Wolves midfielder Neil Emblen signed a three year contract with
Norwich on 11th July 2001 costing the Canaries £500,000. Norwich
had the opportunity to sign Emblen in 1993 when Mike
Walker was offered the then Sittingbourne midfielder described
as the "new Bryan Robson". Walker turned down the opportunity
and Neil joined Millwall. His career has since taken him to Wolves
(twice) and Crystal Palace and he has become a highly rated midfielder
who once was valued at £2million. Although aged 30, his versatility
enables him to play in defence or even as a striker although his
preferred position is central midfield. From this role, he will
lead the Canaries for 2001/02 as Nigel
Worthington named him as the club's captain (with former Wolves
teammate and friend Iwan Roberts as
Neil made his debut for the Canaries in their 4-0 thrashing at
Millwall on the opening day of the 2001/02 season although he
can be excused some responsibility as he was stretchered off injured
during the first half. He missed most of the season though this
injury, making just one further appearance.
Neil had been primarily used as substitute during 2002/03. Therefore
he was allowed to join Walsall on a month's loan on January 9th
2003 to gain match fitness. Both Emblen and Worthington stressed
that this was a temproary measure to get Neil fit and that he
was returning to Carrow Road.
On 28th April 2003, Norwich announced that they had come to an
agreement with Neil that would see his contract terminated a year
early. His wages would help Nigel Worthington rebuild and freshen
up the first team squad. Neil had made just 15 appearances in
total for the Canaries, 9 of which has been as substitute. He
has since embarked on a trial with Walsall who received special
clearance from the Football League to play him on the last day
of the season in a meaningless clash with Sheffield Wednesday.
Walsall then signed Neil on a one year contract in June 2003 despite
a rival enquiry from Southend. Unfortunately for the Saddlers,
they were relegated from Division One on the last day of the 2003/4
In April 2005, Neil announced that he would be joining the new
Australian A-League in the summer. He signed for Auckland-based
New Zealand Knights - the same club that former Saddlers Danny
Hay and Darren Bazeley have already signed for. "I had
hoped to delay this announcement until our safety in League One
confirmed, because I didn't want anything to detract from the
job," said Emblen.
Two yeas later, Emblen joined New Zealand Northern League side
Waitakere City who beat Auckland City and Waikato for his signature.
Neil had also played two friendly matches for American tside Puerto
Rico Islanders during April 2007. He was deemed too expensive
to sign for the entire season because of the cost of relocating
his family, but will play for the Islanders during June and July
Emblen later took up a position of youth development officer
at Waitakere but was appointed player-manager in August 2009 when
previous coach, Chris Milicich, jumped ship to join rivals Auckland
In October 2011, it was announced that Emblen would take charge
of New Zealand's Under-23 side as they bid to qualify for the
London 2012 Olympic football tournament. They were successful
and so in July/August 2012, Neil coached his side at the London
2012 Olympics. They lost 1-0 to Belarus, drew 1-1 with Egypt and
lost 3-0 to Brazil.
Waitakere decided that they did not want Emblen's management
anymore and they parted company with him in the summer of 2012.
He remains as assistant to New Zealand national coach Rikki Herbert.