Fab: I'm here to stay

FABIAN Wilnis revealed today that he plans to stay in England when his playing days are over.The Surinam-born defender, 35, is already preparing for life after football.

By Elvin King

FABIAN Wilnis revealed today that he plans to stay in England when his playing days are over.

The Surinam-born defender, 35, is already preparing for life after football.

But he assured Ipswich Town fans that his main priority is still football and that he wants to earn an extension to his current Portman Road contract that runs out in June next year.

“But if that does not work out I have a number of ventures that I am hoping to become involved in,” said Wilnis, who moved to Suffolk from Holland seven years ago when previous Town manager George Burley purchased him from De Graafschap.

He has gone on to make over 250 appearances and has scored five goals, including memorable ones against Manchester United and Coventry City in the Premiership and at Norwich City in the Championship.

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“I have still got more than half my working life ahead of me and want to be ready to make a success of that,” explained Wilnis.

“I can see myself staying in England, as I have made so many friends in Ipswich and my wife Juliette and children are also very happy here.

“The children speak better English than they do Dutch, and the house that we are building in Holland could well become our summer retreat. It is almost complete.”

Wilnis has a number of strings to his bow, and he is not a footballer who plans to hang up his boots and then wonder what to do.

He has done the groundwork to become a personal trainer, masseur and/or nutrition adviser. And he is also involving himself in marketing and commerce as well as property.

And Wilnis Pilates can already be found on the internet, with Juliette a recognised exponent of the specialist fitness programme.

Time on our hands

“We have time on our hands during away trips and I am currently studying personal training during our time on the coach and at our hotels,” said Wilnis.

“Instead of playing cards, like some of the lads, I am reading all I can to widen my knowledge.

“I realise how fortunate I have been to play football for a living, but once I hang up my boots I shall be searching for a different kind of buzz.”

Wilnis' determination to gain as much knowledge as he can about the commercial world is evident in his quest to sit in on business meetings with Ipswich's main sponsors Powergen.

“I think they thought it was interesting for a player to want to be aware of how they work,” added Wilnis. “They have been very good and it is a big learning curve for me.”

Looking at his immediate future, Wilnis said: “This is my seventh season at Ipswich and at the moment the most unspectacular one.

“But there is plenty of time and we will gain in the second half of the campaign from what was learned in the first half.”

Wilnis had his father and two sisters over from Holland for Christmas and they were treated to a Surinam-based seasonal feast.

While Wilnis has got used to playing over the festive holiday period, it is a new venture this year for players in the Dutch League.

“They are not very happy, but on previous Boxing Day's in Holland everybody has watched English football on TV. So I am sure it was a success.

“And for the first time this season there will be a play-off situation in the Dutch top division at the end of the season.”