GIBSON: City new boy reflects on a frustrating two years at Burnley and advice from the England boss
- Credit: Tony Thrussell
By his own admission, the last two seasons have been incredibly difficult for Norwich City new boy Ben Gibson. Connor Southwell caught up with the defender hoping to press the reset button with the Canaries.
Ben Gibson is a man in a hurry at Norwich City.
After two years of frustration and limited appearances for Premier League side Burnley - the 27-year-old is keen to make up for lost time.
Gibson was purchased by the Clarets for a joint-club record fee of £15million from Middlesbrough but soon found himself out of favour and ostracised from Turf Moor.
The England Under-21 defender tweeted his gratitude to his boyhood club for allowing him to train with them and retain his fitness at Rockcliffe Park - but he admits that these last two-years have proved very testing.
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“I won’t lie or hide from it, I’m a very honest person. It’s been extremely tough.
“I signed for the club for a lot of money but I didn’t get many opportunities to showcase what I believe what I can do.
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“That’s sometimes the way football goes - that’s in the past for me and what I can assure you is that the club is getting a very driven, motivated man to come and help this football club.
“I can’t wait to buy into everything this football club is about, get stuck in and work hard.”
Gibson made only six appearances for Burnley despite the fee the club departed with to bring him to the club.
Some footballers would have seen their relationship with the game tested, but Gibson is a football fanatic, with his love for the game infectious.
“Football is everything to me. It’s my career, my life. Some players can sit there and earn good money and keep the smile on their face - that isn’t me.
“It might be a fault, but I take football home with me. If we get beat, I’m probably not a great person to be around. It’s 24/7 on my mind, that’s me and the way I am. Win or lose.
“That’s what I’m bringing to your football club, someone who cares deeply and wears that heart on their sleeve.”
The defender was keen to praise his family for their support and efforts in reminding of the bigger picture during the dark moments of self-doubt.
“My family have done an amazing job. I have a great set of people around me. They’ve been the unsung heroes really, they’ve done their best to keep me smiling and focused.
“They’ve helped me keep my eyes on the long-term goal which I needed to have because it’s a spell in my career that I never wanted to have but it’s happened now.
“I’d never been on the bench before. I’ve never experienced not playing and it’s been a massive learning curve. I feel like I’ve dealt with it well.
“I controlled what I could control. I still trained every day, sometimes twice or three times a day.
“I’ve learnt a lot about myself - I know how mentally strong I am. I know that the people around me care deeply and how good they are, not just when things are good but also when things get tough. Now I’m in a fantastic place to kick on this season.”
Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber are hoping the experienced defender will add some leadership and quality into a backline that leaked goals regularly last season.
In Gibson, they have recruited somebody with an immense amount of Championship experience and a promotion from the division on his CV.
City’s boss claimed recently that every club in the Canaries division would have been keen on taking Gibson.
The defender himself isn’t one to rest on his laurels and is determined to prove the doubters wrong - something he feels that he’s been forced to do since his youth days at Boro’s academy.
“I’ve never been one to sit comfortable, even when I was playing every week and doing well in the Premier League I always thought you’ve got to prove somebody wrong.
“From being a young boy coming through Middlesbrough’s academy, my uncle owned the club and I always thought people thought that I was only there because of him.
“I felt I had to work twice as hard and be twice as good. So it’s a challenge I’ve had my entire life and that doesn’t change now.”
Gibson was selected in an England squad in 2017 but failed to make an appearance on the international stage.
England boss Gareth Southgate managed Gibson at U21 level and has connections with Boro, and Gibson recalls advice he gave to him about football.
“Gareth Southgate used to say to me that you can never get comfortable in football because when you think you’ve cracked it, you get a smack in the face really quickly. That is the nature of the beast.
“It’s a chapter of my life that I’ve learned a lot from. I’ll take the positives and I’m really eager to get going now.”