Skipper reflects on nine years at Town
Luke Chambers spoke to iFollow Ipswich after it was announced that he had played his final game for the Club.
The defender, who made almost 400 appearances for Town, left Blues on Monday and sat down with the Club's media team to look back on a nine-year stint with Blues.
The full interview is available to watch or read below.
Chambo, thank you for sitting down with us. Nine years at Ipswich Town is pretty special. How have the last few days been for you, with this chapter in your life now finished?
It's been a surreal few days, but everything in football comes to an end and there are rarely fairytales. The way it's happened is a little bit disappointing, but it's only really when you leave a role or a place of work that people show their appreciation. The messages and phone calls I have received from not just friends and family but people in football that you wouldn't even think of has been pretty overwhelming. It probably hasn't sunk in that I've worked my last day here, but my time at the Club has been a fantastic journey and it's one that I am very proud of. I'm proud of my contribution to the Football Club and I think most people you speak to would echo that.
Let's go back to the beginning. What were your thoughts when you arrived at the Club?
It was a bit of a controversial one when I joined. I was in the middle of my medical and Simon Milton [former player turned player liaison], who Skusey [Cole Skuse] mentioned yesterday, was there. He played a massive part and was an unfortunate loss for the Club when he went. He was showing me around the nice parts of Ipswich and when we went for my medical I started but then got called out again because something had changed in the deal. I went back to where I was but seven days later everything was sorted again and we got it sorted. That's a day I will always remember, though. I remember sitting down with Milts having some lunch and talking about the opportunity I was going to get here. It wasn't what I was expecting in terms of the players we were supposedly going to sign and the ideas that were sold to me on that day and over the summer, but thankfully we got through that season - albeit with someone coming in and saving us and getting us to play the way we needed to.
"Behind the scenes I would like to think I have helped build strong foundations that the Club can move forward on."
What were you thinking when you walked into the building for the first time? You probably saw some people that are still here now, and you've formed some good relationships with people at the Club over the years haven't you?
I have, and they're the heartbeat of the Football Club. I just hope moving forward they still have their roles to play and the jobs there for them. Hopefully going forward they will have a bit of help as well, because a lot of people have taken on additional roles and responsibilities where more help should have been given. There are loads of lovely people though and they're what make the Club in my opinion. Everyone has always been so helpful to me and hopefully I have reciprocated that and helped them along the way as well. Behind the scenes I would like to think I have helped build strong foundations that the Club can move forward on.
How did you feel when you took your first game as captain, Chambo? You stepped in for Carlos Edwards of course...
Yes me and Carlos had a fantastic working relationship and we still talk to this day. He was a hell of a player and a signing that the Club did make that had a massive impact. He's a tremendous guy as well as a talented footballer. On the day [1 September 2012 vs Huddersfield] Carlos wasn't playing and I think it was just the natural thing for me to take the armband in his absence. I'd obviously done it before it Nottingham Forest which is a very similar club in terms of stature and size but it really was an honour still. I didn't come to the Club to be captain, although I did know it was part of me as a player, but it certainly wasn't c a case of 'oh I'm only coming in if I've got the armband', that's just not me as a person. I always play the same way with or without the armband. Carlos was someone that I looked up to and he handled the Club very well and always spoke well too. Plus his standards in the game and his ambitions matched mine. I was happy to take the armband from him on the day but I never pictured, while he was at the Club, taking that responsibility. If someone is at a Club it is very disrespectful, in my opinion, to take a captaincy away from them.
"I captained Northampton to promotion at the age of 19, so someone else saw that quality in me."
When did you realise you had the attributes and characteristics to be a captain? Were you running around as a little lad as vocal on the pitch as you are now?
I think I've always just tried to be an example on the pitch. It's the way I try to live my life and do everything from training to home. It comes from my upbringing and I can't thank my parents enough. I had a great network in my family growing up, and my dad had to move to Germany at times for work, so I often had aunties and uncles taking me to training. That takes a lot of effort and often goes unseen in football, so they've had a massive role to play. I think that has set me on my way to try and go out of my way to help other people as well. When I was at Northampton coming through I was one of the late developers so it was difficult to see lads my age playing at an older level, but then I had a growth spurt and I became more confident and more vocal. I captained Northampton to promotion at the age of 19 so someone else saw that quality in me and I think it then brought it out in me. I've never changed to this day really.
What does it mean to you that your teammates have praised your qualities on and off the pitch?
I think that's all you can go on really because in football you can go from hero to zero in some eyes. That's the world we live in now and that's the football landscape - it has definitely changed since I was a young player. I always said to the lads, though, as long as I am doing a job and you guys are being brutally honest with me, that's all I can ask for. I've been fortunate enough to play under a lot of managers at the Club and I have always been picked to play. I think those two things go hand in hand - in terms of the players and the managers. They must see something in you that doesn't change no matter what the situation is.
"For me, you couldn't ask for a better professional and better role model to represent your football club."
We spoke to Skusey about his first day at the Club, and he said you were in his ear from the beginning. What was that day like from your point of view, and what's he been like as a teammate and a friend for you?
I had a feeling that he might join in the previous season because he was out of contract. When I arrived a lot of people knew me from playing against me for a while, so I had met a lot of people that already knew me. It meant I could help break the ice - whether it be giving the new lad a bit of stick or making a joke about them giving me an elbow in a game, that was always my role. I think the lads that have joined the Club over my nine-year period would say that it has been a very easy environment to settle into. You always know when you start a new job or at a new school, whatever it is, it's a nerve-wracking time. If you can be that guy that helps them settle, though, then it's good for you and them but it's also good for the team and the Club in general. It's important that when a player comes in they are comfortable and they can hit the ground running because then they have the best chance of doing what they were signed to do at the Club. Skusey has been a massive influence on me and my life, and he's chilled me out at times and given me a rollocking when I have needed it! He's someone that lives his life and has standards like I do and he has tried to help drive the Football Club for the entire time he's been here - behind the scenes, in the community and on the pitch. For me you couldn't ask for a better professional and better role model to represent your football club. Yes he doesn't score loads and loads of goals but what a professional and what a player. The lads have always appreciated him and he will be sorely missed.
