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Darren Huckerby

Darren Huckerby
Norwich Career: 2003-2008 (203 appearances, 48 goals) 2015-17
Current Club:
Date of Birth: 23/4/1976 (Nottingham)
Nationality: English


Norwich manager Nigel Worthington added his second loan signing within a week on Monday 8th September when he announced that Manchester City striker Darren Huckerby had joined the Canaries to help ease their striker crisis (David Nielsen's return to Denmark, Zema Abbey's season-long injury, short-term injuries to Iwan Roberts and Mark Rivers and the inability of the Norwich strikers to score in their first six games of the season). Huckberby made his debut in the 2-0 defeat of Burnley on September 13th 2003 alongside fellow new boys Peter Crouch and Kevin Harper.

Darren Huckerby started his career at Lincoln City and it wasn't long before the pacey striker was attracting the attention of a number of top flight clubs, with Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan paying £500,000 for teenage prodigy in November, 1995. He had made 31 appearances for the Red Imps scoring 7 goals.

Darren never settled in Tyneside and a year later he was on his way to Coventry for £1m after making just two substitute appearances for the Magpies. He had spent a loan period with Millwall during his Newcastle period where he made 6 appearances scoring three goals. The move to Highfield Road suited Huckerby down to the ground and, over a three-year period, he re-established himself as one the brightest young prospects in the country, scoring 34 times in 109 appearances for an unfashionable side. Huckerby forged a reputation as the scorer of some fantastically brilliant virtuoso goals, which led for calls for his inclusion in England's France 1998 squad. He didn't make the plane to France, but has represented England B and the U21

With his star once again shining brightly the Nottingham-born frontman promptly earned another big money transfer, this time to Leeds United who forked out a cool £4m for his services before the start of the 1999-2000 season. Once again he found it difficult to make his mark at a big club. Huckerby faced a tough fight for a first team place at Elland Road with the likes of Viduka, Smith, Kewell and Bridges ahead of him. He managed 57 appearances for the Yorkshire giants, but only 14 of them were starts, and with just six goals to his name it came as no great surprise when a £3m bid for his services from a struggling Manchester City side was accepted at the end of 2000.

He couldn't save City from the drop, but quickly proved himself a real handful at a lower level, scoring 26 times as Keegan's side made it back to the Premiership at the first attempt. In 2002/03 he found himself in and out of the side following the big money arrivals of Nicolas Anelka and Robbie Fowler and enjoyed his most profitable spell of the campaign in his home town of Nottingham. During a three-month loan spell with Forest, he scored five goals in 11 appearances, including one in the 4-0 thrashing of the Canaries back in March, and would probably have stayed put had Forest managed to make it through the Division One play-offs. As a Division One outfit, Forest could not afford him and he returned to Manchester.

He made just one appearance in the opening weeks of the 2003/04 season (the UEFA Cup clash with TNS). Huckerby is understood to have rejected loan moves to both Celtic and Wolves ahead of the August 31st transfer deadline for Scottish and Premier League clubs in the hope of continuing his career at the City of Manchester Stadium. The arrival of Steve McManaman has found the former Coventry City and Leeds United striker falling further down the pecking order and a little, smooth Irish charm from the Nigel Worthington appears to have won Huckerby round.

Huckerby's form for the Canaries, including two goals, in September 2003 earned him the Division One player of the month award. Whilst his form has made the Norwich fans desire to sign him on a permanent basis, they don't like the media' suggestions that as part of the deal, Robert Green would replace David Seaman at Manchester City. Norwich might also face competition from Leicester who are said to be viewing Huckerby as a replacement for Les Ferdinand. The Sunday People suggested on 2nd November 2003 that Wigan might also swoop for Huckerby. WBA were also linked with Huckerby but were similar to Norwich in that they didn't benefit from Huckerby's agent's comments on 4th November 2003 that Huckerby is a Premiership class player with Premiership aspirations and wage demands. Thus he would not wish to join a club like Norwich unless they could guarantee Premiership football. Huckerby later denounced his agent stating he was very happy at Carrow Road. Other clubs to be linked with Huckerby throughout November 2003 included Notts Forest, West Bromwich Albion, Millwall and Sheffield United, whose manager Neil Warnock officially stated his interest.

Darren returned to Manchester City on 13th December 2003 following Norwich's clash with Cardiff City. The Canaries won 4-1 and Huckerby showed the Carrow Road crowd what they would be missing as he scored twice (although the second was accredited to a Tony Vidmar own goal) and set up another. A stunning performance and a player who will be much missed by Norwich City.

On 16th December, West Brom had a bid accepted for Huckerby's services. Immediately Norwich also made a bid, around £750,000 which was also accepted by Man City. Darren rejected West Brom's offer and decided not to travel to the Hawthorns to discuss terms. On Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd, he came to Carrow Road to discuss terms. To the horror of Norwich fans, a deal could not be agreed despite Norwich offering to make Huckerby their best ever paid player. On Christmas Eve, the deal appeared to be dead with Huckerby suggesting that Norwich didn't really want him that much..

A late Christmas present was delivered when Huckerby was presented to the Norwich crowd for the Boxing Day clash with Notts Forest. He signed that day for £750,000 and made his second Norwich debut on January 3rd 2004 in the 3-1 FA Cup defeat at Everton.

