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‘I can’t put into words what I feel about the club’ – Couñago issues heartfelt message to Town fans after hanging up boots

PUBLISHED: 09:06 14 June 2018 | UPDATED: 09:06 14 June 2018

Pabo Counago scored 54 goals in 214 appearances for Ipswich Town. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

Pabo Counago scored 54 goals in 214 appearances for Ipswich Town. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

Archant

Former Ipswich Town fans’ favourite Pablo Couñago has issued a heartfelt message to Blues fans after hanging up his boots and hopes that one day a ‘special relationship’ can be renewed.

Counago celebrates scoring against Bristol City at Portman Road in 2008. Photo: ArchantCounago celebrates scoring against Bristol City at Portman Road in 2008. Photo: Archant

The silky Spanish striker scored 54 goals in 214 appearances for Town during two spells between 2001 and 2011. He then went on to play for clubs in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Finland before spending the last few years playing in the lower leagues of his homeland – most recently Club Deportivo Choco in his hometown of Redondela, just north of Portugal, in the Spanish fourth-tier.

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“I’ve had a long playing career, I loved every minute, and I think now it is time to stop and think about new ideas,” said the soon to be 39-year-old.

“As a boy I dreamed of playing for the biggest clubs and for the national team. That didn’t quite happen, but I have to be happy for the career and the opportunities I’ve had.

“I had a good time at Celta Vigo and Malaga, but the highlight of my career was – of course – my time in Ipswich. I can’t put into words what I feel about the club, the fans and the area. I still get messages of support from the Ipswich fans now, seven years on from leaving, and that’s amazing. For a foreign player to be remembered like that is a strange but amazing thing.

“I know some people might think ‘wow, what has Pablo done to deserve that much love?’ I can understand that. They are probably right. But that connection we have, that respect, that love, it is difficult to describe. What they say about me is exactly how I feel about them. I just have to say ‘thank you’ because Ipswich gave me my best memories in football.”

Counago has played in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Finland since leaving Portman Road in 2011. Photo: ArchantCounago has played in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Finland since leaving Portman Road in 2011. Photo: Archant

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He continued: “After Ipswich my wife and I decided we should take the opportunity to experience other countries and cultures. We had some time in Asia and then went to Finland. It’s been a long journey, a good journey, and now we’ll see what’s next.

“I’m doing my UEFA coaching badges. Maybe it will be coaching or management one day. Or maybe I will be a sporting director or a scout, something like that. I don’t know where I am going to go or what am I going to do yet. All I know is that I have to stay in football.

“I just want to make sure I am fully prepared before making the next step. Sometimes I think players retire and then go too quickly into their next role. I may have experienced many situations as a player, but there is still so much for me to learn.”

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Asked if he would like to return to Portman Road one day, Couñago replied: “Of course! For me, it will always be first option before any other club because of that special relationship.

“My wife was so happy there – she talks about that time more than me! And my son Andre, who is 10, was born in Ipswich and is always asking me if we can go visit.

“I will always help Ipswich Town in any way possible if they wanted me to. I think I could help them now, with my knowledge of various leagues and countries, but of course it is up to them if they want to listen to me.”

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