‘I had someone tweet me saying they were going to get my name tattooed on their backside if I signed!’ – Judge on staying at Ipswich Town
PUBLISHED: 15:51 08 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 08 April 2019
Alan Judge signed a new two-year at Ipswich Town last week. Here’s what the Irishman had to say about putting pen to paper.
Q: It must have been nice to get your first win as an Ipswich Town player on Saturday (2-1 at Bolton)?
A: Yeah! It’s the longest I’ve had to go without winning in my career. I’m not used to not winning that many games, so it was good. I enjoyed it.
We’re all just enjoying ourselves at the minute. The good thing about Saturday is I felt we could have gone up another two or three gears. We didn’t exactly pepper their goal, but we played really well and the big man (Collin Quaner) finished off two really good chances.
We could easily have that end of season feel here, but we don’t. Players still have a lot to prove ahead of next season and the lads know they need to perform to be in the manager’s thoughts.
Q: Everyone is delighted you have signed the new deal. What made you want to stay?
A: People have asked me ‘why?’ It’s quite easy – I’m playing. I had long enough not playing (two years out injured), I’m enjoying myself at the moment so I couldn’t see why not.
I wanted to have my future set so I could concentrate on my football, move the kids and get them into schools. It’s a nice part of the world to do it.
Q: Where there other offers on the table?
A: Not at this moment in time, no. To be honest, family being settled and me playing is the most important thing for me.
When you hit 30 you see players getting one-year deals. I do feel like I’m as fit as I was at 28. I feel like I am in those years and back to where I was after breaking the leg. I feel as though I can go on for another three or four years at least.
Q: Many wondered whether you might wait and see if there was any Championship interest...
A: I can’t really tell the future. All I know is this was put in front of me and I thought ‘sure, why not?’ I’m enjoying my time here, everyone has taken to me and I have felt at home. It was quite easy.
The gaffer talked about his vision for next year and what he wanted to do when he had a full pre-season. I was intrigued to what he had to say.
Q: Were your team-mates on at you to sign?
A: Chambo (Luke Chambers) has been on at me. Nolo (Jon Nolan) tried to get me in a headlock! The boys are a good bunch of lads and that added to the appeal.
Q: Did you speak to (Republic of Ireland manager) Mick McCarthy about whether it might harm your international chances being in League One?
A: I did speak to him. He said it would be no problem and that as long as I keep performing then I’m in the shop window for him.
He said he’d been picking players from League One this year and knows what I’m like as a player. That made it easy once he gave the go ahead on that front.
And he spoke very highly about everyone here too.
Q: Was that a deal breaker then?
A: It was in my mind, I would be lying if I said otherwise. I think that speaks for the way Mick is.
Q: You said before that playing in your preferred position, centrally, would play a big part in your decision. Yet, recently, you’ve been playing on the left, albeit with, it seems, licence to roam.
A: The gaffer’s a bit light on left wingers at the moment so I have no problem with that. Obviously I do favour playing in the middle of the pitch, but I think wherever you me I’ll always end up in the middle of the pitch one way or another!
That’s the good thing with the gaffer, he’s allowed me to do that and I think that’s how you get the best out of me.
I had it under Mark Warburton, I had it under Dean Smith and now I’m having it under Paul Lambert. Hopefully I’ll stick one or two in the net soon.
I can also play as No.6 or a No.8. I did that for Mark Warburton when we first got to the Championship. I played as the sitter and Dougie (Jonathan Douglas) played as the box-to-box midfielder.
I do enjoy that role, but at the moment I do see myself as having one or two more years at No.10.
Q: The fans have really taken to you here, have you felt that?
A: I’ve always been lucky in that respect. Even at Blackburn, where I didn’t play much, I was quite close with the fans. It was the same at Notts County and Brentford.
I’m one of those lucky ones that the fans just take to. I’ve felt their support here.
I had someone tweet me saying they were going to get my name tattooed on their backside if I signed. I think I’ll give that one a miss!
Q: You’re 30 now. You touched on it just now, do you think the two years out injured might help you prolong your career?
A: People say I’ve missed out on my prime, but I don’t see it like that.
I’m still getting my fitness. Next year I think you’ll another big difference in me.
I said to the manager I wanted to play as many games as I can this year and that will put me in good stead for next year.
I think with the injury I was able to work on a lot of things physical wise. That will put me in good stead. Instead of maybe finished at 32/33, with the way I play and the kicks you get, maybe it will put me into Ginge (James Collins)’s age, 35!
