Leon Best out to prove the doubters wrong by channelling positive energy

Leon Best

Leon Best - Credit: Archant

Striker Leon Best is confident he can prove the doubters wrong and finally fulfil his potential at Ipswich Town.

The 29-year-old was part of a golden generation of youth at Southampton and went on to have big moves to Coventry, Newcastle and Blackburn. Injuries at key moments mean he has never quite lived up to the hype though and he arrives at Portman Road as a free agent, following his summer release by Rotherham, having played for 11 different clubs.

Best, who could make his Blues debut in tonight’s Championship match at Reading (8pm ko, available on freeview channel Sky Sports Mix), said: “It’s a matter of proving myself wrong, as well as others. Even when I was scoring goals in the Premier League I had doubters. You’ll always have doubters, it’s yourself that you have to convince.

“I had no club and you start to think to yourself ‘why am I in this position?’ I’ve got four kids and recently my oldest said ‘daddy, what’s your job?’

“As soon as I came here I felt better though, then the manager said he wanted to sign me and I just keep going up and up in energy and confidence. It’s the lift I needed.

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“I’m a massive believer that thoughts become things. Since I’ve come here I can just see myself scoring loads. I can see myself playing well. I’m in a great place.”

Best, who trained with West Brom in pre-season to keep fit, says ‘100% honest’ McCarthy is the perfect manager to get the best out of him, while McCarthy has said he is relishing the prospect of working with a hungry player with a point to prove.

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Best has been handed the number nine shirt, which became free following Daryl Murphy’s departure to Newcastle, with the hope being he can be rejuvenated just like the latter was at a similar age.

“Number nine is already in my head as something massive, so to be given that is a massive confidence booster for me,” said Best.

“Have I got big shoes to fill? When Andy Carroll went to Liverpool (from Newcastle) that’s what I heard then too and I went on and scored a few. It’s the best thing when you’ve got something to live up to. It’s good when there are some expectations and people get behind you and give their support. It’s all good energy. I’m a massive believer in that and the energy here is unbelievable. It’s a massive thing. I’m looking forward to it.”

He added: “When I go to bed before the game I’ll look at a few videos and visualise a few things… then make it happen.”

Best’s arrival has failed to whet the appetite of some Blues fans with many bemoaning the fact the club weren’t able to sign what they would consider a like-for-like replacement for Murphy following his move to Newcastle.

Best once played in the Premier League for Newcastle himself though and McCarthy sees similarities in his current situation and that of Murphy when he was signed permanently from Celtic in 2013.

“Leon has got the bug, the bit between his teeth, because he’d been written off,” said the Blues boss. “He might not be exactly the same player as Murph, but I like players that have something to prove and he has.

“I think Murph did as well four years ago when I signed him. I can’t remember anybody dancing in the streets when we did that. There was complete apathy towards that signing I seem to remember.

“Four years on he’s been our leading scorer, got back in the Ireland squad and achieved a lot. Let’s hope we can get something like that out of Leon Best.

“He’s a very good player. He’s had his trouble with injuries, but he seems to be over them. He played 16 games on the bounce for Rotherham towards the end of last season and scored against us.

“It’s difficult when you have those niggly injuries. You never get to your full potential. Let’s hope we can get him there.”

Best said: “My career has been up and down. I’ve played at the highest level, which is a good thing, I’ve had spells of international football (with the Republic of Ireland) also.

“Sometimes in football luck helps you and I’ve been unlucky at certain times with injuries at key times.

“I’m older now, I’ve got a wiser head on my shoulders and I look after myself much better. A lot of people say you are at your prime around my age now.”

He added: “Sometimes it takes you a while to know what you are actually good at in football. As a player you always watch people on TV and want to try different things.

“It’s better to go into a game knowing what you are good at. I’m good at holding the ball up. I’d like to say scoring goals as well. That’s what I know I’ll be judged on.”

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