‘Even a couple of the Norwich players questioned my motives’ - Ashton dispels myths around West Ham move
- Credit: PA
Dean Ashton’s move from Norwich City to West Ham United arrived in January 2006 after months of speculation and frustration for the striker.
Ashton committed himself to the Canaries following relegation, penning a new contract due to the obligation he felt to City after giving him his first Premier League break in 2005.
In January of the following season, with promotion from the Championship looking unlikely, then City boss Nigel Worthington declared that Ashton would be available to clubs - surprising everyone, not least the man himself.
“It was news to me,” Ashton recalled of Worthington’s revelation. “At the time there were lots of rumours leading up to January and the transfer window.
“We were mid-table and not really threatening, and I was still reasonably high up in the goalscoring charts, so I believe there were a few rumours flying around at that stage.
“The manager was constantly having to answer that question. At that point I was pretty confident in terms of how good I was and where I could get to, so the reports didn’t faze me too much.”
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Ashton’s move to Upton Park was finalised shortly after the two teams had met in the FA Cup third round - a fixture that the striker was sidelined for, something that raised suspicion. The former Crewe striker had scored 11 goals, earning a £7.25million switch, which was a club record for City at the time.
“The one thing that clouded Norwich fans’ opinions of me a little bit was that the FA Cup third round game was against West Ham at Carrow Road,” he added, speaking to the Hammers’ official website. “I was genuinely injured for that game and I didn’t know at that point that West Ham were going to make an offer for me. I was dealing with a slight groin problem and couldn’t play in that game.
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“Literally the day after, West Ham put a bid in for me that was accepted. It really looked like I had purposely missed the game because I already knew that West Ham were going to make that bid.
“For the record, I didn’t know. Until Norwich told me that the bid had come in and been accepted, I really didn’t know that West Ham were going to make an offer. To some people, it will always look like I did it on purpose. It was a strange and surreal time. Even a couple of the Norwich players questioned my motives at that time.”