Having spent most of the early part of his career away from the English game, Guy Ipoua was somewhat of an unknown quantity upon first signing for Scunthorpe United.
|During the coming days, we'll republish past interviews with legendary former Iron players from our matchday programme.|
Born in Douala, Cameroon, Ipoua played in the French, Italian and Spanish leagues before joining Bristol Rovers in 1998.
He then arrived at United for a trial at the start of the 1999-2000 campaign and he spoke about how the move came about.
“The season was two or three games old and I was invited over for a week-long trial at the club by Brian Laws, who was the manager at the time,” he said.
“The team had a game against Bournemouth a couple of days into my trial and the manager asked me if I wanted to be involved, which I did, so he put me on the bench.
“I came on at half-time when we were 1-0 down but we eventually won 3-1 and I was lucky enough to score the second goal.
“I then started away at Cardiff on the August Bank Holiday Monday a couple of days later, scored another goal and played quite well and I signed a full contract not long after that.
“The club were near the bottom of the league at the time but there was a great bunch of lads within the squad and they all made me feel very welcome.”
Guy went on to score nine goals during his first season in claret and blue but it was during the 2000-2001 campaign the following year that he really showed the United fans what he could do.
The striker netted a further 18 times and established himself as a regular starter due to his prolific form in the final third.
And it was in his second season with United that Ipoua famously scored seven goals in just two games in a week that many Iron fans still remember well to this day.
“My best memory with the club has to be those two games because to score that amount of goals in such a short space of time is something that every striker dreams of,” he explained.
“I scored a hat-trick against Hartlepool in the FA Cup and then four more in the league against Mansfield the game after so that week was pretty special for me and I’m sure there aren’t too many players that can say they’ve done something like that.
“As a centre forward, that’s what you’re paid to do so obviously I was pleased that I was doing my bit for the squad and I hope my teammates saw it that way too.
“Sometimes you don’t get the same thrill out of it when you score a few goals against a team that is four or five divisions below you but Hartlepool and Mansfield were both of a similar standard to us at that point so those two games really stand out for me.
“It puts your name out there because all of a sudden, people want to know who that guy is that scored that many goals and it’s always nice to be talked about in a positive way by people in the football world.”
After scoring 18 times for Scunthorpe by the beginning of February, Ipoua’s goal scoring ability attracted numerous clubs’ attentions and it seemed like just a matter of time before the Iron would be forced to cash in on their prized asset.
Guy eventually joined then Championship side Gillingham but described how his move away from United could have been so different.
He continued: “When you start to score a few goals, you all of a sudden begin to attract a lot of interest from other clubs and I was aware that there were a few teams that were looking to sign me.
“I was in advanced talks to join Sheffield Wednesday at one stage and everything had been agreed between myself, the club and Paul Jewell, who was their manager at the time.
“I was due to sign for them on the Wednesday but the manager was sacked on the Monday and the whole deal just completely fell through.
“Bolton, who were then managed by Sam Allardyce, were also very interested in signing me but I wasn’t completely happy with that move so I turned their offer down.
“But I’d played quite well in a game for Scunthorpe against Gillingham and their manager Peter Taylor told me after the match that he’d like me to join them, which I thought would be a good move for me, but he joined Leicester not long after that and it didn’t look like it was going to happen.
“They eventually came back in for me even though Peter Taylor had left and they were in the Championship at the time so it was a step up for me which was what I was looking for.
“Brian Laws had offered me a new contract at Scunthorpe but I wanted to test myself at a higher level which I think he understood in the end.”
After Gillingham, Ipoua spent time with a handful of other clubs without really being able to rediscover the goal scoring form he showed in North Lincolnshire.
He does however acknowledge that his most productive spell in front of goal was during his Iron stint and will forever be grateful for the help and support he received from everyone at the club in that time.
“I was sad to leave because when you spend a couple of seasons in one place and start to get to know people it’s always hard to say goodbye,” he emphasised.
“I definitely think the club I experienced most success at was Scunthorpe and a lot of that was down to the management team back then, Brian Laws and Russ Wilcox.
“Brian was a very good manager and Russ was player-coach and could always motivate the lads to do better if he felt that we weren’t pulling our weight.
“I had a bad injury at one stage and spent a lot of time with Nigel Adkins during my rehabilitation as well so all three of them really did help me to achieve as much as I possibly could with Scunthorpe.”