Todd Cantwell’s time at Fortuna Sittard sparked his Norwich rise
It was Todd Cantwell’s driving conduct and written finish that attracted the breakthrough aim for Norwich in their 2-0 win at Everton on Saturday. The victory ended a seven-game winless run for Daniel Farke’s side, lifting the Canaries from the foot of the Premier League table.
The midfielder was a revelation this season. There have been great games and bad, but he’s trebled his goal tally from the Championship effort. His current trainer is thrilled but there was a message too from his previous one after the game.
“I spoke to him afterwards on Saturday and advised me he did a good job but there is still a long way to go,” Kevin Hofland informs Sky Sports. “He believes, that’s the main thing. He always thinks.”
Hofland, the former PSV, Feyenoord and Netherlands international defender, played with a brief but critical role in Cantwell’s development when he was appointed as assistant trainer in Fortuna Sittard in February of last year.
At the moment, Cantwell’s loan move to Dutch football’s second tier wasn’t going well. He hadn’t started a game beneath departing trainer Sunday Oliseh and was frustrated a daring decision made to earn him significant game time seemed to have backfired.
It did not take Hofland long to spot the talent.
He arrived on the Thursday. Cantwell made his complete professional introduction to the Friday.
“I cannot state anything about what happened before but that I remember seeing on television when he arrived as a replacement from Volendam and I noticed that he’s this specific way with the basketball,” recalls Hofland.
“Quick handling, 1 touch and 2 touch all the time. Decision making. Recognising the Circumstance. I didn’t understand the player but his caliber with the ball was immediately obvious.
“After I arrived I saw it in training also. I am a mentor who wishes to play a good deal of possession matches in smallish spaces which requires quick thinking. That is what you see with him.
“We instantly put him into the group.”
His initial away start against NEC Nijmegen attracted his aim. His second Eindhoven produced his second. It was a learning process although the progress was swift.
“It is normal that in case you play games at a certain level then you’ll develop,” states Hofland. “This is precisely what I saw weekly. Two decades on, you are watching a more experienced player if you see him today, however he was rising afterward. In games and in coaching.
“I had to push him to do a little bit more with no ball. He had been a bit lazy. He was also somewhat irritated by the artificial grass where we coached. I told him that he needed to handle it and he had to make use of it. Focus on the games. That is definitely the thing that is important.
“It wasn’t easy for him. As a kid coming to Holland if you aren’t playing in the beginning then you’re struggling with yourself. In part because of your age but also since you’re asking yourself whether you have made the perfect step.
“But he’s a intelligent guy and he has a kind of fighting spirit. He had to maintain faith in himself. Naturally, success is always important but additionally it is vital to get a young person to encounter some negative things in their life. When the true player will endure, that is.
“We changed a lot with this group. The mentality off the pitch. I advised them that you simply have one opportunity and every single day you need to grab it. I attempted to change this attitude in those players’ minds. He was. He made the turn.”
A strong conclusion to the year brought parties – Fortuna were encouraged after 16 decades of attempting into the Eredivisie. Cantwell’s promotion with hometown team Norwich last season was unique too.
“After we were promoted, he was crazy,” yells Hofland. “He had been hurt in the last game but he played a very major part afterwards. He is a man that is funny. He understood when it was training it was the time to be fully focused but he was a guy who was completely engaged with everything”
Hofland desired to keep him at the club.
“He had made a fantastic step with our club and I tried to bring back him but he wished to take his opportunity with Norwich,” he explains. “I totally agree with his decision. I understood it now you can see a couple of decades later where he’s.”
Has Cantwell’s effect amazed him?
“It is surprising due to the amount of their Premier League. But on the flip side, it doesn’t surprise me. So I already saw that he had the quality I worked for three weeks. I hope . There’s quite a ways to go because he’s still young but he is on a good path.”
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As Fortuna, their adventure persists.
Having only survived the fall last year they sit outside of the relegation zone once more and are continuing to provide opportunities for young British gamers. The George Cox and the Cian Harries of Swansea of brighton are now impressing at the club on loan.
“These men are getting expertise at the maximum level so it’s great for them to come here,” adds Hofland. “It is hard for those young players to receive their chance in England. Here, we don’t have the money so we will play with with the young players instead to buy players.
“They succeed or they do not succeed, it is dependent upon the participant. But they’ve got their own chance. Todd took his.”
He’s doing exactly the same thing in the Premier League.