Sunday proved to be a day to savour for Norwich City captain Russell Martin. The Scotland international capped off a memorable afternoon by delicately lobbing the ball over the stranded Simon Mignolet to give the Canaries an unlikely share of the spoils against Liverpool at Anfield.
In fact, his goal on Merseyside wasn’t even the most joyous aspect of his day. Martin travelled with his team-mates to Liverpool on Saturday, only to be told of his wife’s labour in the evening. Following a four hour drive back to Norwich, the defender arrived at the hospital at 4am, and he was proudly present to see his baby son born. Amazingly there was still time for Martin to fly back to Liverpool and play the full 90 minutes.
Sleep deprivation wasn’t a factor, as he proved by netting the equaliser and helping his fellow defenders shut out Liverpool to give Norwich a very creditable point.
In a generation where footballers are all too often criticised for the way they conduct themselves outside of the game, it is refreshing to see a player portrayed in a positive light.
Affectionately known as ‘the Norfolk Cafu’ by the club’s supporters, Martin has been the consummate professional ever since he joined the club from Peterborough United in 2009. Since his arrival, Martin has endeared himself to fans with industrious displays and was instrumental as the Canaries enjoyed a double promotion up to the Premier League during his first two seasons with the club.
International recognition followed as the Brighton born defender was called up to the Scotland national team in 2011, and he has since cemented himself at the heart of the Tartan Army’s backline.
Having been made club captain in 2013, Martin has gone onto experience relegation and promotion in his two years as skipper, with the impressive return to the Premier League at the first attempt achieved as he marshalled the defence.
Under new boss Alex Neil, the Canaries are playing with a freedom, refusing to be overawed by the prospect of playing the big teams and setting out to win every game regardless of their opponent.
Norwich’s skipper epitomises their style of play: full-blooded with the ability to play enterprising football. Martin is currently top of the Norfolk side’s goalscoring chart this season, scoring three goals in his opening six fixtures.
Martin transition from his initial berth at right-back to a permanent centre-half over the last couple of seasons hasn’t been without it’s hiccups, but the City defender is continuing to prove that he is adept at this level and has made the step up look seamless.
It is coming up to six years since Martin made his debut and the progress he has made in that time is remarkable. Staying after Norwich’s relegation in 2014 is testament to the loyalty shown by the defender who has shown no signs of discontent at Carrow Road.
With plenty more gruelling assignments in store for Norwich this season, it is imperative that they show resilience if they are intending to establish themselves in the Premier League. And in club captain Russell Martin, they possess a leader who will continue to devote himself to the cause and endeavour to maintain the positive harmony that has engulfed Carrow Road in 2015.