North End goalkeeper Declan Rudd is the cover star of Wednesday night’s programme against his former club and league leaders Norwich City.
The PNE No.1 is relishing today’s clash – he was born in Norwich, was at Carrow Road from the age of eight and they gave him his first chance as a professional footballer.
He still has a lot of family and friends in Norwich and has a vegan restaurant in the city, the three-storey Erpingham House which he opened with friend Loui Blake and ex-Norwich footballer Russell Martin, among others, last year. It has already been voted in The Times’ top 20 vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Great Britain.
“I grew up as a Norwich season ticket holder, I was there for 18 years, it was a big part of life and they gave me a chance in football so I have got a lot to be grateful for them for,” said Declan.
“But they decided my time was up and that gave me a new lease of life coming here.
“It’s a big occasion to play against a club you have had so much affiliation to, I have had three big promotions with them and have seen the relegations as well and been through a lot.
“Joining at the age of eight was a long time with the club but the time has gone now and, when you step over that line, it’s just another team and I want to beat them just as much as I want to beat anyone, if a little bit more.
“The whole group of players and staff has completely changed since I was there. Norwich are doing well at the minute and it will be interesting to see if they keep going as it is.
“I have a lot of family who are Norwich fans and some of my best friends are season ticket holders and I know the first quarter of the season they were a bit angry at what was going on.
“It’s turned around and they seem to be riding that wave and keeping going.
“However, I know we have enough here to stop them and get a result against them and I would take our 11 against any 11 any day.
“I love my time here and am actually quite thankful they did let me go as I am really enjoying myself.”
He is also pleased with his own game and puts some of it down to his own vegan diet which he started in pre-season.
“It sometime gets tough when you are at home and your friends are having a Chinese, but it’s good, I feel great, I feel strong, fit and energetic.
“It’s made a great change in my life as to how I feel as a person and also illnesses, touch wood. I have not been ill all season now. It’s something I am glad I am doing.
“Jayden likes to have two or three plant-based meals a week and he gets involved, but the others are staying away from it at the moment.
“I obviously encourage any Norwich fans to give the restaurant a try – it’s great to be a part of it!”
There’s loads more from Dec in Wednesday’s edition of The One And Only, plus we have interviews with Chris Brown, Simon Whaley, Steve Wilkes, Jayden Stockley, Alan Browne and Joe Rafferty.
The 100-page edition of the official matchday programme is still just £3 and is on sale from Wednesday afternoon from the club’s Sir Tom Finney Stand ticket office and from the sellers inside and outside the ground on matchday, so make sure you pick up your copy.