Yellow fellow Lambert has fire in his belly

There’s as much chance of Norwich City gaining promotion to the Premier League this season as there is Paul Lambert’s favourite colour being yellow.

That should encourage the Canaries' supporters then, as the former Motherwell, Livingston and Borussia Dortmund player clearly has an eye for ‘Gelb’ - yellow, if you’re not a regular at the Westfalenstadion.

"I don’t think us [Norwich] doing so well in the Championship should come as a surprise. We had the foundation to have a decent season with the crowds and the fan base we've got. Whether we are going to do as well as we are at the minute, we'll have to wait and see. The rise has been pretty quick though," said Lambert.

The 41-year-old isn’t scared of a challenge, nor is he scared that a successive promotion with the Carrow Road outfit would be too much too soon: “I'd rather worry about that if we got up, rather than not have that worry. The football we're playing at the minute is very, very good.

“I think the npower Championship is a terrific league, and I think the difference between it and League One is vast. One of the main things we've got here, as well as our ability, is a great team spirit to try and win football matches.”

The Scot has never been one for blowing his own trumpet, but many in Norfolk see him as a hero for leading the former Premier League outfit from the depths of League One.

Bizarre as it sounds, Lambert was actually the architect for what was to prove a Championship-winning campaign – despite starting the season in the away dugout when they lost 7-1 at home on the opening day of the 2009/10 season to lesser rivals Colchester United. “I think people misread that game, and thought we [Colchester] were just going to turn up and get beaten,” he said.

The man from Paisley had his head turned by Delia Smith and her fellow board members, though, and was persuaded to jump on to the sinking ship. And there was the small matter of taking his new Norwich players back to face his old Colchester players again.

“When we went back to Colchester, we knew it was going to be a bit hostile,” he deadpans. "But to do that, to win 5-0 there, was a phenomenal achievement for the lads. At the end of the day it was three points. We just went there and played brilliantly, especially when the game was nearly called off due to the rain. To put that one to bed was very satisfying for everyone at the football club."

Moving from ‘established’ League One side Colchester to ‘unstable’ Norwich could be seen by some as a gamble. However Lambert has never shirked a challenge, going back to his time as a player.

He left the comforts of ‘bonny’ Scotland behind for a year to play for Borussia Dortmund, and the German giants reached the Champions League Final against Juventus. The Bianconeri midfield included French maestros Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps, but Lambert insists it didn’t faze him.

“I had the belief in my ability that I could handle being in that company. I was never bothered that they were playing. I knew I had to look after my game, first and foremost.

“But I also knew that, in my own team, I was playing with people that had won World Cups and Serie A and Bundesliga titles. I had phenomenal footballers beside me in that 1997 European Cup final. With Andreas Moeller, Matthias Sammer, Steffen Freund, Karl-Heinz Riedle and Paulo Sousa, our team was as good as anybody else's."

So what of today’s Champions League? “It’s still got its appeal today too, it's the best club competition in the world,” he said. "Everybody wants to win it, and people spend millions and millions of pounds trying to do that. The media attention and prestige of winning it means that the global appeal of it is vast. You come up against some brilliant teams and brilliant footballers."

After his successful spell in the northwest of Germany, the Scot returned to his homeland and the lure of Celtic.

“I think people saw winning the Champions League as a great achievement – not many people do it," notes Lambert. "I'm lucky to be in the same company as the likes of John Robertson, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen, and all the Lisbon Lions. Scotland's a small country, so for me to be in that group makes me very proud."

Lambert proved his international qualities and represented Scotland at France ’98 where he tussled with the likes of Dunga in the opening game in which the Tartan Army lost 2-1 to Brazil.

Domestically, Scotland has seen its better players, such as Kenny Miller, moving abroad for a better salary and the former midfielder has sound advice.

“I recommend going abroad, but I think you have to go to the right club. I was fortunate because I knew the players I was going to play with, and they weren't your run of the mill, they were world class.

“Anyone can go abroad and make money then decide they don't fancy it and come back, but I wanted to win things and learn a different culture and a different way of playing football. British players rarely make it because they aren’t adaptable enough.”

Lambert the manager appears different to when he was a player, “I try to put your arm around people and make them feel better about themselves. I’m always learning and looking for things to benefit the team. I have a really good backroom staff with me, which really helps.

“At this moment club football is what I want to do. I want to try and do as best we can with Norwich. I want to strive for the best that I can be,” he said.

With that, Paul Lambert retains the steely determination that got him so far as a player and consequently he is showing the traits of another potentially successful manager from North of the border.

Words by Tom Biltcliffe. Paul Lambert was speaking to Yahoo! through its partnership with the League Managers Association. Visit The Dugout at www.yahoo.co.uk/dugout

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