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Broadhead: A Tough Decision But I Wanted to Achieve Something This Season
Friday, 3rd Mar 2023 17:21

Nathan Broadhead has relived the moment he scored with a stunning free-kick, one of the best ever witnessed at Portman Road and one that earned him the club’s Goal of the Month award for February.

Few, if any, supporters will forget how he stepped up to reduce the 2-0 deficit against Sheffield Wednesday and launch a recovery that eventually saw Town roar back to earn what could eventually prove to be a precious point in the battle for promotion.

After that game Leif Davis, who scored the equaliser from a second free-kick soon after the restart, the ball deflecting off the head of George Byers in the wall, remarked on how surprised he and his colleagues were that Broadhead was quick to grab the ball, having never before seen him take one, even in training.

Even manager Kieran McKenna admitted he was equally shocked, but when asked what prompted him to take it, Broadhead said: “I won it and I just wanted to take it. I said to someone who picked up the ball — I can’t remember who it was — that I really fancied it.

“When I made the connection with my foot, I wasn’t thinking anything to be honest but when it flew into the net it was a wonderful feeling. If we get another free-kick on the left side, maybe I’ll take it. I think I’d want to, but Leif being left-footed, he wants the ones on the right, so we’ll have to discuss that.”

Capped by Wales at U17, U19, U20 and U21 levels, Broadhead started out with hometown club Bangor City before moving on to Wrexham and then boyhood favourites Everton, although if it hadn’t been for the persistence of his parents he might have taken a very different career path.

He revealed: “I was only 10 at the time and I didn’t really want to go because I was settled at Wrexham, but my mum and dad forced me to do it. They were right, of course, and I’m very grateful to them. It’s thanks to them that it helped me as a person and not just as a footballer.

Broadhead made his debut for the Toffees in the Europa League against Cypriot side Apollon Limassol and his first taste of EFL action came when he joined Burton Albion on loan for the 2019/20 season and, coincidentally, made his debut for them in a 1-0 defeat to Ipswich on the opening day.

He remembered: “I came off the bench midway through the second half that day. It was tough, my first season playing proper senior football. It also coincided with the pandemic and all that involved, but despite that it was a good learning curve for me and I enjoyed the time I spent there. It’s a good club and it went well.”

Broadhead, also a substitute at Portman Road later that season when the Brewers were beaten 4-1, was also reminded that he scored twice for Everton in a Merseyside derby at Liverpool — not at first team level — as a youngster.

He added: “It was a big deal at the time — I can’t remember if it was the U21s or the U23s — but I’d love to go back there and do it again with the ground packed and in a first team game. Hopefully, I can do that and it would be even better if it was with Ipswich.”

Former Town loanee David Unsworth, a temporary signing in Joe Royle’s time as manager, was one of the youth coaches who played a part in Broadhead’s progress with the Toffees, alongside another former Goodison Park favourite, Kevin Sheedy.

Broadhead said: “I learned a lot from a lot of coaches, including David and Kevin, and it was a great experience there. I also learned from the different managers Everton have had over the years when I spent time with the first team and a lot of players too.

“I saw Joe Royle around the place a lot as well. I think because he was close to David we saw a fair bit of him, but I never really had a conversation with him.”

Town paid Everton £1.5 million for Broadhead in the January transfer window and he was asked if it had been difficult, since he was with a Premier League club and had also had experience of the Championship this season with Wigan Athletic, to drop down to the third tier with Town.

He replied: “It was a tough decision, don’t get me wrong, and I still had another year on my contract at Everton. But I just fancied a change and midway through the season at Wigan I felt I needed to get going again. I wanted to achieve something this season — win a trophy if possible — and I wasn’t going to do that at Wigan. But I definitely feel I can do it at Ipswich.

“I think I had got to a stage in my career where I wanted to go somewhere and settle down, rather than go out on loan again and again. I could have stayed at Everton and seen out my contract but I felt like taking a risk in going down to League One.

“The attraction here was that Ipswich are fighting for something and that should be the main objective in life, to fight for something. Also, it’s not just promotion this season, it’s a genuine, longer-term project and I felt as if I would like to be a part of it.

“I could say it was frustrating at Everton because I felt like I could have had more chances, but they were changing managers and as a young player you have to bide your time. That’s football for you.”

Broadhead had to delay his Town debut with an injury problem but he added: “I feel good. With my loan spells I was working with different managers and different facilities, so you’re always vulnerable to an injury or whatever.

“They have built me up slowly and surely here and I feel great. It was good to start two games back-to-back, definitely a big step in the right direction, and also to score my first goals for the club.”

He might even have gone on to play in the World Cup finals in Qatar late last year after Welsh boss Rob Page named him in the squad for the vital play-off final against Ukraine, as well as the Nations League clashes with Poland, Holland and Belgium, in June last year and he was forced to withdraw through injury.

“That was frustrating because it happened just a few months before the World Cup,” he said. “But the longer you are in football you realise there are a lot highs and lows. I went from helping Sunderland to win promotion from League One to the Championship and then a few days later I couldn’t join up with the Welsh squad because of the injury.

“It was Wes [Burns] who got my place and when I signed here he thanked me straight away for that. It would be great if I won caps with Wales but my focus right now is on Ipswich and our promotion challenge. If that in turn leads to me playing for Wales, great, so be it, but I’ve had no contact with Wales since I came here.”

Photo: Matchday Images

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Linkboy13 added 18:34 - Mar 3
Definitely a class signing but not at his best at MK Dons where he looked a bit lazy at times. I wonder if McKenna considers him an automatic choice or whether he will be rotated. Morsys on the verge of a suspension if he gets another yellow card and being the best player at the club we cannot afford to be without him.

Bazza8564 added 20:13 - Mar 3
Looks great at home and a bit lost away so far from what ive seen, not unusual for a new guy I guess. We need to stick with him, Harness can rotate off him and thats great depth in our position.

churchmans added 20:57 - Mar 3
He looks an exciting prospect and time will tell if he is the real deal with a run of games!
Looks real good in the games I have seen him play so far

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