Wilnis reveals Canary threats

FABIAN Wilnis last night revealed for the first time how he received hate mail and threats from Norwich City fans after warning that they would struggle in the Premiership two years ago.

By Derek Davis

FABIAN Wilnis last night revealed for the first time how he received hate mail and threats from Norwich City fans after warning that they would struggle in the Premiership two years ago.

In a controversial interview with the EADT moments after Town's 3-1 defeat at Carrow Road in March 2004, Wilnis warned that Norwich were not good enough to survive in the top flight and that a lot of the City players at the time would have to be shipped out.

Although he was subsequently proved to be correct, his comments provoked widespread anger among City supporters, who sent him threatening and obscene letters.

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On the eve of his first return to Carrow Road since that game, Wilnis admitted the mail was upsetting but he refused to be intimidated.

Wilnis said last night: “After what I said in the paper I got a lot of stick from Norwich fans. I got a lot of hate mail and it got to a point where it was very threatening.

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“They were saying things like they were going to wait for me after a game and deal with me, threatening to break my legs - that sort of thing.

“I threw most of the letters in the bin and tried to laugh it off. I showed my wife some of them and thought about going to the police. But in the end I decided to stay quiet. I didn't tell the manager or the police or anyone else, except my wife.”

The 35-year-old Dutchman accepts he will get jeered, even more than the usual animosity reserved for Town players, but hopes City fans will put his comments into perspective almost two years on.

He said: “This is the first time I have spoken about the letters and threats and, after all this time, I'm over it so hopefully the Norwich fans are, too.

“I knew people were just trying to scare me, put me off my game but I refused to be intimidated. You can't live your life in fear so I didn't say a word and just tried to carry on and do my job.

“I have been in the game 15 years and have become thick-skinned but there has to be a limit and those people crossed the line and if it happened to a younger guy it could well have affected them.

“Looking back on that day what I said was never meant to be disrespectful. At the time it came across as very harsh but we had hit the bar, hit a post and had been by far the better team and deserved to get something out of the game.

“It was straight after the game and the emotions got carried away and these things happen.

“I will get a lot of stick on Sunday but I'm man enough to take it and I'm ready for the worst.”

Wilnis, who is hoping to be offered a new contract by Town before the season ends, has been working on mental strengthening as well as the physical side of the game and vows to be focused on winning at Norwich and not reacting to any intimidation.

He said: “I have worked hard at being physically strong and mentally tough and I will not be broken down.

“I will not allow anything to happen that will make me go crazy and get a red card. I will go there and play my normal game and be looking to bring home all three points.

“I know what that means to Ipswich fans and I know what it will mean to me.”

Since breaking back into the side at right-back, Wilnis has turned in consistently good performances and has won the Powergen/EADT Player of the Month award for January, pipping Scott Barron in the process.

It is Town's all-round performances that has convinced Wilnis the Blues can win at Carrow Road for only the second time in 12 years.

Wilnis said: “If we play as we have in the last month or so then we have a terrific chance. We are hard to beat and we have goals in us now - so bring it on.”

The prize for winning Player of the Month is sports equipment donated by Powergen to a school and Wilnis has chosen Broke Hall School, in Ipswich, to be the recipients this month.

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