Town star's heartache at death of friend

IPSWICH Town star Gary Roberts has revealed the heartache he endured ahead of his man-of-the-match performance in the East Anglian derby.One of his close friends, Ben Nowak, was killed while serving in Iraq exactly a week before Ipswich's Town's clash with arch rivals Norwich City on Sunday.

IPSWICH Town star Gary Roberts has revealed the heartache he endured ahead of his man-of-the-match performance in the East Anglian derby.

One of his close friends, Ben Nowak, was killed while serving in Iraq exactly a week before Ipswich's Town's clash with arch rivals Norwich City on Sunday.

Roberts, 22, who is on loan at the club and is expected to complete a permanent move to Town in January, yesterday spoke of his devastation at the death of the 27-year-old.

He said: “Ben was a close friend of mine. He loved his football and it really knocked me back when I heard the news.


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“Last week wasn't a good one for me at all. The manager gave me a few days off to go home (to Liverpool) and see his family and mine as well.

“I was very upset through the week, but knew I had to get my head right for what was a big game on Sunday.

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“I wore a T-shirt under my Ipswich shirt in tribute to Ben for the game and, although I was obviously delighted we won, what happened to Ben puts everything into perspective.

“It will change the way I look at things because sometimes in this game you can get down if things are not going your way but my mate has lost his life. That says it all.”

Roberts joined Town on loan from League Two side Accrington Stanley in October and has since established himself as a regular in the starting line-up.

Corporal Nowak, a lifelong Everton fan who helped train the club's academy team, was killed on Remembrance Sunday when his patrol boat was hit by a makeshift bomb.

A minute's silence was held before the Merseyside club's game against Bolton Wanderers at Goodison Park last Saturday.

The explosion in Iraq also killed Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott, 34, originally from Hadleigh, Warrant Officer Lee Hopkins, 35, and Marine Jason Hylton, 33.

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