Bowditch will be patient
WE live in world where everyone is always in a hurry, we demand speedy cars, fast food, swift service – rush, rush, rush.How refreshing then to meet a footballer who is prepared to bide his time, learn his trade and does not want to push himself too far, too soon.
WE live in world where everyone is always in a hurry, we demand speedy cars, fast food, swift service – rush, rush, rush.
How refreshing then to meet a footballer who is prepared to bide his time, learn his trade and does not want to push himself too far, too soon.
Meet Dean Bowditch, a striker who has spectators sitting up that extra inch when he gets the ball, a finisher who has a former England goal-getter drooling at the mouth when he sees him in full flow, and teenager who went on at Carrow Road and made himself an instant hero to Blues' fans by helping to set up the two goals which gave them derby victory.
But so laid back he is almost horizontal.
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He walks even taller than that day in March when he made his debut as a 16-year-old; now at 17 years old, he is in the middle of a growth spurt and filling out nicely.
Relaxed in training gear, Dean wanders in to meet me with the confident swagger of a gun-slinger, but with a little trepidation of someone giving his first big interview to the press.
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But any nerves disappear as we settle down and talk about football, his immediate ambitions and his chilled out approach to the future.
"If you are too uptight and nervous you don't play your best. The first couple of games in pre-season I was nervous but once you get on a roll you enjoy it and I'm just taking it step by step and learning from mistakes," he said.
Bowditch was part of the group which went on the pre-season trip to Sweden but with the help of so many other young guns, including old hand Darren Bent, he didn't feel fazed, although a year ago he would never have dreamed of being in the first-team squad.
"Aidan Collins and Gerard Nash were there and it was a good way to get back into the swing of things, get used to other people and even get used to things yourself. If you can get into the groove of things then you can chill out and play relaxed.
"It was brilliant for us. There were quite a few of us Academy boys but the older players mix easily. We are just one happy family and it was not just about the XI but the whole 19."
With Pablo Counago, Marcus Bent and Darren Bent firing on all cylinders, Bowditch knows he will not get a sniff of a starting spot just yet but is prepared to be patient.
He said: "At this stage I'm not really working for a place. It is case of me trying to play my best in training and in these games and if the manager spots you he might put you in again.
"We young players don't have a fear, there is no pressure on us just yet. I'm only 17 so I'm still a little boy in footballing terms really. I know I could still be playing for the Under-19s or in the reserves so I'm not going to worry. If I'm in the team I will be on top of the world and if I was picked against Norwich again, for example, I would love to play but a game is a game and I will play in whatever team and I will be happy.
"When you get older I guess there is more fear, more pressure but not for me just now."
But that does not mean Bowditch lacks ambition and he does not hesitate when asked about this season's goals.
"Promotion for the club.
"For me just to play as much as possible. If I'm not playing I won't be crying my eyes out, I will just try my best each day and if I get in that's brilliant."
One squad he wants to continue being a regular in is England – at whatever level. His eyes sparkle when representing the nation is mentioned.
He purred: "Playing for your country is something else. Playing first team for Ipswich is special but it has something extra when you put on that shirt with the Three Lions. It is such an honour and I always feel so proud. The first time I played I was so emotional, it was special."
Like any star-struck teenager he recalls his favourite England moments. He was not born when manager Joe Royle was the country's centre-forward so he opts for more recent times.
"The Greece game when Beckham scored the free-kick. That has to be the best."
His other heroes include Michael Owen and Teddy Sheringham but he also speaks highly of his Portman Road competition.
He said: "There are five or six strikers here with so much quality. They are different class. Darren plays for England, Marcus has so much strength, Pablo played for Spain and you learn different things from them. For example Darren, he gets the ball and runs at people, or he will just touch and go. Marcus works hard and has got pace and strength. Pablo gets the ball to feet, gets set and defenders can't get the ball. I think I will try that and if it comes off I will do it again but mostly they do different things all the time so they are never predictable."
His own short career has brought up a few good memories already including THAT debut against Norwich when he read in the EADT that he was in the squad for Norwich after playing so well the night before for the reserves.
He recalls: "That week completely changed everything for me. It was an amazing six days. I was in the reserves one day and the next I was in the squad for Norwich, then I was told I was on the bench, and next thing I knew I was playing.
"It didn't sink in at the time, I remember phoning my mum to say I was on the bench and it just went from there.
"In the first five minutes Darren Ambrose got a knock and I was told to warm up and it was pretty scary in front of all those Norwich fans and I was thinking 'Dear God, what is going to happen to me'. Although I wanted to go on at that stage my heart was beating too fast for me to go on that early in the game really. Luckily Darren got up and then with 20 minutes to go the Gaffer said I was going on and by then I was fine.
"I just thought go out and enjoy myself. The Gaffer was good like that; he was laughing and joking and didn't put any pressure on.
"For the fans it is the most important game there is, the big derby and all that, but he was relaxed and put me at ease.
"Mind you my first touch showed the nerves although I was all right five minutes after that."
It was a glimpse followed by three other first-team appearances. He has yet to score at senior level – but no rush, plenty of time.