I know I can do it.
Q: Winning things is what players want to do. Was the chance to be part of what will hopefully be a promotion-chasing team next year a big part of your decision?
A: Definitely. I did a similar thing with Brentford. I was at Blackburn, it wasn’t working out for me, I could have stayed in the Championship but I saw Brentford doing quite well in League One and thought ‘I’d like to be a part of that, maybe get a promotion’.
Getting that promotion was probably one of the best things in my career. I look forward to hopefully getting another one.
Q: Are there comparisons with Ipswich now – the manager, the playing style etc – and that Brentford team you went up with?
A: I think so. We’ve been playing a lot of good one, two-touch stuff for a while just without the end product. And now the gaffer will have a full pre-season to implement exactly what he wants.
I know he’s been here for four or five months now, but it is hard to change the playing style in the middle of a season.
We’re looking forward to next season. I do see signs of what things could be like here and that’s what intrigued me and made me want to stay and see if I can get another promotion under my belt.
Getting honours, getting caps for your country is what you want to do. You get a taste for it and you want more. I got a taste for it at Brentford when we got promoted and then had a good season in the Championship. I want more of that.
I’d like to try and help the lads make that happen here.
Q: So it is possible to try and play your way out of League One?
A: I think in League One there are a lot of teams that do play football. Four years ago I was in there with Brentford and we played a lot of football. A lot of other teams did as well.
I still watch one or two games of League One football and I see teams playing good football. Obviously there are games where teams go back to front, but I think it’s a bit better than people think.
Q: You return to Brentford on Wednesday night. How do you reflect on your time there?
A: Fondly. I had five years there had lots more good times than bad.
Going up from League One, the first year in the Championship (finishing fifth) and then being named in Team of the Year...
People never expected us to even survive in that league, so to finish fifth and out-pass and out-play so many teams was unbelievable.
Wednesday is just another game to me at the moment, but it will be good to go back and I’ll probably think about it more afterwards.
I had unbelievable support from the backroom staff there after my injury. If it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have got back playing. They put a lot of work in with me as I did with them.
I’d like to think I’ll get a good reception. I did a few good things for them and I always had a good rapport with the fans there.
Q: Were you thinking you might finish your career there at one stage?
A: You do and you don’t. I broke my leg and the club can’t stand still. The club was playing a certain way, they’ve now changed the way they play, which is fair enough, so I wasn’t expecting them to wait around for me.
That’s just the way things work out. I never left there feeling bitter or anything like that. As I said, I had more good times there than bad.
It’s a good club. I think that’s down to the owner (Matthew Benham). He’s put a lot of money in, they’re getting a new stadium, but hopefully we can get one over them on Wednesday.
Q: How bright is the future here with the youngsters coming through?
A: We’ve got good players. I thought Doz (Andre Dozzell) played really well at the weekend. He’s a very good footballer. It’s good for him to play in games where players maybe want to leave a little bit on you. He showed he can do it physically.
“Flynn (Downes), Teddy (Bioshop)… They are good players and good lads. If I can give them any advice then I will. I’ve been through a bit and I’d like to think I have one or two things I can share with them.
I was quite lucky at Blackburn when I was coming through, we had a lot of good senior professionals. Dougie (Jonathan Douglas) was there, Ryan Nelson, I had (Marcus) Tugay. They all looked after me and I like to think I could do that here.
Q: And these are all players that play in your position, central midfield...
A: There are a lot of midfielders here and everybody is chasing a game. I think the manager has shown he will give players a go and in football you always know if you don’t perform you won’t be in the team.
I always want to try and add to my reputation rather than take away from it when I play. That’s why I play the way I do. I always give everything I can.
Q: Are you a different type of player now to the one pre-injury?
A: I’m probably not as quick as I used to be, but I play more clever. There is more one/two-touch things rather than trying to drive with the ball.
When I look at Teddy (Bishop), I used to do what he does. Now maybe I don’t have that bit of pace, but I feel I’m making up for it with my passing and movement.
I give the ball to Teddy to beat two or three players because I know he can do that.
I’m more similar to Doz (Andre Dozzell) now in terms of playing one and two touch football. I’ve adapted my game to get into certain areas a little bit quicker.
I don’t think my vision is different or anything. I’m just missing a goal. This is the longest I’ve gone without one so hopefully it will happen soon enough.