwich's Jon Newsome and Bolton's Jimmy Phillips

It is a testament to Newsome was that his move from Leeds to Norwich in 1994 made him the club's record signing at £1 million. That record would not be broken until 2005, when Dean Ashton joined for £3 million. Newsome's fee and reputation were inflated by his involvement in Leeds' 1992 league win in the final season before the introduction of the Premier League. 

Newsome earned a place in the hearts of the Canaries fans, having been named Norwich captain immediately after joining the club. His form was good enough to be voted the Player of the Season in an unfortunate campaign for which saw them relegated, despite Newsome's best efforts. 

Newsome stuck with Norwich and their bid to return to the Premier League at the earliest opportunity, relegation had taken its toll on the East Anglian outfit financially, and Newsome was sold to Sheffield Wednesday for £1.6 million - a move which angered supporters.

Craig Fleming (CB)

Julian Gray -  Birmingham City in action against Craig Fleming - Norwich CityCraig Fleming in action against Birmingham City's Julian Gray

Another defender who spent the majority of his career at Carrow Road. Fleming arrived from Oldham in 1997 and he later captained the team back to the Premier League for the first time since 1994.

The charge to take the Canaries back up to the top flight featured some rising stars who drew plenty of plaudits, including Darren Huckerby  - and one future England goalkeeper, Rob Green. But Fleming's valiant performances at the back were acknowledged by the fans with a Player of the Year in 2003-04. At the beginning of that season he had also been voted into the Norwich Hall of Fame, further recognition for his service to the club over ten years and 343 games. 

Mark Bowen (LB)

Norwich's Mark Bowen is chased by Ipswich's Chris KiwomyaNorwich's Mark Bowen is chased by Ipswich's Chris Kiwomya

It could be seen as a comment on recent Norwich defences that the defensive line in this XI is made up exclusively of players who played before 2007. However, it has much more to do with a good crop of players that blessed the defence in the 1990s purple patch. Mark Bowen played alongside all of the aforementioned players in this team, with the exception of Fleming. Like Fleming, he also played for the club for the best part of a decade. He won player of the year in 1990 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.

The Welshman was also one of many players in the period to have links with Spurs, winning the UEFA Cup while at White Hart Lane. His most famous moment in a Norwich shirt came in that same competition in 1993. While Gunn denied Bayern Munich at one end, Bowen scored the winner on an historic night for the club in Germany. 

He played in several positions while at Carrow Road - in defence, across midfield, upfront and even in goal in one game at Coventry and saved a penalty.

Ruel Fox (RM)

Norwich's Ruel Fox holds off Wimbledon's Brian McAllisterNorwich's Ruel Fox holds off Wimbledon's Brian McAllister

Norwich don't have much to like or thank their arch-rivals Ipswich for - except Ruel Fox. The tricky and pacey winger began his career at Carrow Road, and despite a few frustrating seasons working to establish himself, he eventually made his name with the Canaries. After 173 appearances between 1986 and 1994, he moved to Newcastle United and later Spurs. Although he never represented England in a full international, Fox played for England B before switching to play for Montserrat.

Ian Crook (CM)

Norwich's Ian Crook holds off Chelsea's Gavin PeacockNorwich's Ian Crook holds off Chelsea's Gavin Peacock

Only six players have played more games in the history of Norwich City than Ian Crook. Once again, Crook is one of several Norwich Hall of Famers that arrived from Spurs and already had a UEFA Cup medal from 1984. Over the course of 11 seasons in East Anglia, Crook helped Norwich to two top five finishes in the old Division One, before Norwich's best ever third place and of course, that UEFA Cup run. Crook's ability to pass a ball and deliver from dead ball situations made him an asset for the club during his career with the. During a 2001 FourFourTwo poll he was voted as one of the best players never to have played for England. 

Gary Holt (CM)

Gary Holt - Norwich CityGary Holt - Norwich City

Gary Holt was voted Player of the Year in his first season at the club, as the Scotsman quickly found his way into the fans' hearts. The Canaries lost in the play-off final to Birmingham that season, but three seasons later Holt was part of the division winning team that easily won promotion to the Premier League. What Holt lacked in skill and technical ability, he more than made up for in his work ethic and determination as a combative central midfielder with considerable stamina. 

Darren Huckerby (LM)

 

Sheffield Wednesday's Adam Bolder in action against Norwich City's Darren Huckerby (R)Sheffield Wednesday's Adam Bolder in action against Norwich City's Darren Huckerby (R)

It was a battle of two Darrens for this position, with Darren Eadie pushing Huckerby close, but the former Manchester City man got the nod over the injury prone Eadie. After impressing on a loan spell, Huckerby joined Norwich in 2003 and scored 14 goals in 2003-04 to fire them into the Premier League. He was narrowly beaten to Player of the Year by Craig Fleming that season, but won the award in 2004-05 and 2006-07. The former Coventry City man also received something a premature and surprising induction (as he was still playing) into the Hall of Fame in 2004. 

Craig Bellamy (ST)

Nartionwide Division 1 
	Pic : Matt Risby / Action Images 
	Norwich's Craig Bellamy in a race for the ball with Huddersfield's Rob EdwardsA young Craig Bellamy playing for Norwich City

Younger fans may not even be aware that Craig Bellamy actually started out at Norwich. The Welshman made his debut in 1997 at just 17 years of age, and played for the Canaries until 2000 - netting 32 goals in 84 appearances. The promise and attacking threat of this pacey young forward was clear for all to see. Gordon Strachan then paid £6 million to bring him to Coventry City, and replace Inter Milan bound Robbie Keane.

Of course Bellamy's greatest achievements came after leaving Carrow Road. He went on to become something of a divisive figure and journeyman by the end of his career, playing for Newcastle, Blackburn, Liverpool, Manchester City, West Ham and ending his career at his hometown club, Cardiff City.

Bellamy also played 78 times for Wales, and is one of a precious few British footballers to have played for Great Britain at an Olympic Games.

Chris Sutton (ST)

Chris Sutton - Norwich CityChris Sutton playing for Norwich City

Perhaps the most obvious choice of all. Chris Sutton, like Bellamy, started out in yellow and green. The centre half turned centre forward had his first season at Carrow Road in 1991-92, when Norwich reached the FA Cup semi-final. The season after he was a regular in the team and scored goals which briefly saw the Canaries top the Premier League, before finishing up in third behind Manchester United and Aston Villa.

In 1993-94 Suttin scored 25 goals in the Premier League, the most bagged by a Norwich Player since 1964. His tally wouldn't be beaten until Grant Holt netted 30 in League One in 2009-10. Sutton's figures of 43 goals in 127 games were all the more impressive considering he made many of his appearances as a substitute or playing at the back.

With Norwich's relegation in 1994 came Sutton's inevitable departure to Blackburn Rovers, where he scored another 47 goals before moving to Chelsea and Celtic, among others. His sale to the Lancashire club was an historic moment in English football, being the first player to move for £5 million when Kenny Dalglish brought him to Ewood Park. Sutton was part of the famous title winning side that season, forming a prolific partnership with Alan Shearer.

Sutton was voted player of the season in 1994 prior to his exit, and was inducted into the Norwich City Hall of Fame in 2003.

Subs: Rob Green, Dean Ashton, Iwan Roberts, Wes Hoolahan, Darren Eadie, John Polston, Jeremy Goss

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