Frans would love to coach beloved Blues

BLUES legend Frans Thijssen will make a guest appearance at Portman Road on Saturday as part of Fabian Wilnis' testimonial - but the Dutchman has left open the door for a permanent reunion with the club he holds so dear to his heart.

Stuart Watson

By STUART WATSON

stuart.watson@archant.co.uk

BLUES legend Frans Thijssen will make a guest appearance at Portman Road on Saturday as part of Fabian Wilnis' testimonial - but the Dutchman has left open the door for a permanent reunion with the club he holds so dear to his heart.

The 57-year-old - who scored in each leg of Ipswich Town's historic 1981 UEFA Cup final victory - currently finds himself unattached to a club for the first time in nearly 15 years after deciding to end a seven year spell of coaching in the Middle East.

He admits that he is keen to take on a new coaching challenge sooner rather than later and has refused to rule out a return to the club which inducted him into their Hall of Fame two years ago.

Most Read

“At the moment I'm free and looking for a coaching job,” said Thijssen, who has managed and/or coached clubs in Holland, Sweden and the Middle East since retiring from playing in 1991.

“I've got a few contacts and maybe I'll get a few more contacts this weekend when I come to England.

“I'll just have to see what happens but of course I want to get back to work again. I know that most clubs have started their preparations but there will be a couple more weeks of little changes. If the season starts then there will probably be more waiting time for me.”

When asked if he would welcome a return to Portman Road as a coach, Thijssen added: “Of course. I have been thinking about England but I would need an opportunity with a club that wants to work with a foreign coach.

“I have to wait and see how the next couple of weeks go. I'll come back, enjoy my day, and see what happens.”

Thijssen's return to Portman Road comes following an invite from fellow countryman and former Ipswich player Fabian Wilnis to be part of his testimonial against Colchester United.

He will take part in a half-time five-a-side match on Saturday along with fellow Ipswich players of the past Martijn Reuser, Darren Currie, Gary Croft, John McGreal, Kevin Horlock, Jason Dozzell, Sylvain Legwinski, Simon Milton and Hermann Hreidarsson.

The former Dutch international will also be the guest of honour at Wilnis' testimonial dinner at the Town Hall later the same evening - a key opportunity for him to make the aforementioned contacts he requires.

Thijssen left Ipswich in 1983 to join Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest. That move never really took off for him though and he quickly moved on to see out the final years of his playing career in the United States and then his homeland of Holland.

His first managerial job came at Dutch side Vitesse and he soon went on to spend two years at Swedish giants Malm� FF before being sacked in 1998.

Thijssen moved back to Holland to manage De Graafschap in 1999, but in 2002 decided to take on the challenge of coaching in the Middle East.

For the first three years he was employed by the Qatar Football Association and was contracted out to various clubs, while for the last four years he has coached at numerous clubs in the fast growing Abu Dhabi League.

That spell came to an end just recently when Thijssen decided not to renew his one-year deal as Under-18 coach at Al Jazira Club and return to Europe to continue his career.

“The Abu Dhabi League is the biggest league in the Middle East and I enjoyed my time there,” said Thijssen. “I knew European and American football so it was chance for me to see a little bit of the world.

“I felt that seven years was enough though and I want to see what else is possible.”

FRANS Thijssen wants to see his beloved Ipswich Town succeed just as much as the fans.

The Dutchman - who will forever be held in the highest regard by the club's supporters for his part during those successful years of the early 80s - has travelled far and wide since his playing career came to an end.

But no matter where he has been in the world, the 57-year-old admits that he always keeps up-to-date with Ipswich's progress on and off the field.

Thijssen, who was last in Ipswich two years ago when he travelled over to be formally inducted into the club's Hall of Fame, said: “I've followed the club ever since I left and when I came over here last everyone was very optimistic. So for me last season was a little bit disappointing.

“If the club could get back to the Premier League it would be great for the fans. It's not easy though as there is a lot of money involved these days.

“Of course I know Roy Keane as a player who had a very good mentality and a very good fighting spirit. If he can bring that over to the players at Ipswich I think they will have a good chance.”

Thijssen will be back at Portman Road on Saturday to play in a five-a-side match during the half-time interval of Fabian Wilnis' testimonial match between Ipswich Town and Colchester United.

“At half-time a few of the old guys will be out there but it's only 15 minutes so it's no problem, I'll probably only get one or two touches. I just hope that there will be some older fans there that remember me,” said a modest Thijssen.

“My time at Ipswich was the best time of my career so it's always nice to go back and see some old friends.

“I hope the day goes well for Fabian because he is a player that stuck with the club for a long time and that is not something you see very often. For me it's nice to help him, while it will also be nice for me personally to come back to Ipswich.”

Frans Thijssen

- A powerful midfielder who, along with fellow Dutchman Arnold M�hren, was amongst the first group of foreigners to play in England

- Voted PFA Player of the Year in 1981 after helping Ipswich to the UEFA Cup

- Thijssen scored in both legs of that final against Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, which Town won 5-4 on aggregate

- Ipswich also finished Division One runners-up twice, as well as FA Cup semi-finalists and League Cup semi-finalists during Thijssen's four seasons at the club

- Left Ipswich in 1983 to join Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest but his spell at the City Ground lasted just weeks

- Finished his playing career at American League sides Vancouver Whitecaps and Fortuna Sittard and Dutch sides FC Groningen and Vitesse

- Scored three goals in 14 appearances for Holland