Kevin Phillips signed for Sunderland in Portman Road car park

KEVIN Phillips has revealed how close he came to signing for the Blues – before joining Sunderland from the car park at Portman Road.

The prolific striker was all ready to sign on the dotted line in July 1997 and was even in then-Town chairman David Sheepshanks’ office.

But after Ipswich and Phillips’ club, Watford, could not agree a fee, he wasted no time in signing for Sunderland where he became a modern-day legend, scoring 134 goals in 239 games.

Phillips has maintained that kind of goalscoring form throughout his successful career and, after Paul Jewell showed some interest in the 38-year-old in the summer, he showed Town fans what they were missing after a clinical equaliser for Blackpool on Saturday.

Going back to the summer of 1997, Phillips recalled: “I agreed personal terms but the clubs couldn’t agree a fee.

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“I think they had a player at a tribunal at the time and they had to wait until that was out the way.

“I went back in my car outside here (Portman Road), rang Peter Reid (then Sunderland manager) and I signed for Sunderland the next day.

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“I wanted to sign for Ipswich. It is a fantastic club, the facilities are great and it is not too far from where I came from, but it wasn’t to be.”

And then last summer, Phillips revealed Jewell had enquired about him after he was released by Birmingham.

But he said: “I think he had his players in mind and I suppose you are taking a risk when you sign a 38-year-old.

“But I’m hoping Ian Holloway (the Seasiders’ boss) and Blackpool haven’t taken that much of a risk as I am sitting on eight goals and I have only started 13 or 14 games.”

Phillips’ strike on Saturday took his amazing tally against Ipswich to 11 goals in 16 games after Town failed to sign him 14 years ago.

But he was left feeling he should have had a 12th after being denied by Blues keeper Alex McCarthy when clean through.

Phillips said: “I did enjoy that, but being the most critical person on myself I am more disappointed than happy. I feel I should be walking away with two goals if not three, if Elliot (Grandin) had not nicked my goal that was going over the line and my chance at the end.

“It was a good save by the keeper, he came out and spread himself. I had half a mind to dink him, but then I saw him spread himself so I tried to drill the ball through his legs. But I struck it too well and it was a good save so I will give credit to the keeper.”

And of the match itself, Phillips, who came on as a 57th minute sub, added: “The manager said his piece at half-time and I think it showed second half as we could have gone on and won the game comfortably.

“On the negative side, we could have lost it in the last 30 seconds with (Lee) Martin’s chance. If he could have got a good connection, that would have been a goal and we would have walked away extremely disappointed. I suppose a point is a fair result in the end.”

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