Big interview: Luke Varney says Ipswich Town ‘family’ deserve success
Luke Varney has put aside his own injury heartbreak to issue an emotional good luck message to Ipswich Town ahead of their gargantuan match against Norwich City this lunchtime.
The 32-year-old forward is set for a six-month spell on the sidelines after rupturing his Achilles tendon in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against the Canaries at Portman Road.
That result has left the Championship play-off semi-final tie between the fierce regional rivals finely-poised heading into today’s second leg at Carrow Road (12.15pm).
And in an interview which epitomises the spirit in the Blues camp, Blackburn loanee Varney – out of contract in the summer – has given a brilliant insight as to why Mick McCarthy’s underdogs can upset the odds against their bigger budget Norfolk neighbours and book their place in the final at Wembley.
The former Charlton, Derby, Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth and Leeds man, who will watch the game at his family home in Leicester, said: “I must admit I was quite upset at the time of the injury, what with it happening in such a big game, but as the week has gone on I’ve felt better about it and now I’m just looking forward to watching the game as a fan.
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“I’ve enjoyed my time at Ipswich so much and to have started a game of that magnitude showed me how much people thought of me and how I’d been playing. I certainly put everything into my time there.
“I’ve had a lot of clubs in my career, but – and I’m not saying this lightly – being at Ipswich has been my highlight.
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“I know that’s a big thing to say, considering I was only there for a couple of months, but I just felt like a real family member from day one.
“I’ve never been at a club that’s so united. The manager has called me three times since the injury and has promised that the club will help me get fit again. A few of the lads visited me in hospital last Sunday and the fans have been so supportive too.
“I’m not on social networking or anything like that so speaking to the newspaper is probably the best way for me to say a big thank you to the Ipswich Town fans.
“When I first signed people probably doubted whether I was the right player to bring in on loan, but I knew I’d give everything I could.
“I’ve had nothing but positive feedback and my brother tells me that a lot of people have been wishing me well on social networking this week.
“Ipswich Town fans are the best set of fans I’ve ever come across and, again, that’s a big thing for me to say given the clubs I’ve been at.
“I just really, really hope that Ipswich Town – the staff, the players, the fans, everyone – get everything they deserve over the coming days and weeks.”
Recalling the events of last weekend, Varney stretchered off in the 30th minute only to insist he stayed and watched the rest of the match before going to hospital, he said: “I was high as a kite on gas and air. I wanted to see rest of the lads before I went off to hospital and I also wanted to apologise to Steven Whittaker because I’d had a right go at him.
“I’d caught him with an accidental knee in the back and there’d been a few words exchanged. So when I felt that excruciating pain in my heel area I was convinced that he’d booted me back in revenge.
“Murph (Daryl Murphy) and the ref were telling me ‘no-one was near you’, but I was effing and blinding and not having any of it.
“When I watched it back I was quite embarrassed and I wanted to make sure I could apologise. Steven did come in afterwards and he said he understood and wished me well. Cameron Jerome came in too to wish me well, which I thought was a nice touch. I like to think I’d do the same if it was an opposition player too.”
He continued: “I was at Ipswich hospital all day Sunday. Noel Hunt came and visited and treated me to a Nandos. The hospital told me I should only go out for about an hour or so but it ended up being about three or four. Skusey came and visited me as well.
“I had the operation in London on Monday and I was back home in Leicester by three o’clock on Tuesday. I’ve now just got to keep my foot up for 50 minutes in every hour.” With McCarthy haven promised that Ipswich will do everything they can to help Varney return to full fitness, he said: “That’s nice to hear. I’m just so determined to get back and play for Ipswich Town again.
“Six months ago, when I was out of the picture at Blackburn, I’d lost a little bit of love for the game. That’s why I’m so grateful to Mick McCarthy and Ipswich Town. At my age people can start clocking off, but I’m more desperate to play than ever before.
“I just want to be part of Ipswich Town Football Club.
“I feel positive because I was in the best shape of my career and I’ve always been quite a quick recoverer.
“They’ve given me six months as a broad figure but I think I can get back sooner than that. I’ve already been doing some dips on my crutches.”
He added: “Going back to Blackburn and wearing an Ipswich Town top recently wasn’t strange at all. Even though I’ve been here such a short time, it feels like I’ve been at Ipswich all season, longer in fact. The transition was so easy, the easiest of my career.
“I’ve never been at a club where one centre forward is selected over another and there’s not a single hint of bad feelings, no ‘I should be the one playing’ from the one that missed out.
“The first thing I said to Ando (Paul Anderson) when he came into the dressing room last weekend was ‘See, I told you, you should have started’. That’s just the overall feeling about the place. We all want each other to do well.” Looking ahead to this lunchtime’s second leg against Norwich, Varney said: “I vowed last weekend that I would definitely be at Carrow Road, but I asked the consultant and he’s said it might not be a great idea. If I put my foot down it just swells up and I’m not sure Norwich will that accommodating when it comes to finding me a seat where I can my leg up!
“I must admit, even though I was only on the pitch for 25 minutes, I cold see they weren’t comfortable with what we were doing last weekend. We drove on from the first whistle and had them on the back foot at times. We were actually a little bit disappointed we couldn’t nick a win.
“We’re going there with even more confidence than we had going into the tie.”