Matthew Clarke programme article

Posted : 8th July 2017

Linfield defender Matthew Clarke spoke to ‘Look to Linfield’ earlier in the week and reflected on what he described as his best season in a blue shirt, as the Blues marched to a domestic treble.

“It was fully deserved and we reaped the rewards for our hard work. Our squad gelled together at the right times. The togetherness we had was unbelievable. Everyone was in it together and we were fighting for each other, for the fans and for the club.”

In each of Matthew’s previous seasons at Windsor Park, the team had finished second in the league and the former Northern Ireland youth international thinks the camaraderie amongst the squad was the key factor in getting over the line, as well as the belief shown in the squad by manager David Healy.

“The togetherness was certainly something that was a key factor in us getting over the line and it’s maybe something we didn’t have as much of before, for whatever reason. The belief that the gaffer installed in us as players was brilliant. He believed in us the whole way through and it showed with the way we were able to handle the pressure in all the big games, particularly the games against Crusaders and the Irish Cup final. We as a squad have a lot to thank the coaching staff for over the past year.”

The 23 year-old struck a formidable partnership with Niall Quinn down the left side and was part of a defence which conceded the least number of league goals last season and in addition, he managed to net a couple of goals from left back.

“Last season was my best season in a blue shirt. The relationship I had with Niall down the left side was very good. ‘Quinny’ and I understand each other’s style, so it’s helpful for both of us. We felt we owed the fans, the club and manager success because quite simply, anything other than being the best is not good enough for Linfield Football Club.”

The Blues returned to training on June 12 after a month off and Clarke says pre-season is going well and he is starting to feel fitter, as he plays more matches.

“Pre-season is going well and as you would expect, it has been tough. It’s been great to be back and see all the lads again because you do miss all the lads, even though it was only a short break. La Fiorita in the Champions League first round first leg proved to be tough opposition, as expected but with the more games we get under our belts, the fitter we will be feeling.”

The former Rangers youth player believes today’s friendly with Hearts can be a hugely beneficial exercise against a good team and a valuable chance to build more match fitness.

“Hearts will be a great test for us, as they’re well drilled and a top SPL team. It’s a great friendly for us and one we can take a lot out of. They’ve quite a few boys who I know and they’ve recently signed Kyle Lafferty, so it will be a hugely beneficial game for us and our supporters.”

Linfield supporters will be wishing Matthew well for the upcoming season and hopefully, this season will be as successful as the last one for the talented young defender and the Blues.
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