Desperate to play for the Canaries, but not for Roeder
PUBLISHED: 09:14 28 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:19 28 September 2017
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Simon Lappin has spoken for the first time about his relationship with Glenn Roeder, accusing the former manager of "trying to break me".
Lappin, 34, who is back living in Norfolk, spent six years at Carrow Road after joining Norwich in January 2007. He was a fans’ favourite, but, in a new book, he reveals the depth of his despair when Roeder ostracised him for more than a year.
Writing in Tales From The City volume three, Lappin says: “In November, 2007, we lost 3-0 at Plymouth.
“I was dropped for the next game, and when we went in for training, one of the coaches pulled a few of the lads and told them they had to go and train with the youth team. I was one of them. My world caved in.
“Some people think, ‘Oh, he’s happy just picking up his money and doesn’t care about not playing’. But that was one million per cent untrue. There was talk of going to other clubs for the same money but I had only been at Norwich for a year and I just didn’t want to quit on a club I really liked.
“I went to Motherwell for four months on loan and scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Celtic, but when the loan ended I said, ‘I want to go back to Norwich’.
“Mr Roeder didn’t seem overjoyed to have me back. He called me in and said: ‘You are free to leave’. But I told him that I hadn’t worked all those years to get the chance of playing at this level in England just to walk away.
“Training with the kids was a bleak time. One day at home it all got to me, and there were a few tears shed.
“On one occasion I was called over to the first team and told to be an opposition defender. I was supposed to be passive: to take up position and not try to get to the ball. The manager was showing the first team what he wanted. He came and started backing into me, as if he was the striker. So when the ball came in, instead of letting it go in behind me, as I was supposed to, I stepped in and cleared it into the car park. He had an absolute rage. I allowed myself a cheeky smile.
“But results weren’t going very well and if he had picked me, I would have played. Of course I would. I was desperate to play for Norwich. But not for him.
“Eventually, in January 2009, he put me on the bench for an FA Cup game at Charlton. It was the first time since that defeat at Plymouth that I’d been on the match-day team-sheet: 419 days.
“Of the list of players that had been told to train with the kids all those months ago, I was the only one still there.
“Chrissy Martin and Michael Spillane had gone to Luton on long loans and the rest had left. I believe the manager had tried to break me. But he sure as hell didn’t succeed.
“We drew at Charlton but lost the replay and Roeder was dismissed the next day. Selfish or not, I remember thinking, ‘the nightmare is over at last’.
“Bryan Gunn was placed in charge. He told me, ‘Right. You will get a chance to show me you should be in my team.’ He kept his word and I got back in the team, after 16 months out.
“I’ll always be extremely grateful to Gunny – he rescued my Norwich career twice: by bringing me back into the fold and then giving me a new deal when my contract ran out.”
Lappin, now 34, is without a club after rupturing his Achilles tendon last season while playing for York City in football’s sixth tier. He is studying to become an airline pilot.
Mick Dennis, editor of the Tales From The City books, began his career with the Eastern Daily Press.
The third volume in the series will be published on Wednesday, October 4, and the launch event is at Carrow Road that night. Dale Gordon, Ken Brown, Terry Allcock and Simon Lappin will be among guests interviewed by Chris Goreham of BBC Radio Norfolk.
Tickets for the launch include a free copy of the book and can be obtained from Delia’s Canary Catering, and by typing this into an internet browser – bit.ly/TFTC3LIVE
If you cannot attend the launch, you can pre-order the book by putting this link into your browser bit.ly/TFTC3PRE
Dennis said: “With the Tales series, I set out to produce books that I would want to read but the real test has been making them good enough to win the approval of another Norwich supporter: my wife!”