Ipswich Town do not conjure up great memories for Eidur Gudjohnsen. Despite going on to become a Premier League winner with Chelsea and a Champion of Europe with Barcelona, the Icelandic striker is seemingly still haunted by previous disappointment at the hands of the Suffolk club.
The forward’s last game for Bolton Wanderers was against Ipswich, when he scored but then got injured in the first leg of their First Division (now The Championship) Playoff Semi-Final in May 2000. This saw him miss the highly controversial Tractor Boys victory in the second leg – a match in which Bolton had 12 players booked and two players sent off while Ipswich were awarded three penalties and received no bookings.
This week Gudjohnsen, now 36, told local newspaper The Bolton News: “I remember us being hard done by. I played the first leg and went there but had a slight knock on my knee or ligament injury.
“I watched in agony from the stands. It was a little bit one-sided from the referee, but we gave it away in the first leg. In the second leg the game went in a direction which didn’t have much to do with football.”
But fate has a funny way of throwing up opportunities you’d never expect, and it just so happens that Gudjohnsen’s first appearance back at Bolton 14 years later could well be against Ipswich at Macron Stadium tomorrow. Lead striker Craig Davies picked up a hamstring injury in the 0-0 draw with Reading last weekend, leaving an opportunity for the likes of Gudjohnsen, youngster Conor Wilkinson and the out-of-favour Joe Mason to fill the berth.
The re-signing of Gudjohnsen, which was confirmed by the club last Friday, has caught the imagination of Wanderers fans – who will be keen to see the Icelandic striker given the nod by manager Neil Lennon. Even though he only played for the club for two years in his previous spell, he was a firm fans’ favourite and football supporters all over the land will be keen to see if Gudjohnsen still has even a smattering of the magical talent everyone remembers from all those years ago.
It’s clear that Gudjohnsen is, or at least was, a truly class act and his considerable footballing experience – playing with the likes of Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Xavi – could be vital in not only helping Bolton’s on-field exploits, but also aiding the progress of the club’s youngsters, such as Wilkinson and fellow striker Max Clayton.
That horrendous Ipswich victory may well be 14 years ago, but football fans certainly don’t forget and just thinking back to it still makes the blood boil. It remains to be seen whether Gudjohnsen will be fit enough to play a part in the clash tomorrow, but a last minute goal from the Icelandic striker on his second debut would be sweet revenge for Wanderers.