'I'm not here to settle' - Walton sets sights high after permanent Town move
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Christian Walton hopes his move to Ipswich Town will help him finally settle off the pitch.
But he certainly won’t be settling on it.
The Blues’ biggest piece of business during this January transfer window so far has seen them lock down the goalkeeper on a long-term deal, securing the services of a player who surely should be playing his football at a higher level than League One.
But his experience during four months on loan, his love of the Ipswich Town fans and the early signs under new boss Kieran McKenna have all convinced the 26-year-old to take the plunge, leave his long-time home in Brighton and sign a long-term deal to halt a seemingly endless cycle of loan moves.
Putting down roots after a nomadic start to his career has been a major attraction for the stopper, but he is determined to ensure Ipswich Town are going places in the next few months and years.
“Everyone needs stability at some point in their lives,” Walton said in an interview with the club.
“My football career has been really good to date and I’ve really enjoyed my loan experiences and my time at Brighton, but all good things come to an end and now is the time for me to come to a club where I know the team and want to be part of the success.
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“The club wants that and I want to be part of things with the new manager. He’s come in to show what he’s all about, having had great experience at the top, top level. Being able to learn off that is hugely beneficial.
“The new goalkeeping coach, Rene (Gilmartin), has come in and I want to be a part of that as well. It’s exciting.
“I’ve had a good time during my loan. It didn’t start as well as I wanted it to but the last three months have been really successful for myself and I’ve loved every minute of being part of this.
“I think it helps when you come into a club this size because you feel proud to put on the shirt every Saturday. To make that a long-term thing is unreal.
“I’m coming here not looking to settle being the Christian Walton as I am. I want to improve and I think I can do that under this manager.
“Taking things from him is going to be key, as well as from Rene. The gaffer’s been at the top level and he’s been first class to me since we’ve been working together.
“To be working under someone like that, who has so much knowledge, is only going to benefit myself and the team.”
Since joining Brighton from Plymouth in 2013, Walton has been loaned out eight times and never managed to break into the Seagulls’ first-team, despite being highly rated at the Premier League club and seeing the door ajar for him on a number of occasions.
“That’s why I wanted that stability within my career,” Walton continued, discussing his move.
“I wanted to be somewhere settled, enjoying my football, playing in front of an amazing crowd at a stadium steeped in history.
“When you’re wanted at a place and at a club the size of this, it’s a great feeling to have.
“The club have been brilliant in helping me deal with it because it’s not an easy decision, because I’ve left a place I was at for eight years. I didn’t play the games I wanted to there but it was a tough decision to make for my life and football career.
“Going into the final year of my contract (at Brighton) I wanted to be playing football and Brighton allowed that, working with a manager I’d previously worked with (Paul Cook). Joining a club like Ipswich was a no-brainer for me to come and enjoy my football again after a season of not playing.
“For me to now be here on a long-term basis and have a future with a club who actually want to go places, with a group of people who want to be successful, is great for me.
“Ipswich is not too dissimilar to where I grew up (Cornwall). It’s by the coast with a lot of farm area. It’s a nice part of the world to be in and it’s a nice place to settle.
“I’ve been out on loan for many years, so not having stability and maybe overlooking the loan because I’m thinking about where I’m going next isn’t great.
“It’s an insecure feeling because you don’t know if you’re going to be called back or what happens if you get injured. So feeling settled off the pitch is always going to help you on it.”
After completing his move, Walton’s priority now is to help continue a promotion charge which has been ignited in the first weeks of McKenna’s reign, with four wins in five matches.
Repaying the Town supporters for their endless backing during the difficult weeks of the club’s third League One season is at the top of his agenda, too.
“It’s a giant club in this division and it’s clear for everyone to see there are some big teams in this league,” Walton said.
“To be part of something moving forward is really exciting. Hopefully now we can kick on between now and the end of the season and get that play-off spot everyone wants.
“There are a lot of two-game weeks between now and the end of the season, so this is a good opportunity for us to pick up points and try to reach our goal, which is to get into the play-offs.
“When you sign at Ipswich, it’s clear to any player that we’re the only club in the area and there are Ipswich Town fans everywhere you go.
“I had a tough start with an injury and then losing the first game (5-2 to Bolton) but when I saw fans out in Ipswich they were always supportive and asking how I was getting on.
“A lot of the players feel that. It’s been tough this season but they’ve never turned on us and have always come in their numbers, especially when the pack-out Portman Road campaign was going on over Christmas.
“To have nearly 30,000 (for the Sunderland game) was an unbelievable thing to be a part of. The fans have been first class so hopefully I and the team can keep doing well for them.”