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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Inter stars send Venus flying high

PUBLISHED: 12:55 21 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

MARK Venus spent 12 seasons 'stuck in the First Division'. Disappointed at not lining up against the injured Ronaldo at Portman Road tomorrow he is determined to enjoy playing against Italian glamour side Inter Milan.

MARK Venus spent 12 seasons 'stuck in the First Division'. Disappointed at not lining up against the injured Ronaldo at Portman Road tomorrow he is determined to enjoy playing against Italian glamour side Inter Milan.

"When I look back on my career, this game will be top of the list," said the 34-year-old defender, who has been one of Ipswich Town's star players this season.

"You think games like this are out of your range when you are stuck in the First Division for 12 years. Losing out in four play-offs – two with Wolves and two with Ipswich – only heightened the feeling that I would never reach the top.

"Playing in the Premiership last season was the fulfilment of a dream and playing in Europe this year was another milestone recorded.

"With the greatest respect to Torpedo Moscow and Helsingborgs IF it would not have meant the same to have gone out of the UEFA Cup without playing a match like tomorrow's.

"We are talking about multi-millionaire superstars and world class players. It is a shame that strikers Ronaldo and Vieri will not be included in the first leg.

"But I hope they will figure in the return, particularly Ronaldo. After Pele came Maradona. And after Maradona came Ronaldo.

"I want him to play some part so that I can feel him. So that I can say I have played against the very best, a legend.

"I intend to get an Inter Milan shirt either for my nine-year-old son Connor or for my own collection – and Ronaldo's would do nicely in the second leg."

Despite being in the veteran stage of his career, Venus is happy with the way he is playing. "I feel fit and strong and feel I am doing OK, although when you are a hungry 30-plus you treat every game as though it might be your last.

"I used to dream of playing games like this when I was in the lower league and to be honest I don't know how I am going to cope. It was the same when we gained promotion to the Premiership.

"But it worked out well then and I am sure it will work out well against the likes of Inter Milan."

Venus, like everybody connected with Town, appreciates it will be hard but he feels Ipswich have a chance of going through to the last 16.

He added: "We have worked hard for days like this over the past few years. For a change this season we will start underdogs, which will take the pressure off. Nobody expects us to go through so we have little to lose.

"Despite our lowly league position we are playing quite well and our level of performance has been good. Our trouble has been giving away goals and then having too much ground to make up."

Venus knows that Ipswich Town will be judged this season on how they fare in the Premiership and whether they manage to turn things around after winning just eight points from their first 13 games.

"What we want is to have Portman Road full and bouncing with 30,000 supporters next season. We know we can do it, but there is no doubt we have a lot of ground to make up after an awful start.

"We have given ourselves a considerable challenge."

But Venus, who this season has coupled sound defensive work with telling forward passes and deadly free-kicks and corners, is up for any challenge.

He can't wait to get out there mixing it with the world's best.

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