‘I never once went on strike’ - Damien Francis opens up about Norwich City departure

PUBLISHED: 18:23 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:24 27 March 2020

Damien Francis was a much-maligned figure during his spell with Norwich City. Picture: John Sibley/Action Images

Damien Francis was a much-maligned figure during his spell with Norwich City. Picture: John Sibley/Action Images

Damien Francis was a much-maligned figure during his two-year spell at Norwich City, and the former Canaries midfielder has opened up on his departure from Carrow Road.

Francis left under somewhat of a cloud after comments made by Nigel Worthington led to him being booed by City’s supporters during a pre-season fixture with Inter Milan in 2005.

The midfielder had been playing cat and mouse over a potential move to Portsmouth following City’s relegation, but says there were two sides to every story as he discussed his City exit.

“I wanted to stay in the Premier League, if I could do. I knew there were clubs interested in me. Norwich themselves knew that as well.

“What happened was, Nigel Worthington was talking quite badly in the local press about me. He mentioned a few things that weren’t actually true, like the club had handed me a new contract.

Francis left City to join Wigan Athletic in 2005 after a summer of speculation. Picture: Nathan Clarke/ArchantFrancis left City to join Wigan Athletic in 2005 after a summer of speculation. Picture: Nathan Clarke/Archant

“A lot of it was that I didn’t want to go tit-for-tat with Nigel or anyone at the club. I respected them,” Francis said.

“I remember my last match was a friendly match. I came on against Inter Milan at half-time and every touch I had, the whole stadium was booing me, but I knew why, because Nigel Worthington had said those things in the press about me.”

City’s former boss described how he wished for players to be committed to the cause at Carrow Road, with Francis the subject of numerous transfer speculation stories.

“It was hard to take. But I wasn’t happy about it. Football careers have their moments where they’re very difficult and the fans don’t know everything about what went on behind the scenes with personal relationships between the clubs and players. A lot happens.

Damien Francis got booed during City's home friendly against Inter Milan. Picture: Nick ButcherDamien Francis got booed during City's home friendly against Inter Milan. Picture: Nick Butcher

“Ultimately, I wasn’t happy moving away from Norwich. I was extremely happy there but if you have a chance to stay in the Premier League, then I was always going to take it, to be honest.”

There was speculation that Francis went on strike to force through a move, something he dismisses out of hand.

“I never once went on strike. I was always training and where I needed to be. If that was the case, they would have fined me.

“In that pre-season, I wasn’t playing because of the situation that was happening with a possible move. He just wasn’t playing me. That’s the real answer. Nobody heard from me when it came to the situation which didn’t help.”

Francis left City later that summer to join Wigan Athletic.

- Our full interview with Damien Francis will be online at PinkUn.com on Saturday morning, with the midfielder reflecting on the 6-0 defeat at Fulham, winning the Division One title and impressing in the Premier League

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