Al-Hamadi: Premier League? Why Not? Let's Go For It! - Ipswich Town News

Town’s oft-repeated ‘one-game-at-a-time’ mantra isn’t going to change anytime soon but new signing Ali Al-Hamadi has admitted his sights are firmly set on ending the season on the highest possible note by winning promotion to the Premier League.

Whether it comes via the preferred option of an automatic place, or by the more uncertain play-off route, Al-Hamadi has departed League Two outfit Wimbledon hoping his remarkable journey will take him into the top flight come May.

"It would be nice,” he smiled. "I think people are sometimes scared to talk about it or say it, but I just think, you know, ‘Why not? Let’s go for it’. It’s not like we’re going to just float around and see what happens because we really do believe in it and what we want to do. But in football so many unexpected things happen and things can change very quickly.

"I think you hear a lot of the time players and managers say the same things abut one game at a time, but within the dressing room that is genuinely what we say and what is spoken about.

"We don’t get too ahead of ourselves. As long as we’re focused and we’re dialled in every day, to every training session and every game, every aspect of what we’re doing, we give ourselves the best chance.

"We know things can happen in football, good and bad, so we’ll give it a go and see where we’re at and what happens come the end of the season.”

Al-Hamadi’s football journey started in 2015 when he was chosen to represent Liverpool Schoolboys, which brought him to the attention of Merseyside’s big two clubs, Liverpool and Everton.

But it was on the other side of the Mersey Tunnel, at Tranmere Rovers, that he took his first real steps towards a career in the game, joining their U14 set-up and spending three years at Prenton Park.

He was offered a professional contract in the summer of 2018 but instead opted for a two-year scholarship at Swansea, where he signed his first pro deal in July 2020.

He recalled making the decision to join the Swans and explained: "From the outside it can look like ‘Oh he’s gone there and not played’ but it was a risk and I got offered a deal at Swansea that summer, when I was 18 or 19, and chose to leave because I thought that first-team opportunities were limited for me at the time.

"I had a few months where I bounced around different clubs and Swansea were asking for a compensation fee. With youth players sometimes clubs have that right to say ‘We want you to pay whatever it is’.

"That was looming over my head so whatever club I went to said ‘You’re doing well and training well but we can’t really sign you because we haven’t got the money at the moment for a youth player’.

"It was a challenging time. I went to Derby when Wayne Rooney was there and was close to getting signed then they went into administration.

"I was at Forest for a bit in their academy system and did well there for about a month, just waiting for something to get sorted between the two clubs but I think that was the year they got promoted to the Premier League so I ended up waiting and they said ‘We need to spend funds on the first team’ because they were in the relegation zone at the start of the season.

"It was one of those where I thought ‘When am I going to catch a break?’ I stuck at it, though, and kept believing in myself.

"Sometimes great risk comes with great reward and I landed at Wycombe, which probably wasn’t my preferred option when I was leaving Swansea. But it was the only option I had at that point on the table.

"I went in there as a young player under Gareth Ainsworth and learned a lot under him, probably more the physical side of the game. I was playing with Sam Vokes, another really good Welsh striker who has played at the top level.

"It got to a point where I was like ‘I’m ready to play but there are players ahead of me who are older and more experienced’ so I took another risk and went to play men’s football at Wimbledon.

"I think at every point I’ve been at I’ve not been afraid to take a risk. I’ve always backed myself, my ability and my mindset. It’s nice for me because I can kind of be a role model now to younger players who do have that journey because a lot of players do that and sometimes it doesn’t work out.

"In academy systems nowadays, I don’t think they prepare you for men’s football so I speak to a lot of the younger guys now and say ‘You need to go and fail, you need to go and get rejected and have people tell you you’re not good enough’.  It gives you that drive and hunger.

"Some people might crumble, but you find out what you’re really made of at that point. That’s always been the way I have worked. I hope people can look at my story and take motivation from it.”

Meanwhile, Al-Hamadi revealed his family had recently travelled down from their home in Liverpool to see Town in action for the first time in the 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion. He said: "They came down for that game and loved it, the game, the atmosphere, everything.”

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