EXCLUSIVE FABIAN WILNIS INTERVIEW: ‘Our conversation progressed and I thought - yeah, why not?’ Former Ipswich Town fans’ favourite Fabian Wilnis on what made him sign for Ryman Premier club 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 has made 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.

Following a growing injury list at Victory Road, and after an escalated conversation with Leiston boss Ball, the former Blues star, now 43, agreed to sign for the north Suffolk outfit until the end of the season.

“I see Steve on near enough a daily basis at Colchester and he has asked me before if I could come along and work with the defenders at the club,” said the former Town stalwart, who made over 250 league appearances for the Blues after joining from Dutch side De Graafschap in 1999.

Wilnis continued: “We were talking just the other day and he said he’d had a few injuries.

“Our conversation progressed and I thought ‘Yeah, why not?’

“I’d seen that he’d done remarkably well since taking over at Leiston and he’s a good manager with a good coaching style.

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“I like working with Steve and wouldn’t have done it for anybody else.”

Wilnis retired from the professional game in 2008 and has been out of the competitive game since leaving Grays Athletic in 2009, but the right-back still thinks he could step in and perform when required.

“The main thing about it all is me helping the defence out - lending my experience at a higher level to them,” said Wilnis.

“Hopefully I can help them out and teach them a few things.

“If I’m needed to play then even better, I can step in.”

And despite being 43, the defender, who famously opened the scoring against a star-studded Manchester United side at Portman Road on Ipswich’s return to the Premier League in 2000, is very happy with his fitness levels.

“I’m quite fit otherwise I wouldn’t agree to do it,” added Wilnis.

“I’ve been doing a lot of long-distance running lately and have played a few charity games as well.”

Leiston manager Ball is also impressed with the defender’s fitness levels despite his age.

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

“I know he’s getting on but his body isn’t normal for someone in their early 40’s.

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

“It’s a pretty relaxed arrangement but we’ve agreed that if we need him and he’s available, then he’ll step in.

“And to be honest with you, I probably will use him.

“It’s probably a deal that will last just to the end of the season but bringing someone of his experience and knowledge into the dressing room is a big boost.”

Wilnis will not feature in tomorrow’s home game against the Metropolitan Police but he could make his debut on Tuesday night when the Blues host Margate.

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