'I turned down Norwich two or three times,' says Ipswich Town icon Kuqi

EADT 1 11 04

Ipswich Town icon Shefki Kuqi was dubbed 'The Flying Finn' for his swallow dive celebrations. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant

Shefki Kuqi has further cemented his role as an Ipswich Town cult hero by revealing that he turned down the chance to sign for Norwich City multiple times.

The hard-working striker bagged 32 goals in 88 games for Joe Royle’s Blues between 2003 and 2005, his swallow dive celebrations earning him the moniker ‘Flying Finn’. Kuqi, who went on to play for Blackburn, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Swansea, Derby, Newcastle, Oldham and Hibernian before hanging up his boots in 2013, has been reflecting on his playing career in an interview with Planet Football.

Looking back on his Portman Road days, the 44-year-old said: “I got that connection straight away with the fans and from there I never looked back. After the first week or two I remember the fans singing ‘sign him up, sign him up’ (he was initially on loan from Sheffield Wednesday). Something just connected.

“Even after I moved away from Ipswich, two or three times I turned down Norwich just because of the relationship I had with the Ipswich fans. That’s the type of character I am.”

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Kuqi struck up a super strike partnership with a young Darren Bent during his time at Ipswich, the pair firing the Blues to successive Championship play-off finishes.

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“You knew he was going to have a good career,” said Kuqi. “He was only a young boy when I was there, but I always remember he was so skinny and quick. Lightning quick.

“I built a great partnership with him because he was fast and a good finisher. We suited each other really well. I was the target man and I could flick him in.”

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Kuqi has managed FC Honka, PK-35 Vantaa and Inter Turku in Finland over recent years and is now looking for an opportunity in England. He applied for the Ipswich job following Mick McCarthy’s departure in 2018, was in the running for the Carlisle job last season and was recently interviewed for the role of Kosovo Under-21s manager.

“England feels like home now,” he said. “I spent most of my career in England. I played Premier League, I played Championship, I had one season in League One. I’ve had all those different tastes and I know what those levels demand.

“I feel ready and I’m prepared to start at any kind of level as long as there is a project and a target.”

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