The Earthquakes are set to play a friendly against EPL-side Norwich City F.C. at Buck Shaw Stadium on July 20. A San Jose Earthquake great and former Norwich City footballer, Darren Huckerby will be in the audience that night, and SJEarthquakes.com had the chance to catch up with the Englishman.
Prior to joining the Quakes in 2008, Darren Huckerby is a veteran English Premier League player. After short stints with Lincoln City, Newcastle United and Millwall, Huckerby first spent several seasons with Coventry City, scoring 28 goals in 94 appearances. His most memorable season with the club came in 1998 where he notched the game-winning goal against Manchester United at Highfield Road.
Following his time with Coventry, Huckerby played for Leeds United, Manchester City and Nottingham Forest before finding a home with Norwich City F.C. in 2003. During the Nottingham native’s first full season with Norwich, he scored 14 goals, leading the club to a First Division championship and promotion to the EPL. He was voted the team’s Player of the Year twice, and finished his Norwich career with 36 goals in 174 appearances. A fan favorite, Huckerby was voted to the Greatest Ever Norwich City XI team following his final season with the canaries.
In July 2008, Huckerby joined the San Jose Earthquakes after a trade with Toronto F.C. Huckerby made an immediate impact for the club, winning the 2008 MLS Newcomer of the Year Award. He would make 28 appearances for the Quakes from 2008-09, scoring nine goals. A hip injury forced him to retire from the sport in 2009.
Huckerby returned to England and is currently an Academy coach at Norwich City.
SJEarthquakes.com: What is your favorite memory of your professional soccer career?
Darren Huckerby: Too many to mention. I'm most proud of scoring in every level of English football. I think I'm the only player to ever do it.
SJEQ: Describe your time at Norwich City. How did it feel when you helped lead the club to a promotion to the EPL in your first season?
DH: I had an amazing rapport with the Norwich fans straight away. They believed in me, and together, with a great group of players, we managed to win the league. There is not a better feeling.
SJEQ: What do you remember about your transition from England to America?
DH: It’s always tough when you leave your family, but the San Jose lads were great. I fit in right away.
SJEQ: Is the fan culture different in the United States?
DH: The biggest difference is there is not much away support at games. In England, most teams have big away support, but home teams in MLS have massive advantages at home.
SJEQ: What was your favorite moment in a Quakes jersey?
DH: When I first joined the Quakes we went on a 9 game unbeaten run. Beating LA Galaxy 3-2 is always a great moment too.
SJEQ: What’s one American food you have to have when you arrive?
DH: I love cake and coffee from Peet’s. We don't have them in England.
SJEQ: What’s your favorite spot to visit when you come out to San Jose?
DH: Have to go to a few San Jose Sharks games – a very exciting sport. My lads love it.
SJEQ: Do you keep in touch with any of your former Earthquakes teammates?
DH: I still keep in touch with a few of the lads, and I still talk to MLS legend Joe Cannon from time to time. And even though he's gone I'm still in touch with Frank Yallop - he's a great guy.
SJEQ: Finally, one question all of our fans are dying to know: Are you planning to suit up for either side during the San Jose-Norwich City friendly?
DH: Afraid not, my legs are too old for that. Norwich will be taking the game very seriously with their season just round the corner. I’m just happy to be in San Jose to watch the game.