"Still to this day I have been chasing players down the corridor saying 'why have you left your plate on the side?'."
You've always tried to be a role model for the younger players and they have looked up to you as well haven't they?
It's just me really. Whether I'm at the Club or not, people can pick the phone up and ask for advice and I am always there for them - there's no agenda. Lads that have come in and played at the same time as me have had a quick learning curve because there are little things like saying thank you and cleaning up after yourself that I want to see at home as well as at the Club. Still to this day I have been chasing players down the corridor saying 'why have you left your plate on the side or crumbs on the table'. It's a case of respect and I think if you can't do that at work are you going to do it at home? I think they've taken it on board because we have had some good lads as well as players at the Club.
What are your memories of the 2014/15 campaign, Chambo. Great for the Club to make the play-offs but bittersweet memories?
The play-offs season was fantastic when you look at the players we had in that squad and what the manager was able to put together with the resources he had. If we had been able to capitalise on our position at Christmas time then things might have been very different, and we probably wouldn't be sitting where we are now. The Charlton game was brilliant when Noel [Hunt] came on and scored. They [Sky] stuck a camera in our faces 30 seconds after we had just won the game in injury time with 4,000 proper Ipswich fans in the away end so that was a good moment and what a day that was. It's unfortunate that we missed out to that lot up the road.
When did you really settle in and think 'this is my club'?
I'm not sure if there was a specific moment to be honest - maybe the first day! The last few days have been nice because over the last few years we have had a lot of negativity and we haven't been where we wanted to be, so it's nice to look back at the good times and the effect I had at the Club. I'll always be proud and I watch videos like the one you guys [media team] put out and enjoy them.
"For now I want to continue playing but the feeling I have in me is that this club and place is going to be very difficult to beat."
From that first day has your love for the Club grown and grown?
Exactly because to be brutally honest I didn't think I would be leaving the Club this summer. We'd had conversations in the past and I don't feel it's the right time for me to leave but that is out of my hands. You can't dwell on it, though, otherwise it'll eat you away inside. I'm sure I have unfinished at the Football Club so potentially in the future, who knows what is around the corner. For now I want to continue playing but the feeling I have in me is that this club and place is going to be very difficult to beat. I have to be excited about whatever is next for me. My wife and parents and children say 'you must be so sad' and I say 'yeah I am, but football goes on'. The Club will continue without me and in a couple of months fans will be excited about new signings and by that point I will have started my new chapter. I could have been playing in front of the fans on the last day of the season and it would have been great, but that's not the case and behind the scenes I have still had a really positive reception. My love for the Club has grown from day one to where it is now, and now it's time for me to take my experiences into my next chapter.
It would have been nice to have had the fans in for your final game to give you the send off you deserve...
Yeah down the line it might be one of those moments that make you feel a little bit sadder, but it's just one of those things. I've said there are no fairytales in football and all I'm thinking is that I wish the best for the good people at the Club. My teammates that will be here next season also have my best wishes.
You've mentioned one of the special games in your time here, Chambo - Charlton away. What others stand out? You've got Watford away, the header against QPR, scoring against Sheffield Wednesday...
They're all sort of in a bubble and I can't pick a particular one out. We obviously had the season in the play-offs where we could have capitalised and the season after that we lost Murph [Daryl Murphy] and didn't necessarily replace him too well. There are a lot of things that could have gone differently but I look back on my time at the Club, and contributions and know that my memories will become stronger and more vivid. The reaction that I have received since it was announced that I was leaving has proved to me that I have had a positive influence on this club. I spoke to so many people on Monday saying goodbyes and since then I've received messages from footballers all over the country. Someone like Aaron Cresswell who obviously played here. he sent a message and it's those well wishes and good times that I carry forward rather than one moment in particular.
"It's been a hell of a ride and I thank everyone that has been a part of it."
What's your final message to the supporters, Chambo? We mentioned that they haven't had the chance to say goodbye in person...
Just thank you for taking to me from day one really. They demanded the fist pump which became quite iconic and it's a shame we didn't see it on better occasions sometimes. But it's been a hell of a ride and I thank everyone that has been a part of it and everyone that has supported me. Yes in football you always have your critics and sometimes you don't appreciate what you've got until it's gone, but thanks to everyone for making me feel at home and allowing me to live my life so well in the area. I hope I've been a good guy at this football club and a good player and thank you to everyone because it's something I will never forget.
You're right, it would be rude not to finish on the fist pump...
It just sort of happened and it's ironic because we were struggling at the time. It was pure relief when we got the 1-0 win at Birmingham and it just came out. We then won the next game and the fans were going 'oooooooh' like building me up to do it again. I know it's corny but it's something I enjoyed and it's something I have missed over the last few years because we haven't had too many of them. When you're struggling like that you just want to win the game then get on to the next one. But as a moment it's something I will saviour because it represented that we are all in this together. I've only ever given my all and I've always played with my heart on my sleeve and I've never left anything out there - I think people will recognise and remember that. People will remember those days for as long as they can and it's something we can all look back on and smile about.
On behalf of everyone at ITFC, thank you, Chambo.