Millwall had agreement for keeper before deal took a change of direction

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Neil Harris has revealed that Millwall had reached agreement with goalkeeper David Martin on a new deal before West Ham United swooped in.

The 33-year-old will join the east London club on July 1, when his Den deal expires.

“We spoke before the season finished about him staying – he wanted to stay, we offered him a contract and he accepted it verbally,” said Harris. “It was just a question of getting it done. Right at the 11th hour West Ham showed an interest and he wanted to explore that avenue.

“I know there were a lot of ties for Dave and his family at West Ham. It became quite clear he was keen on that one, so I knew relatively early there was a real possibility Dave was going to go.

“That’s football and that’s business. You do get very close to a signing – it’s done and it changes. It’s just a reminder to everyone that nothing is agreed in contract law until it is signed on the paperwork.

“I really understand Dave’s draw to West Ham – he lives by the ground and it is where he grew up as a fan, watching his dad play.

“Players, quite a lot of times, can take thoughts of rivalry out of it.

“Yes it is a fierce rivalry between the two clubs, but for a player it becomes a lot more paramount about location, contract length and the figures in it when you are a family man.

“It’s not just Dave, it will be the same situation for Jota and Gary Gardner, who are swapping Birmingham and Villa at the moment. The contract will dictate to a player whether he goes or not.

“It means we’re looking for two goalkeepers rather than one.

“We are in talks and a long way down the line with one. I’m relatively positive there will be an outcome on that one too.”