From battling against relegation from League Two, to playing internationally for England, Ruddy appreciates his journey to Wolves, which included seven well-decorated seasons at Carrow Road.
IN AT THE DEEP END
Cambridge United | 2004-2005
They’re really good memories. I joined there when I was 14, I’d only been playing in goal for a year and got picked up. I was fortunate enough to work with some really good coaches who helped me massively. I got a scholarship and worked there full-time at 16. I lived in the digs with first, second and third-year scholars in the same house and it was an incredible experience, like a group of brothers. There was 20-odd people in there and I’ve still got lasting friendships from that time. I made my debut at the end of my first year at 17, away at Leyton Orient and saved a penalty in a 1-0 win. I played throughout the next season and left the following summer.
THE MASSIVE LEAP
Everton | 2005-2010
Personally, I’d done OK at Cambridge, keeping clean sheets, but unfortunately we got relegated to the Conference. Everton had just qualified for the Champions League, so you can’t get a bigger gulf than that. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, working with David Moyes and Chris Woods, and goalkeepers Nigel Martin, Richard Wright and Ian Turner – three superb goalkeepers who I learnt a lot from. I was there for five years, spending a lot of that time out on loan, but I wouldn’t change it. It helped me as a footballer and in life as well, I moved up there at 18 on my own, bought my first house on my own, so it was a whole new situation. My now wife came up after six months and we’ve lived together since.
A HAPPY HATTER
Stockport County | 2006 & 2008
I had a few loans, but I went to Stockport in my second year and it was really good. I was there for three months and it was the most settled I’d been on loan. I joined them when they were just outside the relegation zone and when I left after three months we were in the Play-Offs. Things went really well, I played with some good players – Ashley Williams, Tommy Rowe and Anthony Pilkington, who I later played with at Norwich. It was an important time for me. I went back the following January and stayed for another three months and we got to the Play-Off final in League Two which was another good experience.
ABOVE THE BORDER
Motherwell | 2009-2010
I went to Motherwell for a year and moved up to Scotland which was a massive life experience. Just experiencing different changing rooms and different people on a day-to-day basis was great. Scotland was fantastic for me, I played a full season there and won Player of the Year. Playing at Ibrox and Celtic Park was massive, back then the SPL had some really good players like Robbie Keane and Aiden McGeady who were at the top of their game. My wife and young son at the time moved up, he was only a year old and joined nursery up there and developed a Scottish accent that we soon got out of him. That was the year where everything switched in terms of my development, I did well and wanted to carry it on. I spoke to David Moyes who was happy for me to continue but if a club came in I could leave, but I’d train with the first-team until then.
A NUMBER ONE
Norwich City | 2010-2017
I remember signing like it was yesterday. I was in Manchester airport, about to go on pre-season tour to Australia with Everton, I’d checked my bags and David came through and told me not to go through because they’d accepted an offer from Norwich. They pulled my bags off the plane, I drove to our family home in Cambridge and signed for Norwich the next day. I spent seven really good years there, experienced some unbelievable highs and some real lows, but overall it was a massively positive experience. I became a number one goalkeeper and was promoted in my first season from the Championship, I played over 100 times in the Premier League, earnt an England cap and won a Play-Off final. Opportunities to move came and went, but I was so comfortable there. Everything was so good, so I didn’t feel the need to change, my family were happy there and settled, but situations change, outlooks change and that’s when I found myself on the way to Wolves and it’s been incredible.