Norwich City top 100 appearances: Gary Holt (78)
We continue our look through the top 100 players in Norwich City’s appearance list, with Paddy Davitt recalling the all-action Gary Holt.
78 Gary Holt 182 appearances/3 goals
Few of the modern day players could match Gary Holt’s back story.
Holt was plucked from the Army Catering Corps and deposited at former European Cup winners Celtic to begin a journey that led him to the Premier League with Norwich City.
Nigel Worthington reportedly said this upon Holt’s departure in 2005, at the end of a brief top flight stay.
“The £135,000 we spent on Gary Holt is probably one of the best value for money signings this club has made in recent years.”
Few would surely argue in the current transfer market. Holt was a force of nature in the centre of City’s midfield. His all-action displays and voracious appetite for graft endeared him to supporters. His former international boss, Craig Brown, described Holt as a player who would put 90 minutes of work into 15. Holt took time to adjust to English football after a hugely successful stint with Kilmarnock. His swansong north of the border brought him into conflict with another prominent figure from the Canaries’ past. Celtic’s Chris Sutton was sent off for what was reportedly described as a ‘late challenge’ on Holt in the Bhoys’ 3-0 League Cup win in 2001.
His first full season at Norwich ended in play-off heartache at Cardiff in 2002, but a priceless consolation of being crowned player-of-the-year, for the man aptly labelled ‘Three Lungs’.
“Words can’t describe it,” was Holt’s reaction when he emerged top of the pile through the fan vote. “I had a sticky spell when I came here last season and it took me a while to settle. I went home, had a talk with my wife and it ironed out a few things for me.”
Holt was already an indispensable cog in Worthington’s plan to get to the Premier League. The Scottish international missed one game the following season and was an integral part of the Division One title-winning success in 2003/04.
Injury restricted the midfielder to 21 starts in the big time but the Scot was a first half substitute in that ill-fated final day disaster at Fulham. A desperate afternoon for so many reasons; notably, Holt’s final outing in a City shirt. A swap deal involving Matthieu Louis-Jean deposited him at Nottingham Forest. But that was not the end of his Norwich story. Holt returned to the club, first as an academy coach and then part of Alex Neil’s backroom team, to lead the club back to the Promised Land in 2015.
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