Alan Lee apologises to Ipswich Town fans for his brief spell at rivals Norwich
Alan Lee has apologised to Ipswich Town fans for his controversial spell at bitter rivals Norwich City, insisting his heart has always been very much in Suffolk.
The 35-year-old – who played more than 100 games for the Blues between 2006 and 2008 – returned to Portman Road this summer to begin his coaching career within the club’s academy, with manager Mick McCarthy having also registered him as a first team player.
Many supporters have never forgiven the Irishman for his brief loan spell with the Canaries in 2009 though, during which time he played against Town and talked about it being an ‘absolute pleasure’ to play for the Norfolk club.
“I know I’ve got some making up to do!” said the striker. “I’ll do everything I can to win them over.
“I know I got some criticism for that at the time, but I was lonely in London (at Crystal Palace), my friend (Bryan Gunn) was manager of Norwich at the time and it was an opportunity to get back up here with my family.
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“I apologise, but it was something that was right for me at that time.”
Born in Galway and capped 10 times by the Republic of Ireland, Lee fell in love with Suffolk during his time as an Ipswich player under the management of Joe Royle and Jim Magilton. And despite having spent five years away, first at Crystal Palace and then Huddersfield, he has always continued to call East Anglia home.
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He said: “I had options to keep on playing elsewhere, but we’ve just had our first child and it was time to get back home. My family have colonised Suffolk! My brother lives down here now with his wife and my mum and dad live here as well.
“I feel absolutely blessed by the way things have worked out. It’s so good to be back and I’m so happy.”
Currently working with various different age groups within the Ipswich academy, Lee admits he still has a lot to learn as a coach. He’s been playing as an over-age player in the Under-21 league, while also impressing McCarthy in first team training.
“I realise there are far better players ahead of me in the pecking order,” he said. “The four centre-forwards in the first team are fantastic players, while people like young Jack Marriott are on fire.
“Maybe I can offer something a bit different playing wise at some stage, but primarily I am here to help out in the background.
“That said, I’m going to train hard every day, like I’m starting on the Saturday, and if I get my chance then I’ll make it as hard as possible for the manager to leave me out.”