'Ex-team-mates call me a snake!' - Gibbs on his Ipswich to Norwich switch
- Credit: Norwich City
Family and friends may still not be happy about it, but Liam Gibbs believes his move from Ipswich Town to Norwich City has paid off.
Born and raised in Bury St Edmunds, Gibbs joined the Blues’ academy at the age of eight and soon it became apparent he was a rising star at Playford Road.
He captained various age groups, was handed his senior debut in the EFL Trophy at the age of 16, penned an 18-month professional contract on his 17th birthday and made a League One start against Charlton before turning 18.
Town academy supremo Bryan Klug, who helped develop Premier League stars Kieron Dyer, Darren Bent and Titus Bramble, described the midfielder as 'one of the most talented people I have worked with’, adding ‘I think he has got the potential to be a top player’. High praise indeed.
It therefore came as a major disappointment when Gibbs rejected a new deal last summer and crossed the border to join arch rivals Norwich for an undisclosed six-figure compensation fee.
“My dad is a very big Ipswich fan!” revealed Gibbs, when reflecting on his first season with the Canaries during an interview with Pink’Un+.
“I’m one of three brothers and none of us support Ipswich, but dad is a strong Ipswich fan. He wants what’s best for me, obviously, but it must have hard for him to see that I was moving to his biggest rival. Put it this way, I don’t think we’ll get him in a Norwich shirt any time soon!
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“I’m still in contact with some of my former team-mates – we have a game of golf or whatever. They still call me a ‘snake’ every now and then! That’s okay, it’s just banter – I know that.
“We had a couple in the team who are Ipswich through and through and they must have found it more difficult to see me make the move.”
So how has life at Carrow Road been working out for the 19-year-old? Pretty good.
He’s played a key role for a free-scoring Under-23s side who currently sit second in the PL2 Division 2 table.
He impressed new manager Dean Smith sufficiently to be named among the substitutes for an FA Cup third round win at Charlton.
And he’s taking inspiration from the minutes homegrown duo Adam Idah and Jon Rowe have been getting for a Canaries side slipping back into Championship.
“Leaving Ipswich was definitely a tough decision because that’s all I’d known, that had been my life,” said Gibbs.
“But I thought I had to do something new and go outside my comfort zone. That’s what I have done and I feel it’s paid off.
“I came here because I saw a pathway for myself. I have seen young players go from the Under-23s into Norwich’s first team (the likes of Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Todd Cantwell) – they’re a club that has to do that really to succeed.
“It’s gone a lot smoother than I anticipated.
“I have been on the bench for the first team, I have been training with them now and again, the Under-23s are doing really well, so I’m definitely enjoying my time here.
“I think I have improved a lot as a player. At Ipswich I was more of an attacking player – a number 10 who played in behind the striker. I have come here and been more of a defensive midfielder. I’m picking up second balls, tracking runners and organising from behind the ball, so I think I’m more of an all-round player now. I’ve improved physically in the gym too.”
He added: “Being on the bench in the FA Cup was massive. I felt really proud of myself and my family were all proud too.
“It came as a bit of a shock, because I’d only been here six months, but obviously that’s what I want to do. I want to be in the first team and I’m pushing every day to get there.
“When you first train with the first team you think ‘wow, this is quick’. Then you gradually get used to it, get up to speed and when you go back to the Under-23s it feels a little slower.
“Seeing Adam Idah step up from the Under-23s and seeing Jon Rowe go and maintain his place on the bench recently makes me think ‘could I be the next one or the one after that?’
“If I could make my debut before the end of the season that would be absolutely massive for me. Initially I hadn’t planned for that, I was just thinking ‘can I go and train with them now and then?’ but I feel like with how the season has gone the opportunity might be there. That’s certainly what I’m pushing for.
“If I can get that first team appearance then it will definitely show I made the right move.”