Ex-West Ham defender and England junior international Jordan Spence hungry to fulfil his potential at Ipswich Town
- Credit: James Ager
Ipswich Town have signed free agent right-back Jordan Spence until the end of the season. The former West Ham and MK Dons man, 26, spoke to the media ahead of tomorrow’s Championship game at Huddersfield.
Q: You were on trial at Ipswich last September but a deal didn’t materialise then. Had you given up on getting a move here?
A: I wouldn’t say given up, but I put it to the back of my mind. I enjoyed my time here so it was certainly a case of if the call came I’d be more than happy to come here.
It’s strange how football works, it’s strange how life works really. I’m just looking forward to it.
Q: How many trials have you been on since then?
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A: I’ve lost count to be honest and I don’t want to re-live them! It’s all good experience to learn from though. Not every trial didn’t work out because people weren’t interested. There are lots of other things involved.
Q: What’s it like going on trial and having to impress?
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A: It’s not easy, but you become desensitised to going into a new environment with 20 lads and finding your place in that. I know it’s a cliché, but you have to train and play like every day is your last day.
I didn’t know where the next training session or match would be, so now I’m looking forward to some level of stability.
Q: Did you have other options?
A: Yes, I had other options. I had a few near misses, shall we say, a few complications in certain aspects of things, but that is all water under the bridge now. I’m an Ipswich Town player and really looking forward to it.
Q: Had you always set your sights on getting a Championship club?
A: That was what I hoped. I thought I could build on what I did personally last season by playing at this level. Thankfully that has materialised.
Obviously every footballer wants to play as high as they can, every footballer thinks they should be playing higher I’m sure. If you don’t think that there is no point playing the game.
Q: You were promoted and relegated with MK Dons. What was your time with them like?
A: Football is somewhat like life with the heat turned up on it. From the adulation of the season before and getting automatic promotion to going down was hard. No-one likes being on the end of more defeats than victories.
That was disappointing, but it feels like a very long time ago now after what I’ve been through.
Q: And before that you started out at West Ham and were capped by England from Under-16 to Under-21 level...
A: I’ve got friends who I played with at England junior level that aren’t even in the game now. That’s the nature of the business.
I was at West ham from the age of 15 to 22, I played in the Premier League, had aspirations to play there more, it didn’t happen and I had to go elsewhere.
Q: What’s it been like being out of the game this season?
A: Really tough, but I’m not one to feel too sorry for myself. I get to play professional football for a living so you have to put that perspective onto it.
But it has been tough and I’ve needed support from the people close to me. I’ve made quite a few sacrifices and put quite a few miles on the car.
When life gives you lemons you make lemonade right? Hopefully I’ll look back on this time and think it catapulted me forwards. It’s been a journey of self-discovery and looking in the mirror.
It’s exciting times now though.
Q: What did you do on your weekends?
A: I watched quite a few football matches on Saturdays. Brentford is my nearest Championship club so I went there quite a lot. I to lots of different grounds. I’d like to say I’m a student of the game. I’ve done that from quite a young age.
When I wasn’t watching football I was ignoring the fact that it was taking place! My wife got a bit more time from me, but by the end of it she was ready for me to get working again!
Q: Have you managed to stay fit?
A: One of my best friends is a strength and conditioning coach at the University of East London. Training on your own in a gym is tough, but I’ve been in a competitive environment around a lot of athletes.
I’ve got my football in with a few trials, so I don’t feel rusty. I feel good to go.
I’ve been blessed with a decent set of lungs, so that should come in handy.
I feel ready to go know. We’ll see what the manager thinks.
Q: You’re contracted until the end of the season. I guess the plan is to try and earn a longer deal?
A: A deal until the end of the season feels like stability after what I’ve been through. I’ll take it a game at a time, a week at a time and we’ll see what happens.
Q: You’re 26 now. These next few years are crucial for you aren’t they?
A: Absolutely. Hopefully my best is still ahead of me.
These last few months have made me hungrier to fulfil my potential, be more consistent and be the player that I know I can be. I’ve had enough time talking about it, now it’s time to show it.
Q: A lot gets made about player power and the riches at the top of the game, but there are a lot of out-of-work footballers too isn’t there?
A: There is. A lot of my friends in the game are without a club. maybe not much is made of that side of the game, but you’re not going to get a lot of sympathy, because we’re professional footballers, but it is a tough profession. I wouldn’t swap it for anything else though. I was never looking for sympathy, I was looking for an opportunity.
Q: What’s your best position?
A: Right-back, but I’m more than comfortable playing inside one or wing-back.
Q: And your wife (Naomi Scott) is an actress right?
A: That’s right. Normally it’s the actresses that are out of work, not the footballer! She’s working on a few things and hopefully you’ll see a bit more of her this year. Hopefully we get some family success this year.