Brooke Norton-Cuffy did his homework on new Millwall head coach Joe Edwards when he heard the former Everton and Chelsea assistant was set to land the permanent job at The Den.
The Arsenal loanee was brought in on a season-long stint under Gary Rowett after a successful season that saw him reach the Championship play-off final with Coventry.
England youth international Norton-Cuffy asked around about Edwards, who left his role as U20 head coach of the Three Lions, to ensure he hit the ground running under the incoming new boss.
“I spoke to a few people,” Norton-Cuffy told the South London Press.
“I know a few players from the academy system who worked with him at England U20 level – Ryan Andrews from Watford being one.
“Everyone had nothing but good things to say about him.
“I spoke with coaches as well, and it was the same.
“When I heard he was coming in, I had the jist of what he was about.
“I have really enjoyed working with Joe so far and I feel as though I am improving every day as a player.
“I’m just getting better and better. Hopefully, I can continue the form and keep it up.
“It’s really exciting under him. I feel as though he’s making everyone’s game a lot better. We just need to give him time and we’ll start to see results start forming.
“But as an individual, I feel as though I am improving every single day that I am with him.
Norton-Cuffy registered his first assist for the Lions last time when he set up Kevin Nisbet for the opener in their 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland. He also scored his first goal in Edwards’ first game in charge – a 4-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday.
“It’s something I spoke about a lot coming into the season. But it takes a bit of time for things to gel. Now I have a goal and an assist, hopefully, I can keep the ball rolling and get more.
“I feel as though I am getting better game by game.
“We just need to focus on picking up points – we can’t look too far ahead.
“The Championship changes really quickly and all it takes is a good run of form.
“All I want to do right now is win games, improve as a player, add to my stats and pick up points on the way.
“This is my second season in the Championship, so it’s a bit different from last season – things were a bit new to me in my first campaign.
“I have played quite a few games in this division now and I kind of know what’s expected of me.
“It’s about me affecting games in the Championship now and trying to be a standout in my games – that’s the bar for me now.
“I’m playing well but, for myself, I still feel like there is a lot more that the fans haven’t seen from me yet.”
He has been deployed at right-back but also as a right midfielder for the Lions this season.
“Really and truly, I’m a right-back – that’s my main position,” added Norton-Cuffy.
“I feel as though it’s my best position.
“But if the manager needs me, and I spoke to him about him as well, I can play anywhere down the right side and I’ll play the position I’m needed to play.
“If the manager needs me at right-back, right-wing, right wing-back or even at left-back, whatever it is, then I’ll play.”
The 19-year-old’s performances have seen him jump up to Lee Carsley’s England U21 squad for the first time this season.
He made his debut as a late substitute in the 3-2 defeat against Ukraine and then played the full second half for the young Three Lions in the 3-0 win over Northern Ireland at Goodison Park.
“I’m really enjoying it,” said Norton-Cuffy of stepping up.
“I have tough competition there in my position with the likes of Rico Lewis and Tino Liveramento.
“The challenge is good and I’m enjoying working with the staff – I’m working with some great players as well.
“The little time away gives me something different to think about – they show me areas of the game that I might not see and need to improve on as well.”
Norton-Cuffy has made 16 appearances for the South Londoners this season already, triggering a clause in his loan deal from the Gunners, which means they are unable to recall him from The Den this campaign.
Despite having loan spells at Lincoln City, Rotherham and Coventry to his name already, this is set to be the first time Norton-Cuffy will see out a full season at a club.
He added: “You can really set a marker when you’re at a club for a whole season rather than half a season.
“I don’t really know about all the clauses and stuff like that.
“I’m here now and I’m enjoying my football here at Millwall – let’s carry it on.”
Subscribe to Blog via Email
Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:
“A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or, please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