Kieron Dyer does not mince his words.
Then again, when the chairman of your football club would prefer it if you retired, the gloves are off. "Yeah, I was peed off, to be honest," the midfielder says of the West Ham United co-owner David Sullivan's comments, which were made last year. "But the more you hear of his statements and when you actually meet the man – he's capable of that every day. I do like him. He had a barbecue in the summer and we got on really well. He is just one of these people who, whatever comes to his mind, he will speak it. He doesn't beat around the bush."
Dyer is back on home turf at Ipswich Town, where he started in 1996, having secured a month's loan from West Ham. There is little doubt that his Upton Park statistics make for grisly reading, particularly for Sullivan, who criticised Dyer shortly after he and David Gold took charge, in February 2010. At the time, Dyer had started only five Premier League matches for the club, because of injuries. His total, in all competitions over four seasons, now stands at 17. He cost £6m when he joined from Newcastle United and his basic weekly wage is £65,000. The 32-year-old might have lost count of the number of times that he has been written off but Sullivan did succeed in needling him.
"It's not to prove him wrong, I don't have to prove anything to him," Dyer says, before changing tack. "I am a proud guy and to be reading I am a waste of money and I'm injury prone is not nice. So it gives me the motivation. When you are the chairman of a club, you can say what you want and do what you want. But I would have liked it if he had come and spoken to me first or given me the heads up. To read in the paper that I have to retire was quite disappointing."
Dyer is synonymous with injury, and there has been none worse in his career than the dreadful broken leg he suffered at Bristol Rovers in August 2007, on only his third appearance for West Ham. Yet his frustration is also directed at club doctors.
"I've been wrongly diagnosed with a lot of my injuries," he says. "I was out for a whole season with a hamstring injury but then I go to see a certain specialist and he says it's because I have a 10-centimetre piece of scar tissue. Who's to blame for that? A thigh injury has kept me out for most of this season but then they found out I needed an injection and I haven't felt my thigh since."
Dyer refers to himself as a West Ham player. His Upton Park contract will expire in the summer. He says that he would like to go back and score the goal that keeps the Hammers in the Premier League, to repay the support of the supporters, who have "always been great". But he does not have to spell out how difficult he has found his time at West Ham and his delight at being back at the club he supported as a boy is plain.
Dyer grew up "literally two minutes away" from Portman Road and he has been back regularly to watch the team's matches since his £6m move to Newcastle United in 1999. Together with another former Ipswich player, Titus Bramble, who is now at Sunderland, he has sponsored the club's youth sides for some years.
When Ipswich indicated that they wanted the loan, Dyer jumped at the chance. He signed last Friday and started in a 0-0 draw at Leeds 24 hours later. "His partner was due to have their baby on Saturday," says the Ipswich manager, Paul Jewell, "but there was no call from Kieron to ask for the afternoon off. That tells you how keen he is to play or how squeamish he is – one or the other."
Dyer's fourth child is yet to arrive and he says that in an ideal world, he or she would not do so until Sunday. Ipswich have home fixtures against Watfordon Tuesday and Scunthorpe United on Saturday. He admits that he is "nervous" about playing at Portman Road again.
Dyer will begin to take his coaching badges in the summer, together with a West Ham team-mate, Scott Parker, although he jokes that managing any players like himself or his close friend Craig Bellamy would give him "a heart-attack". In the years immediately ahead, though, he wants to get his enjoyment out of playing.
"I was at West Ham when Dean Ashton was forced to retire," he says, of the former England striker. "As he was doing one last warm-up, all you could hear was 'crunch, crunch' from his ankle. I turned round and he was just in tears on the floor. He knew his career was over. I thought, 'I've got a few muscle tears whereas he is struggling to walk.' In a way, it shows how fortunate I am."
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