Nigel: I'll Sign

Nigel Winterburn has agreed terms with West Ham to bring a close to his career at Upton Park - and says: Now I have to earn my place again!

Nigel knows that being kept on at the club means a fight with Vladimir Labant to get his name on the team sheet, and that Vlado is likely to be that much more settled and strong with a good preseason under his belt in the next campaign, but he smiles:

"Now we've reached agreement I've got to try and get in the team - but it's a case of seeing what happens, and, as always, I will give 100%."

Glenn Roeder had been initially unwilling to make a decision on Nigel with the climax of the season approaching, but, as Nigel asked for an early judgment, Glenn reluctantly suggested that a move elsewhere for more 'guaranteed' regular football in his last year might be helpful.

But Nigel, through word and deed, made it clear that he wanted to stay, even if it didn't mean playing every week, and he says:

"These things happen in football; but if West Ham hadn't changed their minds it would have been first division football for me.

"I don't really care why they did - they have, and they must have thought I could still do a job after all.

"It means I will be bowing out against the best players in the world, and I am very pleased after being told six weeks ago I was not wanted as such.

"I am surprised but I am pleased and, although I have taken a substantial cut in wages, I have always said money was not the driving force."

Although it was reported last week that he had already signed for one more year, that was not, in fact the case, and he has yet to put pen to paper.

But that is simply a formality, and Nigel says:

"I will sign as soon as the contract is drawn up."

It does mean, however, that several other clubs will be disappointed, but Nigel adds:

"I am aware of that, but at the end of the day, I always made it clear that if West Ham offered me a contract I wanted to stay here."

Glenn Roeder is delighted that matters have worked out for all concerned, and says:

"Nigel has earned another year, completely on merit and form; there is no room for sentiment in football, and if I didn't think he could play another year I wouldn't have offered him it.

"I looked at the whole season, but particularly the last five or six weeks - next year will be his last year, and that will be motivation enough for him."