BREAKING NEWS: He may now be 43 years old, but former Ipswich Town defender Fabian Wilnis is dusting off his boots to play for Suffolk non-league side Leiston

Fabian Wilnis salutes the crowd in action for Ipswich Town back in 2007

Fabian Wilnis salutes the crowd in action for Ipswich Town back in 2007

Former Ipswich Town fans’ favourite Fabian Wilnis is set to make a sensational return to the beautiful game by joining Ryman Premier outfit Leiston.

The charismatic ex-Town defender, who was adored by the Town faithful during his nine-year stay at Portman Road, has agreed to dust off his boots and return to the field under Leiston boss, Steve Ball, who works as a coach with Wilnis at Colchester United’s academy.

The 43-year-old made over 250 league appearances for the Blues after joining from Dutch side De Graafschap in 1999 and was one of the few Town players in modern times to have received a testimonial.

Wilnis made an instant impact on his arrival in Suffolk and nobody will ever forget his magnificent solo goal as Ipswich took the lead against a star-studded Manchester United side at Portman Road on their return to the Premier League in 2000. His comments about rivals Norwich City not being able to survive in the Premier League ‘unless they signed 15 players’ helped confirm his cult hero status.

Despite now being 43, Wilnis has kept himself in shape since retiring from the game professionally in 2008, playing a host of charity games all over the world.


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And having had a discussion with his work partner Ball, the former Town stalwart is ready to make a return to the field at Victory Road in order to help out the injury-hit Ryman Premier club (step three of the non-league pyramid).

The north Suffolk side have a growing list of players on the treatment table and, with a host of games still to be played between now and the end of April due to a fixture backlog, the former Town defender has agreed to help his colleague out until the end of the season.

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“I had a conversation with Fabian at work that escalated, and he’s agreed to sign for us,” said Ball.

“It was just a harmless conversation that turned into a serious one.

“He’s comfortably the fittest player I’ve ever seen and he’s an absolute athlete.

“He could definitely still do a job for us at the back and his Premier League experience will be a massive boost to the dressing room.”

Wilnis’ transfer is unlikely to go through in time for tomorrow’s home game against Met Police, but he could make his debut on Tuesday night when the Blues host Margate.

– See tomorrow’s East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star for an exclusive interview with Wilnis.

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