The retired Nigerian winger arrived in England in the early 2000s with an established international and club pedigree but left following an underwhelming spell
George Finidi has lamented his inability to meet the expectations of Ipswich fans to help the club remain in the Premier League at the turn of the millennium, stating it as his big regret in England.
Big-money signing Finidi joined Ipswich in 2001 for £3.1 million with the Tractor Boys looking to make a significant impact in the English top-flight and Europe.
The Nigerian winger had met Ipswich on a high after the club finished in the fifth position on 66 points, just 14 off eventual champions Manchester United, a year after gaining promotion from the Championship.
In the history of the Premiership, no promoted team had ever been so successful.
But despite the arrival of Finidi, once regarded as one of the finest wingers in the world, and the likes of Marcus Bent and Matteo Sereni, the George Burley-tutored side spent most of the 2001-02 season battling relegation.
Injuries and absence due to the Super Eagles commitments at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations reduced Finidi’s appearances to 25 league matches out of 38, at the end of which Ipswich were relegated.
And the Ajax hero has had time to reflect on why it didn’t work out with the Tractor Boys.
“At Ipswich, I didn’t play the way I ought to play. I was not fit enough due to injuries and the team dropped,” Finidi told TribalFootball.
“It was very unfortunate due to injuries I suffered and I felt I did not have the continuity of playing at my best.
“The team treated me well, the fans showed me great love, but my only regret is that I could not meet the expectations of the fans to remain in the premiership. The team was relegated.”
During a brilliant playing career that saw him win the UEFA Champions League with Ajax, Finidi spent three years in the Netherlands and more than five years in Spain but was only in England for two years.
The 1994 Afcon winner confessed that he would have loved to stay longer in England.
“I would have loved to stay longer in England, but that didn’t work out. Your team gets relegated, everything changes at the club.
“I would have loved to stay between 4 – 6 seasons, but that didn’t happen. I can’t fix that. My playing time is over. I’m a coach now.”
Finidi left Ipswich Town in 2003 after amassing 35 appearances and seven goals to his name.