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Bilic ´a big factor´ in my West Ham exit – Downing

Stephen Downing revealed he felt Slaven Bilic did not want him to remain at West Ham, following his move to boyhood club Middlesbrough.

Downing called Upton Park home for two seasons, playing 69 Premier League matches for seven goals – but the 31-year-old said Sam Allardyce’s sacking in May also stamped his exit papers.

While the former Liverpool attacking midfielder spoke with Allardyce’s successor Bilic to determine his West Ham future, he felt the Croatian tactician was not overly keen on keeping him.

“The change of manager was a big factor,” Downing said.

“If Sam had stayed, then I’m sure he’d have had a good sit down to try to persuade me to stay.

“After speaking to Slaven, I didn’t get that feel of someone who really wanted me there. He said, ‘I’d love you to stay’, but I didn’t get the feeling that I got when Sam signed me.

“With two years left, and no offer of a contract extension, the time was right to move.”

Downing has found himself back in the Championship for the first time in his career, with his previous years at Boro spent in the Premier League from 2001-09.

“The big pull is that I’m from here,” said Downing.

“I wouldn’t have gone to any other club in the Championship.

“When the chairman explained his plans – who he’s going to sign, and the type of players he’s going to get – that convinced me to come back.”

Fri 24 Jul, 2015
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