Seen by most as the main reason why Norwich won promotion to the Premiership in 2003/4, he was surprisingly missing from the PFA Division One Team of the Year. However he was selected as the PFA Fans' Player of the Year for Division One.

In January 2005, Darren was linked by some sections of the media with a transfer to Liverpool but he denied it stating he intended to see out his contract at Carrow Road. In June 2005, he was linked wth a reunion with his former Coventry manager Gordon Strachan now in charge at Celtic. A report in The League Paper on 11th December 2005 suggested that Hull manager Peter Taylor would be given £1million to spend in the January 2006 transfer window, and that Huckerby was at the top of his shopping list.

In March 2006, football magazine Four Four Two listed Huckerby just outside their top 50 player performing in the Football League

Darren was awarded the Player of the Year award by Norwich at the end of the 2006/7 season

Over Christmas 2007, Darren was linked with a final career move to the USA with the LA Galaxy - David Beckham's club. Over the weekend of 26th and 27th January 2008, speculation suggested Huckerby was on his way to Toronto FC, where former Canaries team-mates Carl Robinson and Jim Brennan play. However City boss Glenn Roeder said that he had received no inquiries for the 31-year-old winger

Huckerby made his 200th appearance for Norwich in the 2-1 defeat at Ipswichon 13th April 2008

With his contract expiring at the end of the 2007/8 season and with Norwich unwiling to discuss new contracts until the season was completed, Hucks was linked with moves to Neil Warnock's Crystal Palace (The Sun 25th April 2008) and Roy Keane's Sunderland. However Huckerby announced that he would not be joining another English club as he could not face the prospect of playing against Norwich City.

Darren's final appearance for Norwich was in the 4-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on 4th May 2008, which saw Hucks score his 48th goal for the Canaries. Two days laer and it was announced that City would not be renewing his contract much to the dismay of many Norwich fans. Glenn Roeder admitted it was a "tough call". Hucks was quikcly linked with a move to North America with Toronto FC, managed by Mo Johnston and San Jose Earthquakes, manged by former Ipswich player Frank Yallop, both expressing an interest in acquiring the wide player.

On 11th July 2008, it was reported in the USA that Huckerby had signed for Major League Soccer side the San Jose Earthquakes. The Quakes have reached an agreement with Huckerby on an 18-month deal after coming to terms with Toronto FC over the player's rights. However he will not be available until after the July 15 transfer window opens in the MLS and after clearing any immigration issues. Toronto had been favourites to land Huckerby's signature as they held the player's rights under the discovery process, and will now be due compensation from San Jose Rumours from the States have it that Huckerby did not like Toronto's artificial pitch

At the end of his first season in the MLS, Huckerby was voted San Jose's Most Valuable Player. He has scored six goals and notched four assists in 13 games with the Quakes making him the team leader in goals scored. After an outstanding performance in September he was named Major League Soccer Player of the Month

The following season saw Huckerby suffer from injuries and in September 2009, he required surgery on a shredded hip joint; the result of which was his decision to retire from professional football on 12th September 2009. “I've got to give it a chance to see how it is but I'm 99per cent sure that I am done,” said Huckerby. “The second part of my career starts now. I'm one of those kind of people who make a decision and stick to it. I'm content with what I have done in the game. . I look at where I started at the bottom of the third division and I have done everything that I have wanted to do in the game. It's true that you are a long time retired but is there any point playing just for the sake of it? I spoke to Gordon Strachan, he came out to San Francisco and we had a meal and had a chat about this and that and he said to me that if you can't influence a game like you did it's time to walk away. The last couple of months I haven't been influencing games as I know that I can do. The last few months have been difficult for me. I've been trying to play and been severely hindered and now we know why. It was pretty severe surgery that I had,”

In October 2011, Huckerby released his autobiography "Through Adversity to Great Heights" in which he revealed the details of the bust-up with Glenn Roeder which led him to exit Norwich City.

He joined Norwich's Academy as a coach and after a period coaching the Norwich City Under-16s was promoted in July 2015 to take charge of the Under-16s. He then progressed to coaching the Under-18s and Under-23s

On 11th October 2017, it was reported that Huckerby was one of five departures from the club's Academy coaching set-up following a review instigated by Stuart Webber. This was confirmed on 13th October with Webber saying "Firstly, I want to thank Darren for his professionalism throughout his time here. We have done an internal review of the Academy and this includes having to make difficult decisions. This was among those difficult decisions. Darren will always be considered a legend at this club and he leaves with not only our best wishes, but the knowledge that he will always be welcome at Carrow Road.” Webber said of the Academy review: "When we reviewed it, it was obvious to me there was an issue with the discipline of players. A lot of these lads maybe don’t come from fantastic backgrounds, so we have to give them manners, where they might not have had a role model or a parent to look up to. We have to make them rounded individuals and from that the football builds. Players generally fail because, mentally, they are not in the right place. They all have the same physical and tactical capabilities. I believe we can teach players to be good professionals.You look at how the academy is measured and audited nationally and in terms of producing players we are not good enough. The facts are there. There are reasons for that. When you are in the Premier League it is not easy to blood young players, because the priority is to stay up. The same applies when you are in the Championship and going for promotion. It is a bit of vicious circle, hence perhaps why I am here now and able to look beyond Saturday to Saturday.”

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