'I lost focus on the job in hand' - Former striker Bent on dealing with Premier League links while at Ipswich

Darren Bent, pictured during his early years as an Ipswich Town player and now working as a pundit. Picture: PA

Darren Bent, pictured during his early years as an Ipswich Town player and now working as a pundit. - Credit: PA

Former Ipswich Town striker Darren Bent has revealed how links with big clubs during his younger years saw him take his mind of his game. 

The Town academy graduate, who now works in the media, came through the ranks at Portman Road before departing for Charlton in 2005, having netted 55 goals for his boyhood clubs. 

Before ultimately joining the Addicks for £2.5million Bent was linked with the likes of Manchester City, Everton, Newcastle and Aston Villa, with the striker admitting talking of a move to the big time saw him lose focus. 

Charlton Athletic's Darren Bent (R) celebrates with team-mate Darren Ambrose after scoring the 4th g

Darren Bent left Ipswich Town for Charlton Athletic in 2005 - Credit: PA

However, during his final season at Ipswich in 2004/05, Bent believes he got his mindset right and ultimately secured his move to the Premier League.

“It affects everybody differently,” Bent said on talkSPORT. 

“Some people will go out there thinking ‘I’ve got to perform well’ and it can go against you. That happened to me, especially in my younger days at Ipswich Town when I was being linked to some clubs in the Premier League. 

“It’s in the back of your mind knowing these teams are watching you or you will hear a rumour that someone’s coming – you can’t help but think about that because everyone wants to play in the Premier League and it’s the best league in the world. 

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“I’m going out there thinking ‘I have to play well’ and that will take the focus off the job in hand because I’m thinking I want to play well to get a move. 

“It didn’t help me because I started thinking ‘I have to play well for this person’ rather than going out there and playing well for the team. 

“I got the move (to Charlton) eventually because I forgot about all the hype going on and just focussed on what I was doing.” 

Following two years at Charlton, Bent moved to Tottenham for more than £16m before moves to Sunderland and then Vila saw him pass the £50m total in cumulative transfer fees. 

He joined Derby on a free transfer in 2015 before finishing his career on loan at Burton Albion in 2017/18. 

In total, Bent scored 216 goals in 568 career club games, while also winning 13 England caps, scoring four times. 

He was named in the preliminary squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but was omitted when Fabio Capello cut the group to 23 ahead of the tournament. 

Tottenham Hotspur's Darren Bent celebrates his goal during the UEFA Cup First Round First Leg match

Bent joined Tottenham for more than £16m - Credit: PA