De Vos advises Naylor to enjoy big day

BLUES skipper Jason De Vos has compared Richard Naylor's testimonial to a wedding day - only with far more people watching on.Happily married man Naylor will overcome his nerves, and nightmares, to receive thanks from a demanding mistress that he has served so well for the past 15 years man and boy, as Ipswich remembers its most outstanding day of the past decade.

By Derek Davis

BLUES skipper Jason De Vos has compared Richard Naylor's testimonial to a wedding day - only with far more people watching on.

Happily married man Naylor will overcome his nerves, and nightmares, to receive thanks from a demanding mistress that he has served so well for the past 15 years man and boy, as Ipswich remembers its most outstanding day of the past decade.

De Vos was a player at Dundee United when George Burley's side demolished Barnsley in an epic play-off final at Wembley, with Naylor weighing in with a vital goal in the 4-2 win.


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But he knows what an occasion it was and is looking to be part of the celebrations on Saturday and to honour a team-mate for whom he has great respect.

“I was at Dundee United at the time and didn't watch the final although I knew Ipswich had got promoted. I did watch the Bolton 5-3 game; not that there is much chance of anyone ever forgetting it as the gaffer has been known to remind me of it often enough.”

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The Canadian international has urged Naylor to soak up the whole day and compared it to another rare moment in life.

De Vos said: “It is like your wedding. You rarely get all your friends together in one place, so it is really important to enjoy the day and for everyone else to enjoy it too. I hope he has a great day on Saturday and the fans turn out for him and he really enjoys the occasion.

“Bam Bam is a great guy. He is as honest as they come. He doesn't pull punches, will speak his mind and sticks up for what he believes in.

“When he crosses the white line he is 100% committed and as captain I have never had to tell him to pull up his socks because he is totally reliable.

“The image of a footballer is a Ferrari-driving stereotype but there are few that are really like that and Bam Bam is as opposite to that as it comes. He is a quiet family man who loves his three kids, is a genuine honest guy who is not flash in the slightest.”

Naylor was dropped for the 3-1 win at QPR last week but De Vos is confident his defensive partner will claw his way back into the side.

“If anyone has the right mentality to get back in the team it is Bam Bam. He has been written off by various managers in the past but he always bounces back. He has the personality to be successful and that is why he has been at a big football club like this for more than 10 years.”

With three clubs in the UK under his belt before he joined Town, De Vos accepts he, like a vast majority of professional footballers, will never be honoured in such a way. He said: “I was saying to the young lads that they should enjoy the experience because it would be the only testimonial they will ever be involved in. The nature of the business now is that players come and go through the turnstiles and it is rare that a club will keep a player for 10 years.

“Ipswich is a rarity in that they do that and it remains a family club. I have said before that I wish I had come to Ipswich earlier in my career because I'm sure I would have stayed here for the duration.”

The Blues skipper knows he and the rest of the current side, Wilnis and Naylor excepted, risk becoming the villains of the piece if they beat the legends of 2000.

De Vos joked: “A 5-5 draw would be ideal.

“There is an expression in football that you can never go back, but to be able to get those guys back and have a reminder of the great times the players and fans had when they won promotion will be great for us players too because it will be a chance to have fun and play without pressure.

“In a way it is a shame we have a break coming on the heels of the win at QPR because we want to crack on. On the other hand it is a welcome break from a physical stand-point and we can bed in the ideas the gaffer has.

“We can also go out and just have an enjoyable game of football. But of course we want to win.

“We always want to win and you can't switch that off. From the youngest lad at the Academy to the oldest, you want to win and never lose that. John Wark is a classic example of that, he still plays at weekends and in five-a-sides and even in training you can see he has that desire to win.”

Tickets are now on sale for Richard Naylor's Testimonial, which takes place on Saturday, kick-off 1.30pm.

Tickets are priced at £15 for adults, £5 concessions and £3 juniors and can be purchased from the ticket office by calling 08701 110555 or from Planet Blue stores.

To round off the day in style Richard Naylor will be hosting “The Decade Dinner Dance”. Tickets are still available for the black tie event which will include live music, four-course meal and disco and will be held at the Elizabeth Hotel Copdock on Saturday. For further details contact Wolfe Powell on 07711 512876 or email wolfe.powell@itfc.co.uk

Richard Naylor will also be in Planet Blue in the Buttermarket, Ipswich, to sign autographs for fans between 3.30pm and 4.30pm today.

Wembley 2000 XI

Manager George Burley

Starting line-up: Richard Wright, Gary Croft, Jamie Clapham, John McGreal, Tony Mowbray, Mark Venus, Matt Holland, Jim Magilton, Martijn Reuser and Marcus Stewart. Subs: Kelvin Davis, Tommy Miller, Ian Westlake, James Scowcroft and John Wark

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