Walters was once Hurst’s ‘type’… he can inspire Ipswich’s Championship new boys to follow his path
- Credit: Archant
Andy Warren takes a look at the impact Jon Walters can have at Ipswich Town following his return to Portman Road.
New Ipswich boss Paul Hurst has a ‘type’, that much is clear.
Starting with Trevoh Chalobah and ending with Jordan Graham, the first 10 players through the door at the start of his reign had a combined 13 Championship starts to their name prior to arriving at Portman Road.
A dozen of those belonged to Graham, the other Tayo Edun, with the likes of Jon Nolan, Toto Nsiala and Kayden Jackson all experiencing a first taste of the second tier.
Young, hungry players, all looking to make their mark and move up the football pyramid.
But in Jonathan Walters, they have a man who has close to 400 appearances in the top two divisions of English football, with 136 of those coming in Ipswich blue during an impressive three-and-a-half year spell.
He returns with 53 Republic of Ireland caps to his name, 14 international goals and a reputation as a reliable, hard-working, Premier League forward during his many years with Stoke.
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He returns as hungry as ever but, on paper, about as far away from Hurst’s ‘type’ as you can get.
But rewind more than a decade, to January 2007, and you will find a player who fits Hurst’s bill in every way.
Walters was a Chester City player back then, having bounced around the lower leagues after blowing chances with both Bolton and Blackburn. He has been the first to admit his attitude and approach to football was not right in those days and he faced the consequences.
He was rebuilding his career in the bottom two divisions of English football, firstly at Hull and then at Wrexham, but it was at League Two Chester he really began to hit the upward curve.
An FA Cup third round tie and subsequent replay with Ipswich that January gave him the platform he needed. With 10 goals to his name already that season, he impressed Jim Magilton enough that a £150,000 deal was done. The rest is history.
Walters is the embodiment of the career path Hurst has set out for his new Ipswich signings, with his experience surely now vital to a squad lacking in that particular attribute.
He returns a different player to the one which departed as the relationship with then manager Roy Keane crumbled in 2010, of course, but his quality and pedigree is undoubted.
Walters wants to play football, a recent tweet in which he stated he misses the game after his injury-hit season at Burnley made that very clear. But it’s possible as big an impact on Ipswich’s future may just be inspiring others to follow his lead.
He puts it best himself: “He (Paul Hurst) knows I’m not coming here to take it easy or anything,” Walters said. “He knows I’m coming here to set the standards for everyone else.
“If I can do it as a 34-year-old – and trust me, I will be in training and in games – then it’s a good motivation for the other boys to be following that.
“I’ve had the highs and the lows all the way through the career, so coming here was a turning point for me.
“It gave me a great opportunity from Chester and I can see a lot of lads in the same mould here.
“There’s no reason they can’t all go down the same route and excel because they’ve got everything here – it’s an unbelievably supportive club.
“Hopefully they can do it.”