From Pot Noodles to the Premier League – Aaron Cresswell reflects on his three-year journey at Ipswich Town
- Credit: Archant
Aaron Cresswell is still pinching himself at his Premier League switch – and he is backing former employers Ipswich Town to join him the top-flight sooner rather than later.
The 24-year-old left-back departed with the good wishes of manager Mick McCarthy, team mates and fans alike last week, completing a £3.75m switch to West Ham following three impressive seasons with the Blues.
No-one begrudged the man who had just finished the campaign with 13 assists and a place in the Championship team of the year his big opportunity, especially as the club had negotiated a fantastic transfer fee – potentially worth up to £7m.
It still didn’t stop the Liverpudlian from worrying what the reaction would be among the Portman Road faithful though, such was the bond he created with them during a rollercoaster few years in which he matured on and off the pitch.
“I was a bit wary of logging on to Twitter after the move was announced, but I’ve not had one single bad message,” he explains, in an exclusive interview with the EADT and Ipswich Star.
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The fact that it was an interview he had been pro-active in setting up, speaking over the phone just days into a pre-season training camp with his new employers in the south of France, is another indication of how he arrived in Ipswich a boy and left a man.
“When I first arrived from Tranmere I was really out of my comfort zone,” he recalls, with laughter. “It was the first time I had ever lived outside of Liverpool and I moved down with my girlfriend. To start with I had my mum coming down to do the ironing and we were living off of takeaways, pot noodles and beans on toast!
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“Everyone welcomed me and helped me settle in and I’ll never forget that. During my three years at the club there were ups and downs and it’s all contributed to me growing as a player and a person.”
He may no longer be the ‘shy young man’ that staff at Playford Road fondly recall first meeting, but there are also no undertones of arrogance – a bad habit that can be picked up by those who have shot to the top.
Indeed, you get the feeling that the prospect of playing at the biggest stadiums, against the best players and appearing regularly on Match of the Day is still sinking in.
“I got a call from my agent and the next thing I knew I was having my medical,” he explains. “It all happened very quickly. There had been a bit of other interest, but when a Premier League club as big as West Ham come calling you don’t have any second thoughts.
“It’s all been a bit of blur, coming straight out here to France for pre-season. I’ve felt a little bit like the new kid at school and didn’t really know what to expect, but everyone has really welcomed me and I can’t wait to get started.
“I’ve only met the gaffer (Sam Allardyce) briefly. I’ve just got to get my head down, do as well as I can in pre-season and see where we go from there.”
Cresswell had always said that gaining promotion with Ipswich would have been the dream, killing two birds with one stone. Instead, following a spirited ninth-place finish under McCarthy’s management last season, he has had to put his own career progression first as Town prepare for their 13th successive campaign in the Championship.
“I just want to thank everyone at Ipswich Town – both gaffers (Paul Jewell and Mick McCarthy), the owner, all the staff, players and, most importantly, the fans,” he said, speaking ahead of his return to Portman Road for a pre-season friendly next Wednesday (7.45pm).
“They were the club that took a gamble on me and put faith in me and I wouldn’t be in this position now, preparing to play in the Premier League – something every young lad dreams of when they’re kicking a ball about in their garden – if it wasn’t for Ipswich.”
Can he see the Blues going up in the near future?
“There’s certainly a feel-good factor there at the moment,” he said.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the gaffer and TC (Terry Connor) and all the other staff. It’s great that they have signed three-year contracts and I see no reason why the club can’t get promoted in that time.
“I’ll always look out for Ipswich’s results and want them to do well.”