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Rowe: Norwich hopes, Ipswich rivalry and watching Torres

“This may seem a bit weird, but I used to watch this guy called… Actually, why am I saying this guy like everyone doesn’t know who he is?”

I am chatting inspirations growing up with Jonathan Rowe, the 20-year-old Norwich winger who has lit up the Championship this season with his flair, his skill and his goalscoring touch.

“I used to watch Fernando Torres when he was at Liverpool,” he continues to tell Sky Sports with a smile. “And I don’t know why I was watching him, to be honest.

“There was this show, I think it was called ‘Goals Goals Goals’. I used to just love watching goals in my spare time, and it was the only football show I had available on my TV.

Image: Rowe with the Sky Bet Championship Goal of the Month award for January

“Torres used to come up a lot, then I’d watch him on YouTube and see more of those skill compilation videos. Then I started seeing the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Hazard. I just remember thinking: ‘This is what I want to be’.”

Rowe showed off a lot of his exceptional talent last month with a goal that secured him the Sky Bet Championship award for January – netting a fantastic solo effort in a 2-1 win at Hull City.

“I’ve got quite a few honourable mentions this season, but that one was up there,” he says.

“It was probably one of my favourites because it just had everything in a game that needed something to break the deadlock.

“Those game-changing goals are significant and the ones you remember more than others. I’ll definitely remember that for the rest of my life.”

Another day and performance Rowe will no doubt remember for the rest of his life was one at Portman Road in December – when he scored twice for Norwich in a 2-2 draw at fierce rivals Ipswich.

At the time Norwich were labouring in lower mid-table and Ipswich were flying high in second place.

Rowe was determined, in the first East Anglian derby in five years, that they were not going to be beaten. He even provided a bit of extra spice in the build-up with some social media chat. Needless to say he followed through on his words.

“The build-up to that game was one of the main parts that got me excited and kind of charged up,” Rowe says.

“It is part of why I love football and you can’t lose that side of the rivalries – that bit of cheekiness.

“So I think I kind of rattled a few fans before the game! And it was a good thing that I delivered, because if you’re going to give it out then you need to make sure you perform. If you don’t you’ll never hear the end of it.”

It was the kind of occasion he so badly missed last season, when a couple of bad injuries kept him away from really breaking through a year earlier than he finally did.

Norwich City's Jonathan Rowe in action
Image: Rowe scored twice against Ipswich in December

“I missed a lot of football last season, and football is my happiness so I was kind of down all year,” Rowe admits. “But I channelled that in a good way and used it as motivation to build myself back up and attack this season with all I had.

“All the emotion and pain from last year, I just kind of let loose and it all burst out. In my mind this season is what I planned to do last year. So I feel like I’m playing catch-up.

“I’ve always known my ability, and I think all decent players know what they’re capable of. It’s all about getting the opportunity to show it.

“And the manager has given me the opportunity to showcase it, so I’ve got to thank him for that. Long may it continue.”

Unfortunately for Rowe, his most recent appearance against QPR earlier this month may well be his last for the campaign.

A hamstring injury could sideline him into May, a setback that has damaged Norwich’s prospects of pushing on into the play-offs.

“To be honest it came as a bit of a shock to me and everyone at the club,” Rowe admits. “I’d just come back from a little hand injury and I was looking forward to making an impact towards the business end of the season.

“But these things happen for a reason, and you’ve got to take it on the chin and work towards getting back. There’s where I’m trying to get my head at right now.”

For now, Rowe can reflect back on a brilliant season that has garnered 12 goals for club, and one for country on his debut.

He was called up for the England U21s in October, and scored on his debut against Ukraine.

Image: Rowe training with England U21s at St George’s Park in October
Image: Rowe scored on his England U21 debut in October

“It was a great experience,” he says. “Being around world-class players like that gives you that bit of confidence, and you come back to training with your club wanting to try something you saw there.

“Being able to represent your country, it was an indescribable feeling.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity, and to score on my debut was just the added cherry on the cake.

“I hope to get back involved in it once I’m fit again.”

Norwich will hope his return comes sooner rather than later.

Sky News
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