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Town icon Magilton on being sacked by Evans over the phone, relationship with Keane and ‘horrendous’ headbutt allegations

PUBLISHED: 15:07 24 February 2020

Former Ipswich Town boss Jim Magilton has discussed his departure from the club back in 2009. Picture: ARCHANT

Former Ipswich Town boss Jim Magilton has discussed his departure from the club back in 2009. Picture: ARCHANT

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Former Ipswich Town player and manager Jim Magilton has opened up on a wide range of topics, including his departure from Portman Road, as part of an interview published in Northern Ireland over the weekend.

After impressing through his loan spell, Magilton joined Ipswich on permanent deal in March 1999After impressing through his loan spell, Magilton joined Ipswich on permanent deal in March 1999

Ipswich Town icon Jim Magilton has given a revealing interview to Neil Loughran of the Irish Times, where the former midfielder, captain and manager opens up on a wide range of issues from his playing career, time in management and his personal life.

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Magilton on... growing into the Ipswich Town job

Magilton made the transition from player to manager in the summer of 2006, succeeding popular boss Joe Royle at Portman Road. His first two seasons saw him finish 14th and eighth.

Magilton was the architect of one of the greatest games seen at Portman Road, as he scored a hat-trick in the dramatic play-off semi-final victory over Bolton Wanderers in 2000. Picture: ARCHANTMagilton was the architect of one of the greatest games seen at Portman Road, as he scored a hat-trick in the dramatic play-off semi-final victory over Bolton Wanderers in 2000. Picture: ARCHANT

"As a player, it's just about you," he said. "Once you become a manager, it's about everybody. That was a steep learning curve.

"My first year and a half I was still probably seeing through the eyes of a player, instead of having that experience of thinking why somebody might be doing something.

"Three years into the job, I was so much better. I was in a position where I was loving going into work in the morning, I knew exactly what was happening in the medical room, from a coaching point of view. I knew where I was with the chairman, I knew I could manage up and rely on these guys to deliver."

Magilton on... working under Marcus Evans

Magilton went on to captain the Blues. Picture: ARCHANTMagilton went on to captain the Blues. Picture: ARCHANT

"There was a takeover, a new owner, a different relationship. Board meetings had always run smoothly - now I was talking to Marcus on a screen," he said. "The dynamic changed.

"After three years, I knew that cycle of players wasn't going to take us to the next level; I knew we needed the next level of player. And he just didn't go with me."

Magilton on... being sacked by Evans over the phone

Magilton's final game in charge of the Blues was a 3-2 victory over Norwich in April 2009 - Ipswich were sitting eighth in the Championship table and haven't beaten their old rivals since.

Just a few days later, though, he was gone and Roy Keane was appointed in his place.

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"I had come home on the Tuesday night because mum wasn't well. When I got speaking to Marcus the next day, the phone call lasted three minutes; Roy Keane was coming in.

"When you get a phone call like that, you know what's happening."

Magilton was appointed Ipswich Town manager in the summer of 2006. Picture: ARCHANTMagilton was appointed Ipswich Town manager in the summer of 2006. Picture: ARCHANT

Magilton took Evans' call in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where his mother Maureen was in intensive care. Once the conversation had finished he returned to her bedside where his father Jimmy was sitting. The news of his sacking soon flashed up in yellow on Sky Sports News on one of the ward's televisions.

"There was just silence for a couple of seconds, but I could see the guy in the bed beside mum looking over at me, then up at the TV," Magilton said. "Eventually he turns round and says 'you've had some day, haven't you?'

"I burst out laughing - what else could you do?"

Magilton on... his relationship with Roy Keane

Magilton finished 14th in his first Ipswich Town season and eighth in his second. Picture: ARCHANTMagilton finished 14th in his first Ipswich Town season and eighth in his second. Picture: ARCHANT

"He gave me a little slot in his second book," Magilton said of the man who succeeded him at Portman Road.

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Keane wrote: Ipswich already had a manager at this time, Jim Magilton. I was being touted for a job that was already occupied. But I didn't feel too bad about that. It's not good, but it's standard practice. I thought it was all right to chat about the job, I hadn't agreed to take it.

I didn't feel too sorry for Jim Magilton. I felt he'd let me down with a player when I was managing Sunderland. He was supposed to take Tommy Miller off me. We'd agreed a deal. The transfer deadline came, but Ipswich pulled out of the deal.

Magilton, pictured on the touchline in 2009. Picture: ARCHANTMagilton, pictured on the touchline in 2009. Picture: ARCHANT

I rang Jim Magilton. I said 'what's happening? I've turned down other deals for Tommy because you said he was going to you'. He was proper aggressive; he didn't give a f**k. It was all 'f**k you', and me back to him, 'f**k you, you're a f**kin' joke'. But it started at his end.

"He said to me and I reacted, then there was a war of words," Magilton said of the relationship between the two.

"When I read that, I laughed it off. He was a rookie manager, I was a rookie manager - just one of those things. Storm in a teacup."

Magilton on... taking the QPR job and 'horrendous' headbutt accusations

Magilton was sacked as Ipswich boss in April 2009, with Roy Keane appointed in his place just days later. Picture: ARCHANTMagilton was sacked as Ipswich boss in April 2009, with Roy Keane appointed in his place just days later. Picture: ARCHANT

The Northern Irishman took charge at Loftus Road just a couple of months following his Portman Road departure but had left the club by the following December.

"Never touched, never touched…" he says of an incident where midfielder Akos Buzsaky accused Magilton of headbutting him during a heated conversation.

"It was a horrendous situation, horrendous allegations, completely unfounded. It was a witch-hunt.

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Jim Magilton is currently Northern Ireland's Elite Performance director and has been linked with the managerial position. Picture: PAJim Magilton is currently Northern Ireland's Elite Performance director and has been linked with the managerial position. Picture: PA

"The lad in question, two weeks before that he came to me, very emotional about his father. I told him to go home - family's everything. His father was over the moon we had allowed him to go home. People don't see that side of it.

"I had to leave, but it was a learning curve, an unbelievable experience."

Magilton on... his next managerial job

Magilton, now 50, is in the frame to take over Northern Ireland when Michael O'Neill, who combines the role with his club job at Stoke, departs following the nation's Euro 2020 campaign.

"I know I have the knowledge and that bank of experience, and I know every lad coming through," the former midfielder, who is currently the country's elite performance director, said.

"I've played at every level, I've coached and managed and assisted at every level. The Uefa tournaments elevate your experience because you're watching these young players develop and the way the game is going.

"The last five years as elite performance director have been a tremendous upward curve for me, learning all the time, developing strategies and trying to implement some of the things I've done first hand."

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Magilton covers a wide-range of subjects during his Irish News interview, starting with his Gaelic Football roots and beginning his career at Liverpool in part one.

In part two he covers his time at Town and his father Jimmy, three years on from his death.

The former Town midfielder and manager also discussed his hopes of being Northern Ireland's next manager.

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