NOEL HUNT has revealed that his family have kept him ‘mentally strong’ during his difficult time at Leeds United - with the Irishman finally having reason to smile after his first goal in 22 months, in the colours of loan club Ipswich Town on Saturday.
The 31-year-old had been in the wilderness at United ahead of his deadline-day loan move to the Tractor Boys on Thursday, which saw him link up with younger brother Stephen at Portman Road.
Hunt, who joined United in the summer of 2013 and who has failed to find the net for the Yorkshire outfit, admits he was beginning to doubt his own ability following his nightmare at Elland Road, but he was afforded a welcome fillip on Saturday on his debut for the Suffolk side.
The forward struck a dramatic winner for Town in the televised lunch-time win at Charlton, the first time he has been on the scoresheet since netting twice in Reading’s 4-0 drubbing of Sheffield United in the FA Cup at the Madejski Stadium on January 26, 2013.
Hunt, who is ineligible for this weekend’s clash with parent club Leeds, revealed his relief following the game, with his stoppage-time goal coming after he entered the fray on 84 minutes.
Also alluding to a tough spell in his career, Hunt - whose previous appearance this season was way back on August 12 in Leeds’ Capital One Cup tie with Accrington, said: ‘Challenging’ is one word to describe my last year or so.
“A lot of nonsense gets said about you and it can start to get to you. You have to be mentally strong.
“You do doubt yourself at times, but luckily I’ve got good people around me; my wife, my brother, my parents.”
Hunt is now hoping to build on his strike and get his career back at Ipswich, with his goal having lifted the East Anglian outfit up to second in the Championship table.
Hunt, who is due to stay at Portman Road until January 3, said: “You couldn’t write it.
“Everything has happened so fast for me this week. It’s a dream come true – I’m just delighted to be here. I think I’m the most grateful person in the world right now.”
“I’ve always fancied coming to Ipswich. My brother has kept telling me how good the team spirit is here and how all the boys work for each other.
“I’m here for a month, obviously I’d love to stay longer – absolutely love to – but that will be up to the higher powers.
“I’ll be working my backside off to get offered something in January.”