Don’t call me greedy, says Ipswich Town new boy Stephen Hunt
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town new boy Stephen Hunt passionately rejects any suggestion that he a greedy ex-Premier League player looking for a last pay cheque.
A regular for Reading, Hull and Wolves in the top-flight, the 39-cap Republic of Ireland international turned down a number of offers when he first became a free agent before eventually signing a ‘pay as you play’ deal at Portman Road earlier this month.
Blackpool boss Paul Ince, pictured, says he pulled the plug on a deal for the 32-year-old in the summer because of the player’s ‘ridiculous demands’ – a comment which hurt and angered a man who prides himself on a fully committed playing approach and positive personality.
All those emotions then came flooding out on his Blues debut, the shaggy-haired left-winger celebrating wildly in front of the directors’ box after helping his new employers secure a dramatic 3-2 win at Bloomfield Road.
“I’ve never had a bigger insult in my life than someone calling me greedy,” said Hunt. “That’s not me. I play football because I enjoy it. That comment hurt and it was remembered. All that came out in the goal celebration.
“I always try to be honest when I do interviews and I’ll admit that I made some mistakes in turning down some of those early offers in the summer.
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“It felt like a bit of a game of poker. I was turning down offers hoping to get a better hand. It wasn’t about money though, it was more about getting the right club. I regret not taking some offers in hindsight, but walking away from Blackpool wasn’t a mistake because I still had my pride and my dignity in tact.”
Having only signed a short-term deal at Ipswich until January, Hunt – who insists he is ready to start if called upon for tomorrow’s visit of second-placed Leicester – continued: “If you look at our squad, it’s not 25/26 players, it’s 21/22 lads all rooting for each other. I’ve been at clubs where the players don’t seem to be bothered, but three quarters of this squad have never played in the Premier League and you can see their hunger to want to get there.
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“Personally I’m still as hungry as ever too. Being out the game for a few months has made me realise just how much I love the dressing room banter and that feeling of winning.
“I thought I’d get a club sooner and my pride was hurting. Now I know I have to prove myself again in order to get a long-term contract.
“Dean Saunders (ex Wolves manager) said to me ‘try to go to a club that’s winning games because you’ll come across better, your attitude towards football will be more welcome at those sort of clubs’.
“Thankfully I’m off to a winning start here, hopefully that can continue and the buzz will get greater as the season goes on. Hopefully this place can take off again.
“It’s amazing how togetherness can pull you along in this division. Obviously you need good players to stay at the top end of the table, but winning breeds confidence. The right mentality definitely plays a massive part in this division.”