Jabo Ibehre on a fantastic two years with Carlisle UnitedPopular forward Jabo Ibehre admitted today that he leaves Cumbria with a heavy heart having enjoyed a fantastic two-year stay with the club which saw him notch 31 goals in 85 appearances.
“I think everyone will know this hasn’t been an easy decision for me to make,” he said. “The two years I had with Carlisle United have flown by and it’s been amazing. I’ve had an absolutely fantastic time and I’ve been made to feel so welcome.
“Everyone from the manager, to his staff, the players, the club staff and, of course, the fans have been superb with me. I appreciate that so much and I know it’s something I’ll always remember and look back on fondly.”
“When you enjoy your time at a club as much as I have with Carlisle it really does make it a tough decision to move on,” he confirmed. “It’s a place where I arrived alone but I feel like I’ve made a really good family up there.
“We were so close to getting the job done this season, because we all worked so hard to try to get the club promoted, and it was a really exciting time. I have no doubt at all that Keith and his squad will get there and do it next season.”
With a young family to think of, he told us: “The main reason for the decision I’ve made is that I have to think about my family and loved ones down in London. Everyone knows what we went through with the little one last year and sometimes you have to balance your work life with the needs of those close to you.
“That side of things counts for a lot with me and, as I say, it’s effectively why I’ve made this decision. I’ve said a number of times that I’ve got back to enjoying my football again this last two years and they weren’t just words, I meant it.
“From the moment I spoke to the manager and Lee Dykes in Manchester two summers ago I knew this club was going to be a good fit. Keith spoke with such passion about where he wants Carlisle United to go and that’s why I know it’s a place that will push on.
“I’m happy I got to work with him because he’s a tough taskmaster who gets the best out of the players around him. It’s been a fantastic two years and it’s flown by. Saying goodbye is never easy.”
Speaking about the particularly strong relationship he built up with the fan base, he said: “The way the fans have taken to me has been overwhelming at times. The amount of warmth and the messages they send me really do take your breath away. I’ve felt how much they’re part of it with you whether you win, lose or draw and I don’t think they could have been any better with me.
“It was amazing to see the big flag appear during my first season and that meant so much to me it’s hard to even put it into words. I know people don’t believe it but I’m actually quite shy as well, so having things like that happen makes it easier to settle and get out there and perform to the best of your ability.
“You basically want to do it for the fans because you know they want the best for you as an individual. It's a huge shame that I’m leaving that behind and I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart for the way everyone has been with me.”
Looking back at his impressive scoring record, which included an unbelievable start to his first season with us, he said: “I’m pleased with the amount of goals I scored in my two years. I’m grateful for the opportunity I was given and I hope I paid some of the faith shown in me back.
“I did tell the gaffer when I felt I ‘had the juice’ and we had a great understanding. Like I say, everything he told me we’d do, we’ve done it. We almost got the promotion at the end of it but I’ve got no doubt the club will do it next year because I know what’s going on there.
“I’d like to see a lot of people up there again because it’s one of my favourite clubs I’ve ever played at. I hold everyone up in Carlisle close to my heart and I wish everyone all the best.”
So what next for the big front man?
“I definitely want to stay in football and hopefully a new challenge awaits,” he told us. “I love improving and trying to get better and I’ve learned a lot from being up in Carlisle and pushing things to the limit.
“Now another challenge is out there and hopefully I can bring positivity and happiness to the next place I go to. What I will say is that if I end up at another club and I play against Carlisle United there is no chance I’ll be celebrating if I score. No way!
“I’ve never done that throughout my career because I’m very respectful of things like that. I’ll definitely wave and point to the fans because sometimes football is about enjoying the moment and if you score it’s about embracing everyone. It isn’t just about you; it’s for all the people who want to see you do well.”
“The main thing I want to say to everyone in Carlisle is thank you,” he concluded. “It’s been brilliant, it really has, and I wish nothing but the best for everyone connected with the club.”