Interview with Alan Judge: Colchester midfielder enjoys ‘last few years’ of career after lucky exit from Ipswich | Football news
Alan Judge said: “I just want to enjoy the last years of my career.
That is the simple wish of the 33-year-old Irishman, who has been playing for the past six years and is now playing in League Two for the first time in his career, with Colchester.
His recent journey to this point has been fraught with misfortunes and began with a horrific broken leg in April 2016, while playing for Brentford.
After the best two years of his recovery, he was back in action, but was unable to return to the team for which he previously played an integral part, which led to his departure from Ipswich in January 2019 .
Although the Tractor Boys were on their way to final relegation, 19 games helped bring Judge back to the normal football he was starved of in the final months of his time in west London and he was Called to the Republic of Ireland team as well.
But that summer, everything changed when talk of returning to the Championship with QPR emerged.
“I felt like myself again for the first six months I was in Ipswich, no doubt. I’m enjoying my football,” Judge said, telling Sports sky.
“Then QPR tried to buy me and obviously I was interested. It was football championship and my family still live in London. Everything was leaked to the Ipswich press, but they didn’t know the full details about it. what’s going on with my family life and the fans just think I want to leave right away, but it’s not, and it took a while for me to get over it.
“Initially, I had a release clause in my contract. When I first signed at Ipswich I was signed for 18 months, but I signed a new contract after six or seven weeks; My theory behind the release clause is so the owner gets his money back for betting on me after I got injured.Not many teams have bet with a returning player. after two years.
“But the owner doesn’t want to sell me – it’s that simple. I just live with it and don’t bother or refuse to train. I told him my family situation, but he really wanted me. Stay. Once he says I won’t go, that’s the end of the story.”
True to his word, there were no issues for the next two seasons, other than the fact that Judge was primarily positioned on the left flank, which frustrated him. “I’ve never been a winger. I’m always out because of my type of player – I want to run for the team and they know I’ll be back.”
Then one day in early April last year, a bomb was dropped. After a 0-3 defeat at AFC Wimbledon, Judge was informed that he had made his final appearance for the club; one more warm-up would result in a new one-year contract extension – a term the club no longer wants to do.
Given his family situation at the time, it was a significant blow.
“It was very difficult because my mother had passed away two weeks earlier,” he explained.
“I played for the club continuously for the whole year. I know my mother had cancer, but she was quite heavy in the three months leading up to that, so I would play on Saturday, fly back to Dublin on Sunday. , fly back on Monday for practice, play again on Tuesday night, fly back to Dublin on Wednesday morning, fly back and play again on Saturday.
For me, it feels as if that has just been removed – I feel like I deserve a little more. It’s not that I played badly, I actually played quite well but I understand the club is going in a different direction.
“I was told it was Paul Cook’s decision, then I was told it was the new owner’s decision. I don’t know who made the decision to be honest. It’s a strange place. I said in My statement when I left there made me no longer surprised by what goes on in football. But overall I enjoyed at Ipswich. It’s a hell of a place, great club and people. great there.
“I stayed at the club, trained alone and still went in and used the facilities, as far as I know, I have a contract with the club until the summer, so I am keeping health and decide what to do with my family I went about my business, said hi to the boys and the people there because the staff treated me wonderfully. “
When his contract expired at the end of June, the next opportunity came to Colchester, just 16 miles from the A12.
With Hayden Mullins appointed as regular head coach who guided the club to safety in 2020/21 and three other former Ipswich teammates – Cole Skuse, Luke Chambers and Freddie Sears – swapped exchange Portman Road for Jobserve Community Stadium, the project in Essex is very attractive.
“I’m interested in the vision they have and everything they’re trying to do,” added Judge.
“I’m living in Ipswich, my family has really settled down, I’m happy here and it means a lot to me. I know the quality and the type of players that will come and then I just have to listen. I listened to the people running the club and I absorbed their ideas.
“After what happened to me a year ago and what happened to me in football in general, I just want to enjoy my last few years playing football, hopefully about three or four more years. .”
However, it still doesn’t quite go to plan. The Mullins were dropped from their duties on January 19, after a five-game losing streak, and although the U team have not fallen into the relegation zone so far, they are still just over eight points with seven games. to play.
“My idea was that I wanted to try and do something at Colchester, but we’re having a tough year and our main focus right now is making sure we stay fit. It’s still a game. The club is in transition with a lot of things on and off the pitch and we can take care of other things that need to be handled as long as we hit our main goals and stay afloat.
“Against most teams, we don’t lose games with many goals, we lose by an odd goal and there are games where we have to see that we didn’t, for example. like Leyton Orient, Oldham, Carlisle They’re games where we should have taken points, but we took three points from those three games.
“We have a young squad so we’re a bit naive sometimes, but they get that with experience – they’ve played a lot of games, so hopefully next year they’ll get that and we I will all be better for it.
And how did Judge get to experience playing in League Two for the first time?
“I’m amazed at how much football is actually played – and I don’t mean to disrespect that,” he said, correcting himself.
“When I played for Brentford in League One, it was a bit of a mix and there weren’t a lot of teams trying to play the ball. There were a lot of good teams – Swindon, Forest Green, Hartlepool trying to play from the back and Joey Barton also having it. Bristol Rovers play good football.
“I’m playing a little bit deeper this year, which I like a lot and maybe I have to try to read the game a little bit better because sometimes the ball can’t get to the midfield as much; it can drift forward. faster and you can capture the moment.
“We’re going to learn from it this year, our main goal is to stay, come back next year and hopefully continue.”
Given what Alan Judge has been through the past few years, no one can give up that hope of his.