Dream move for Pim

DUTCH defender Pim Balkestein completed his “dream move” to Ipswich Town yesterday.The 21-year-old put pen to paper on a two-year deal, with the option of a third year, for an undisclosed fee at Portman Road.

Carl Marston

Ipswich soccer

By Carl Marston

DUTCH defender Pim Balkestein completed his “dream move” to Ipswich Town yesterday.

The 21-year-old put pen to paper on a two-year deal, with the option of a third year, for an undisclosed fee at Portman Road.

Frustrated by his lack of chances back home at Dutch top division club Heerenveen, Balkestein is now looking to make his presence felt in the English Championship, with one eye on a future in the Premiership.

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“I have always dreamed of playing football in England,” enthused Balkestein, who is a 6ft 3ins central defender.

“I like to tackle hard and play a hard defence, and I think that England will suit my style of play. Referees blow up to much in Holland.

“It has been frustrating for me at Heerenveen. I played lots of games, but not competitive matches. I was desperate to play, but the manager always went for experience, so I have had to make a move to improve myself and play on the big-stage.

“Everyone in Holland knows all about Ipswich Town, going back to the days of Frans Thijssen and Arnold Muhren.

“There was more than one Premiership club after me, and seven or eight Championship clubs, but once I had come over for a trial at Ipswich, I knew that I wanted to come here. The feeling was right.

“I played in a friendly at Tottenham (3-1 win) behind closed doors, and I learned a lot from just talking to someone like Fabian Wilnis all week. It's better for me to come to a Championship club, because I didn't want to come over and just be on the bench in the Premiership. But I'd like to play there in a few years,” added Balkestein.

Town boss Jim Magilton insisted that he was “not concerned” by Balkestein's lack of competitive experience at Heerenveen.

Magilton said: “I'm ecstatic that Pim has signed for us. We knew he was available, and it was beneficial that he come over and had a trial with us first, so that we could look at him and he could look at our set-up.

“He realises that he has to make a move, and obviously it's a big decision for him moving away from home for the first time. But he has a good family set-up, and with us he will hopefully become the player that he wants to become.

“He is a centre-half with a wonderful left foot, which is very important. He is an aggressive, good tackler, and he's very ambitious.

“Pim comes from a good footballing background, and he wants to play and to succeed. We have got him for a good price, a fantastic price in fact, even though it is undisclosed.

“He has the potential to be a very good player, but he could slot in straight away. Pre-season will be a very important time for him. He will be put under the microscope now.

“Dutch players have done very well over the years at Ipswich, and hopefully he will carry on that wonderful tradition,” added Magilton.

Balkestein is Town's first summer signing, although Simon Hunt was also officially unveiled as Town's new overseas scout yesterday. The 45-year-old held a similar position when George Burley was the Ipswich boss.

Magilton is looking to bolster his defence still further, with Leicester City's Gareth McAuley still high on his shopping list.

“I can't really comment on Gareth McAuley, although I think he could do a job for us. It's a case of watching this space. We need one or two more lads with more experience,” continued Magilton.