Jon hopes to end two years of torment

AFTER suffering far more set-backs than most, new Blues striker Jon Walters is hoping life on and off the pitch is going to take a massive upturn following his move to Portman Road.

By Derek Davis

AFTER suffering far more set-backs than most, new Blues striker Jon Walters is hoping life on and off the pitch is going to take a massive upturn following his move to Portman Road.

Walters was considered an outstanding prospect as a teenager at Premiership clubs Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers but a disastrous loan spell at Crewe and an ill-judged switch to Hull City turned into a personal nightmare.

His daughter Scarlett was born with her stomach and intestines growing on the outside of her body and had to stay in hospital for the first five months.

Although Walters continued to train with City, manager Peter Taylor used him sparingly during the distressing period and eventually allowed him to move nearer his home and he joined Wrexham, before the cash-strapped Welsh club had to let him go to Chester.

Walters said: “It was a terrible time. We had Scarlett back for a month but she needed an operation and had to go back in.

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“She was really quite bad and we didn't know what was going to happen with her so I asked Hull to release me so I could move back home.

“The doctors had to operate to put her stomach and intestines inside and then there were complications. They had to leave some outside her body for another four months before they could put the rest back in.

“She had another operation and fortunately that proved successful.

“It was a bad time for us. Probably the worst time of my life but Peter Taylor and the chairman Adam Pearson were wonderful with me and it was appreciated but I needed to move back to the north-west.”

With Scarlett making excellent progress and Walters able to concentrate on his football more the striker caught the eye of scouts with Scunthorpe, where he had once been on loan, making a £100,000 offer for him.

Ipswich trumped them with a successful £150,000 bid and Walters has jumped at the chance of starting afresh.

He said: “Everything is fine now. Scarlett is perfect and Joanne and I are getting married in the summer.

“I needed time to get settled and use that as a stepping-stone, which has worked out fine for me.

“That was a nightmare time but now I have got the move I was looking for and I fully intend to take the opportunity. This is a great chance for me to get my career back on track.

“I can't wait to get involved and play games for Ipswich and show people what I can do.”

Even before the dark days at Hull, Walters suffered bad luck.

His Under-21 career with the Republic of Ireland was over almost before it got started after he scored twice in a 2-0 win over Switzerland in October 2003 but there followed a misunderstanding with then manager Don Givens.

Walters said: “My mum is from Dublin and she passed away when I was very young so it was always my ambition to play for Ireland for her.

“I played that one game and did so well which was all the more disappointing when I got left out.

“I wasn't allowed to play while I had an infection and then at the end of the season he left me out and it was all quite strange.

“The lads at Bolton went to Marbella at the end of the season but the Irish game was only a couple of days after we would have got back, so I knew if I went there with them it would not do me much good for Ireland.

“Instead my girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, and I went away to Lanzarote.

“I was running on the beach and doing weights in the gym and generally keeping my fitness up, not drinking at all.

“Given called me and asked why I was on holiday and not training. I told him I was but he said he didn't think I was committed and left me out of the squad.

“It was a strange thing to happen and even the other lads were surprised.

“I still want to pay for Ireland and hope by doing well here that will follow.”

A loan move to Crewe also ended in disappointment when he was not able to play for the whole month he was there due to a tooth infection.

Birkenhead-born Walters' career started as a youngster at Bolton under the watchful eye of Rob Kelly, now the Leicester City manager, but he switched to rivals Blackburn when Phil Brown, now the Hull boss, guided him through into the first team.

He found games hard to come by and made just seven first team appearances before jumping ship to the Tigers after various loan spells.

He said: “I was a bit naïve leaving Bolton as I had two years left on my contract but wasn't playing.

“Perhaps I should have stayed another year but after being involved with the squad either on the bench or just travelling for every game in my first year it changed.

“In the second year the manager (Sam Allardyce) brought in three new foreign strikers and it seemed no matter how well you played in the reserves and how bad they played, they were always in front so I got a bit frustrated and finally went to Hull.

“Perhaps looking back I should have stayed but there is no point in regretting that and you have to learn from mistakes.”

Walters is rated as a good footballer who is decent in the air, has good pace and good work rate and is looking to start his new life by making his debut at Stoke tonight.

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