John Ruddy: I would rather stay up with Norwich than go to World Cup

After a long time spent in the League’s lower reaches, Norwich’s No 1 is keeping his feet firmly on the ground in top flight

There are probably very few situations in football quite so daunting: to be a Premier League goalkeeper in a relegation battle, under bombardment, and tasked with serving as that last crucial barrier. Norwich City’s John Ruddy is better placed than most to explain the mindset at such heights, given the amount of time he spent in England’s lower leagues. A few aspects still strike him, but also one particular opponent.

“The pace of play,” Ruddy says. “The pace of the ball, the movement of the strikers, the intelligence of them. I’ve obviously witnessed it with [Luis] Suarez in particular, the speed of thought he has. He’s taking shots people wouldn’t take in a million years and he’s pulling them off, making people look stupid.

“You just sort of stand there and think: ‘what’s just happened?’ I remember the Arsenal game [4-1 at the Emirates], when they scored the first [Jack Wilshere goal]. That was ridiculous. I remember just standing there and looking behind me and seeing the ball... it’s just so quick and so precise. You can only admire it really. But that’s what I want to be. I want to be in that situation, and hopefully I can stay there for many years to come as well.”

Such a situation will present itself again on 19 June in Sao Paulo when England take on Suarez’s Uruguay for what may be the World Cup group’s crunch game. “It’s very much a target,” Ruddy says. To even be involved on the bench would represent some rise, given where he was four years ago. While England were toiling around South Africa in the last World Cup, the young goalkeeper was spending his last days at Everton, where he had made just one League appearance but gone on nine different loan moves. As Ruddy admits, he was an “unknown”. It is probably for that very reason that he has a definite answer to an otherwise difficult question: what would he take: top-flight survival or a place in Brazil?

“Staying up in the Premier League, without a doubt. People might think that’s a bit strange but that’s my bread and butter, that’s what provides me and my family with a life, that’s what I enjoy doing week in, week out. The World Cup’s a fantastic opportunity but that’s every four years.

“Getting into the Premier League got me into the England squad so it can be done, and hopefully I can do both come the end of the season.”

Achieving that would also bring together another few strands of Ruddy’s career. The 27-year-old is effectively in competition for England’s reserve goalkeeping place with Celtic’s Fraser Foster – whom he replaced at Norwich in 2010 – and the injury-prone Ben Foster.

Newly promoted to the Championship, Norwich wanted to keep the on-loan Forster – only for his host club Newcastle United to price them out. Ruddy proved the next best option. In the top flight he has kept more clean sheets than everyone except Wojciech Szczesny, Petr Cech and Hugo Lloris.

“I think that speaks volumes, not just for myself but us as a defensive unit,” Ruddy says. “It shows how far we’ve come on this season. If you take a couple of games out, the Liverpools, Man City, Arsenal, I think our goals-to-game ratio conceded would be very good.”

Forster has broken Bobby Clark’s 43-year-old Scottish record of 1,155 minutes without conceding – but is operating in a lesser league. “I think if you are playing in the top league in England, you probably should [have an edge],” Ruddy says. “That’s not detracting anything from Fraser, he’s a top-quality goalkeeper. The record he’s just set speaks for itself. I don’t care what level you’re playing at, that’s a fantastic achievement.”

Today’s fixture has an edge quite apart from the fight for survival. Norwich have been involved in a legal dispute with Aston Villa over the departure of manager Paul Lambert. Speaking at the launch of Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, Ruddy gives credit to his old manager for “taking a gamble” on him back in 2010. “Certainly, given where it’s gone, he’s played a massive part in [my career] without a shadow of a doubt. I can’t thank him enough for taking the opportunity to take me to Norwich. Without that platform, who knows where I’d be.”

Norwich’s current manager Chris Hughton has come under huge pressure, but his keeper insists the squad have great respect for him. “If there wasn’t a great liking for him, to be quite blunt, I don’t think he’d still be here,” he says. “There wouldn’t be that effort there, and I think that’s what you have seen in recent weeks.

“We feel like we can go into every game and win. Mentally we’re in a good place and performance-wise we’re in a better place, so confidence is fairly high.” Ruddy is far from daunted.

Aston Villa v Norwich City is on  Sky Sports 3 today, kick-off 4.30pm.

John Ruddy took on Asmir Begovic in the Plants vs. GOALIES Pea-nalty shootout. To see who won, visit Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare is OUT NOW on Xbox One and Xbox 360

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own