With a rich history of appearances in the English top flight, Norwich City have often been the leading name for football in the East of England. The Canaries have often been in and out of the top flight during the Premier League era enduring in 6 different spells. Their best finish was in the inaugural Premier League season where they finished 3rd. Since then, Norwich have struggled to avoid relegation battles despite having some top names within their squad. But who would be included in an all-time Norwich Premier Leaguer XI?
GK: Bryan Gunn
There are few players that have been as popular at Carrow Road than Bryan Gunn. The Scottish keeper spent well over a decade with Norwich. Having joined from Aberdeen in 1986, Gunn was already their number one keeper when the first Premier League season came about in 1992. His consistency and drive made him a star for The Canaries and played in every top flight game they had until Norwich were relegated in 1995. His efforts in the 1992-93 season earned him Player of the Year that season and mark the second time he won the club’s top award. He left in 1998 to join Hibernian but is still associated to the club to this day and was a member of the club’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2002.
RB: Craig Fleming
Despite only playing one season in the Premier League, Craig Fleming still made his presence felt with The Canaries. Serving as the club captain for much of the early 2000s, Fleming led Norwich with fierce determination as they battled hard against relegation. Fleming would feature in every minute of that season including a famous 2-0 win over Manchester United in April 2005. This would arguably be the highlight of the season for Fleming who endured a decade-long run with Norwich that ended in 2007. Fleming retired just one year later and was added to the Norwich Hall of Fame shortly afterwards.
LB: Mark Bowen
A versatile player that could play in both defence and midfield, Mark Bowen added a real sense of calm whenever he was on the ball. The Welshman had excellent passing skills and could also make excellent talents given a real sense of solidarity at the back. It was why Bowen was an ever-present part of the early 1990s Norwich squad that briefly flirted with title success in the 1992-93 season. He could also threaten in the final third two as his five goals in the 1993-94 season showed his all-round strength. Bowen would leave Norwich in 1996 to join West Ham after over 320 appearances at Carrow Road.
CB: Ian Butterworth
Anchoring the club in defence for their impressive run during the 1990s, Ian Butterworth was a player that gave everything when out on the pitch. His physicality on the pitch easily put off attacking opponents but he maintained the calmness needed to lead a top-level side. Butterworth captained every Norwich game during their first Premier League stint until they were relegated in 1995. Butterworth would also end his career at that moment too due to lingering knee injuries. Having made 231 appearances for Norwich, Butterworth proved himself to be a loyal leader for the club at the height of their success.
CB: Sebastien Bassong
When Norwich were promoted to the Premier League in 2011, they were desperate for players laden with top-flight experience. That’s where the signing of Cameroon international Sebastien Bassong became a master-stroke. Strong in the air and excellent on the ball, Bassong was able to slot in anywhere in defence comfortably and help snuff out attacks with real ease. His presence in the squad helped Norwich stay in the top flight for three seasons including the 2012-13 season where he was named Player of the Year. Bassong remained with Norwich for seven seasons and it was only after another relegation from the Premier League in 2016 that Bassong departed the club moving to Peterborough in 2018.
CM: Wes Hoolahan
A livewire on the ball, Wes Hoolahan could use his pace and trickery to turn a game on its head in a heartbeat. Hoolahan had been at Carrow Road since 2008 but it was promotion to the Premier League in 2011 that really showcased his overall skillset. He proved this by scoring 12 goals in 4 top flight campaigns with The Canaries including captaining the side for several key wins in the 2011-12 season. His presence in the squad often brought about a positive result and it was a key factor in the Irishman making over 300 appearances altogether for the club. A true icon in the modern history of the club
CM: Ruel Fox
Whilst Norwich is traditionally arch-rivals to Ipswich, one of the club’s strongest servants rose from enemy territory. This would be dynamic midfielder Ruel Fox who was a key member of the 1990s squad that came close to winning the first ever Premier league title. His dynamic ball-carrying skills helped drive play forward and Fox was particularly impressive during the 1992-93 Premier League season. It would be these skills that saw Fox join Newcastle in 1994 as The Toon Army were rising to usurp Norwich as title challengers. It was a suitable move for the Montserrat international to continue his burgeoning career.
CM: Ian Crook
One of Norwich’s longest serving players, Ian Crook was never one to look out of place in the top flight. Despite never earning an international call-up, his driven nature and ability on the ball helped Norwich dominated in the middle of the park. It would be an integral reason for Norwich playing teams off the park and reaching third in the 1992-93 season. Crook remained with Norwich after their relegation in 1994 making over 410 appearances for the club. He would leave in 1997 to join Japanese side Sanfreece Hiroshima. He would later be added to Norwich’s Hall of Fame underlining just how well remembered his career is to this day by club fans.
FW: Grant Holt
A real powerhouse striker in his prime, Grant Holt showed that throwback strikers could thrive in the modern game. Holt’s powerful figure could hold off defenders in the box and this also made him an aerial threat when given space. It was this skillset that allowed him to slam home goal after goal when Norwich rejoined the top flight in 2011. After notching 15 goals in the 2011-12 season, he would bag another 8 the following season as The Canaries showed they could win a relegation battle. As Holt slowly found himself of the periphery at Carrow Road heading into the 2013-14 season, he would leave to Wigan. That was only after winning 3 Player of the Year awards at Norwich in 5 seasons and proving himself to be a modern legend at the club.
FW: Teemu Pukki
Norwich’s recent spells in the Premier League have barely been memorable but the form of Teemu Pukki was something fans could enjoy. The Finnish striker used his pace and guile on the ball to carve open opportunities and dispatch them when possible. His consistency in front of net was remarkable scoring 11 goals in both of his Premier League campaigns with Norwich. After scoring a hat-trick in his opening game, Pukki was named Premier League Player of the Month in August 2019. If you also add that he was Finnish Footballer of the Year and Player of the Year for Norwich during their ill-fated Premier League runs, it gave fans a little something to cheer about being back in the top flight,
FW: Chris Sutton
One of the liveliest players to emerge from Norwich’s youth squad, Chris Sutton made a real impact when he first debuted on the pitch. Sutton’s energy and pace proved difficult for defenders to handle allowing him to slam goals home with ease. This was no truer than in the 1993-94 season where Sutton slammed home 25 goals in 41 games. This form would earn him the club’s Player of the Year award but also a big money move to Blackburn in 1994. Sutton scored 33 goals for Norwich in the Premier League and is still a club record for total goals in the modern top flight. If you add to the fact that Sutton is also in the club’s Hall of Fame, he is still regarded as a fan favourite until this very day.