The career of former Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers was recognised at the recent EFL Awards last weekend. Stuart Watson caught up with the 38-year-old after he picked up his trophy.


There was a look of genuine surprise on Luke Chambers' face as he was called up to the stage at the EFL Awards.

Shock then turned to a look of deep pride and contentment. The 38-year-old clutched his hefty silver trophy tight and shared a look with dad Les in the crowd. At last, he could feel the warmth of appreciation. At last, he had a happy ending.

The Sir Tom Finney award is given in recognition of player who has made an 'outstanding contribution to football and the Football League'. Former recipients include the likes of Adebayo Akinfenwa, Jobi McAnuff, Rickie Lambert, Kevin Davies and Kevin Phillips.

Chambers joins them as a recipient due to the fact he is seventh in the list of all-time Football League appearance makers, having played 842 times across all competitions for Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest, Ipswich Town and Colchester United. That works out, on average, at 42 games a season over 20 years. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Luke Chambers (second right) is presented with the Sir Tom Finney trophy at the EFL Awards.Luke Chambers (second right) is presented with the Sir Tom Finney trophy at the EFL Awards. (Image: Shutterstock)

He captained all four of his clubs, giving everything on and off the pitch. At Ipswich, he played through injuries, had academy players living in an annex at his house and often played out of position. He always put the we before me.

Yet so often the lines between his personal contribution and the deeper issues at the clubs he represented became blurred.

After nine seasons at Portman Road, he was discarded by Paul Cook with a 'quick and to the point' conversation. His final match for the club was played in an empty stadium due to Covid. Two years later, he was discarded by newly-appointed Colchester boss Ben Garner and a lengthy playing career finished with little fanfare. 

"When my phone rang in the middle of the afternoon and it was (Ipswich Town chief executive) Mark Ashton, I was like, ‘Right, I've got to take this, Kieran (McKenna) might want a new ball boy or something!’" joked Chambers, in self-deprecating fashion.

East Anglian Daily Times: Luke Chambers played close to 400 games for Ipswich Town.Luke Chambers played close to 400 games for Ipswich Town. (Image: Pagepix)

"He told me I’d been nominated for this award, so I looked into who’d received it before and what it represents..."

With the achievement only just hitting him, Chambers continued: "Do you know what, I’ve never been one for personal accolades. I just gave everything for the cause, sometimes to the detriment of myself and personal gain, so to be recognised at the end is amazing. 

“No-one can question my dedication, my commitment, my discipline, my honesty, my desire. My footballing ability, at times, maybe! But that’s by the by.  

“What this means, for the sacrifices I’ve made since 16 years old, and all the highs and lows... It’s something that’s going to be in the record books now for a long time. When it actually happens to you... it’s nice."

It was a surprise when Chambers hung up his boots last summer. Another 40+ game campaign would have seen him move up to fourth in English football's all-time domestic appearances list, possibly even third depending on how many games Dean Lewington played for MK Dons. Was he not tempted to chase some record numbers?

East Anglian Daily Times: Luke Chambers, pictured after signing for Ipswich Town in 2012.Luke Chambers, pictured after signing for Ipswich Town in 2012. (Image: Newsquest)

"I don't think I was ever going to catch Peter Shilton (1,005 games) was I?" he laughed.

“Look, the way (the exit) was handled at Colchester, after playing 200 games in two seasons, I felt that was enough for me. I didn’t want my career to be defined by individual’s decisions anymore. I went out on my terms of playing every game, still feeling good in my body and it just felt like the right time to move on to something new.

“I've got my own academy, I’ve got a building company and a clothing/fashion brand that me and some friends started up - they're all going really well.

“I’m just enjoying the freedom that those things give me at the moment because having sacrificed every single weekend, every holiday and Christmas since you’re 16 years old is a lot to bear. To go back into that straight away is not something I’m ready to do just yet.

“I’m really in a good spot at the moment. I really carried a lot. Without probably even knowing it, you carry a lot of it with you – the disappointment, the winning, the losing, the drawing, the responsibility, the expectation. So to not have that each weekend and to just come and watch a football match for enjoyment has been great."

Which brings us on to the incredible journey Ipswich Town have been on over the last 18 months.

East Anglian Daily Times: Luke Chambers wore his heart on his sleeve throughout his playing career.Luke Chambers wore his heart on his sleeve throughout his playing career. (Image: Pagepix)

"I’ve stayed based in sunny Suffolk, so the club doing well is only going to be good for me, my family and everyone around the area - it just brings so many people together," he says.

"I watch how well the boys are doing, how well the club’s doing, how well it’s run, how good the facilities are there now, it’s just fantastic. 

“It's great to see a man like Kieran, having met him quite a few times and knowing what he’s about, doing well. He’s an unbelievable human being. He knows how to look after people, he knows how to get his points across. The way he handles himself and the responsibility of being in charge of such an enormous football club like Ipswich Town and the institution that it is... He’s a credit to us as a football club.

"For me, he is Ipswich Town now. And he needs to be kept at the club to carry out the plan that Mark (Ashton) and everyone else has put in place. Long may the success continue. 

“Do I think they'll get this promotion over the line? Yeah, without a doubt." 

Having sat alongside McKenna and Ashton at the EFL Awards, is there a chance that Chambers could re-join the club in some capacity in the future?

“We’ll see," he said. "Me and Mark have had quite a few chats over the last few months. I never expect anything from the club. I was looked after very well when I played for the club, I gave everything to the club. Since that relationship ended, a lot has happened and it’s a totally different football club. 

“But I’ve always said that if there’s anything I can do with them, for them or alongside them then absolutely I will. It’s my home, it’s my club and I would still, to this day, help in any way I can."