Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers opens up on pressure, social media and delayed contract talks
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers has spoken candidly about the pressure of last season, how Nottingham Forest’s interest and the Blues’ delayed contract talks ‘messed with my head’ and why none of it has put him off wanting to be a manager.
The 31-year-old defender played every minute or every Championship game during what was a draining 2016/17 campaign for him emotionally, as well as physically.
He came very close to re-joining his former club of Nottingham Forest on January transfer deadline day and played through the pain after cracking his ankle at Newcastle and fracturing two ribs at Brighton.
Town waited until just two days before a trigger clause of an extra 12 months was about to expire before offering him a new two-year contract.
He gave a candid interview to the club programme ahead of last Saturday’s opening weekend 1-0 home win over Birmingham City.
PLAYING EVERY MINUTE
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“There were times last season when I got out of bed and could hardly walk. Maybe there is something wrong with me; but I have to be pulled out of games, rather than pull out.
“I missed 90 days of training and was nursed through so I could play in matches. I’m the first to admit that I’ve never been the best player in the teams I’ve played for. There have been many better players than me, but I’ve done everything with the tools that I had at my disposal and maybe what’s in my head as well.
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“I’d like to think I’ve made the best of what I’ve got and if I quit tomorrow, I’d be proud of what I’ve achieved.”
“I’m honest enough to say that I didn’t enjoy playing games last season. That’s a sad thing to say, I know. The training, yes, but not the games.
“Even when we won and I’d do the fist-pump to the fans at the end, it was more out of relief than anything else. Maybe I’m getting old, but I’m not sure you can even enjoy winning now. I know that sounds strange to say because where do you get your rewards from?
“There’s always another game around the corner though. Another 90 minutes of pressure.
“It’s a fantastic job being a footballer, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but the game has changed so much since I first started at Northampton.
“The pressure to win now seems more intense than ever and every defeat is magnified. If you lose, every result seems to be the end of the world. If you win, you are going to win the league.”
“Social media had made a big impact on that, 100%. Everyone is a reporter now, or paparazzi. Everyone is a football expert. Everyone is a Mourinho!
“People are having a say on games and they are not even there. That’s the world we live in now.
“I don’t understand players being on social media. The top players in the Premier League, yeah, I get that. They have a brand to push. They can make money out of it. Good luck to them. But players in the Championship, I don’t get that. They just get abused on a Saturday night.
“Regardless of saying players don’t read it, we are all human beings at the end of the day and comments will affect people. Some more than others.
WORLD’S WORST LOSER
“For whatever reason it didn’t happen for us last year and it was a tough time. I’m the worst loser in the world and every defeat I took personally. I tend to dramatise everything. Separating results and what is happening on the pitch to my life off the pitch is hard for me.
“I find it very hard to switch off when I go home. For one night, I well be terrible then I move on. You have to.
“As I’m getting older I’m trying not to let things affect me so much, but it’s not easy.”
‘MESSED WITH MY HEAD’
“My personal situation didn’t help my mindset, for sure. Forest were a club that were obviously close to me and when the offer came in, it did mess with my head.
“I wasn’t looking to leave here in any way. In fact, when I signed my second contract, I could see myself finishing my career here. That was the plan.
“I have family to look after though and with the uncertainty over staying here, the fact that I have played more games than anyone here over five years but still there was that uncertainty... That played on my mind.
“If you are a council worker and someone offers you a good deal at a private company, in any walk of life, a lot of people are going to take that deal. Football is no different.
“Footballers are commodities. I’m not moaning about that. It’s a fact. It’s the game. We are not in control of our destiny. We can only do our best on the pitch and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.
“I think that, having played the most games for the club over five years, it would have stood me in good stead to maybe not have had to wait until two days before the trigger option on my contract expired before I found out the club wanted me to stay.
“But we got there in the end.”
BEING A BOSS
“Everything I do now, I’m trying to think with a manager’s head on.
“Watching the stick the manager took last season, the way he dealt with it and the way he conducted himself – I have learnt so much from him.
“I know criticism comes with the job. You get it as a player, but you get it 100 times worse as a manager.
“I felt for him last year, but that hasn’t put me off doing the job. If I don’t do it, I’m going to think ‘what if?’
“I want to see how I will react when I’m in that position because I know if I go on to be a manager, it’s going to come.”