The following article, written by Terry Phillips, was published on Wales Online on 12th May 2013
It is a famous story really, how Craig Noone saw the light whilst fixing the roof at the palatial home of Liverpool and England legend Steven Gerrard.
But when it comes to real ‘Boy’s Own Stuff’ that tale is more than matched by the amazing progress Noone has since made himself.
After helping the Bluebirds lift the Championship title this season, far from being a handy man the exciting winger is now a Premier League peer of Gerrard himself.
It has been a remarkable turnaround for 25-year-old Noone. Five years ago he was a part-time footballer scrapping it out in the often brutal environs of the Northern Conference with his clubs Skelmersdale United, Burscough and then Southport.
To keep paying the bills he took that roofing job which led to the brush with the superstar Gerrard.
Then, in 2008, Noone was plucked from the non-leagues by Plymouth, before honing his skills at Brighton and then signing for Cardiff last summer.
What happened next is already the stuff of legend in south Wales as the Bluebirds stormed the Championship making the leap into the top-flight for the first time in more than half a century.
Noone more than played his part in proceedings, flashing down the wing in a manner often liable to bring the Bluebirds faithful to their feet.
Now he will get to do battle against the very best the game has to offer and funnily enough, it is a rise to prominence that former employer Gerrard predicted.
“I played against Steven before for Brighton in the cups and he did remind me about the roof thing,” said Noone.
“He was winding me up a bit, but he was great. He was made up for me that I’ve got where I am now. He always said one day I would play in the Premier League so it’s nice that it happened.
“I do pinch myself at times. Winning the league with Cardiff and getting promoted. It’s been an amazing feeling.
“I do sometimes have to look back at where I’ve come from. It’s been crazy, the turnaround. I look back and do realise how lucky I am right now. I’m so lucky to be where I am today and I won’t forget that.
“It was tough in those days in the non-league. I got booted a lot more in those days than I did in the Championship.
“But it’s going to be amazing in the Premier League. It is exciting when you think of some of the players you will be up against. That’s what you want to do in your career, you want to test yourself against the best.”
It has been a rapid rise for Noone who was for a long time one of Malky Mackay’s most cherished targets.
The Welsh club first tried to sign him in January last year, but a deal could not be thrashed out with Brighton.
But Noone eventually put pen to paper just as the summer transfer window was about to shut for a fee just above £1m.
He had in fact already featured for Brighton against Cardiff at the start of the campaign before making his Bluebirds’ debut in the home clash with Wolves at the start of September.
Noone grabbed his first goal for his new club in the 2-0 win at Millwall later that month and was to go on to score seven over the campaign culminating in a spectacular free-kick to earn a 1-1 draw against Bolton in Cardiff’s final home fixture.
But if his Cardiff career got off to a flying start, Noone did at times find himself gracing the bench a lot more than he might have liked.
Particularly away from home, as Mackay rotated his talented squad, it was often the wideman who found himself kicking his heels.
But Noone insists he had no problem with that whatsoever. Indeed he believes the way he and his teammates reacted to being ‘rested’ was one of the factors behind their success.
“I was the first man congratulating the lads who were playing in my place,” said Noone.
“They had been the same to me at the start of the season when I was playing regularly and they perhaps weren’t playing as much.
“That is what is good about this team, it’s the fact that we are a team and I really believe that is why we did so well. No one’s head dropped whether they were in or out of the side.”
Noone’s directness and willingness to beat his man immediately installed him as favourite amongst the Cardiff fans.
He terrorised many a Championship defence last campaign and now will be looking to do the same in the top-flight next term.
Noone is realistic about the fact that the step up in class he faces now is going to immense. He accepts he is going to have to improve if he is going to mix it with the Premier League ‘big boys.’
But for a man who just five years ago was up a ladder on Steven Gerrard’s roof, the sky now could just about be the limit.
“Without doubt I’ve still got a lot to learn. I’ve only been in league football for a few years and before than I was part-time,” added Noone.
“There’s a lot of things I need to improve on. I know that. I need to come back for preseason and work very hard on parts of my game.
“But things have changed so much for me and I’m learning every year. I learnt things at Plymouth and Brighton and now I’m learning the game even more here. I hope I’m improving and I do hope to improve even more next season.”