Chris Hughton is a mentor for Norwich City captain Seb Bassong
09:52 22 February 2014
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Norwich City captain Seb Bassong has revealed he has an unbreakable bond with Chris Hughton.
The Canaries’ reigning player-of-the-year will have a key role again this weekend in trying to subdue Tottenham dangerman Emmanuel Adebayor alongside his new central defensive partner Joseph Yobo. Bassong admits it was the Hughton factor which convinced him to end a three-year stint at White Hart Lane and swap the prospect of Champions League football with Spurs for a survival scrap at the opposite end of the Premier League spectrum.
“He is the reason why I am here. He is the one who helped me to sign my contract at Norwich. I owe him a lot,” he said. “My relationship with the manager is a simple one. I try to be the best player I can and the best captain I can.
“We have known each other for a long time and he has seen me growing up. I think he first met me and worked with me when I was 20 and now I am 27 so sometimes he is joking with me about how I have changed and the things that I used to do back then. Some people try to say that he is almost like my dad and there is no doubt I respect him a lot.”
Hughton was a positive formative influence on the powerful centre back when he first arrived in England at Newcastle. But Bassong, speaking to the BBC’s Football Focus show, admitted he did not initially warm to the Canaries’ boss following their first meeting on Tyneside.
“I’ll never forget that first day at Newcastle. I was in the changing room on my own and he came in and told me to go outside and we would work on some defensive drills,” he said. “I was heading the ball and he was telling me to do it differently and then to work on my passing. He had me running, tackling and adapting to the demands of English football.
“I just wanted to finish the session, I was so tired, but he kept pushing me and at that moment I probably hated him but the bond is so strong between us, regardless of what happens football-wise I think we will always have that.”
City left-back Martin Olsson is likely to be deployed alongside both Bassong and Nigerian international Yobo, pictured right, against Spurs and the Swede backs Norwich’s experienced central defensive duo to handle the prolific Adebayor, who has now scored nine goals in 13 appearances since being brought back in from the cold by Tim Sherwood.
“Adebayor is a strong striker who is good at holding the ball up and he can also create chances for himself,” said Olsson. “He is in good form right now but I feel Yobo and Bassong are strong defenders and they can perform well together.
“I haven’t seen Tottenham play too much but I know they have good players and we just have to make it difficult for teams coming to Carrow Road for the rest of the season.”
• Yobo’s international coach, Stephen Keshi, has warned Norwich’s loan signing he must not let his standards drop if he wants to make the Super Eagles’ World Cup squad.
The Fenerbache defender has been recalled by Keshi for a friendly next month against Mexico in the USA after a one-year absence from the national set-up.
“He played well against Manchester City, which I watched but he must be consistent,” said Keshi. “We pray that he can be in good health because those are the attributes we want in all the players that will go to the World Cup for us.”