Football: Impey says Redknapp `begged me to stay'

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The Independent Online
LEICESTER CITY have signed Andrew Impey for pounds 1.6m even though the midfielder claimed that Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager, had begged him to stay at Upton Park. Impey has signed a three and a half year contract which will keep him with the Foxes until the summer of 2002.

Redknapp had launched a verbal assault against the Hammers' board and claimed Impey had been sold behind his back. But Impey admitted the writing was on the wall for him at Upton Park after he learned a deal had been agreed by West Ham with the Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill.

Impey said: "There has been a lot of talk about the manager [Harry Redknapp] not being happy, and I think the matter was taken out of his hands a bit.

"I had said to him that when everyone at West Ham was fit, I didn't think I would be in the team. He assured me I would be and begged me to stay. But when a club does a deal with somebody else and agrees terms, I think the writing is on the wall. If they were prepared to sell me, then I was prepared to go, although it came as a bit of a shock to me."

Impey also admitted that remarks made after last season's Coca-Cola Cup exit at the hands of Arsenal had led to him being given a rough time by a section of Hammers' fans.

He said: "I am an Arsenal fan and I came up with a comment after they knocked us out of a cup that incensed some of our fans. I wanted to win them over, but then Leicester came in. The manager said that he wanted me to play at Derby on Sunday, but then I found out I was being left out late on Saturday."

O'Neill said: "I was interested in signing him a year ago when he was transferred from QPR, but I never saw it through. He came back available two weeks ago, and that, plus the fact I had only 14 fit players to pick from on Friday, helped to make up my mind, and I think I've got a good player at a decent price

"I don't think there's any problem between West Ham, Harry Redknapp and Leicester City. The things that have been going on over the weekend were an internal matter at West Ham."

n Huddersfield have lost their appeal against the sending off of Belgian goalkeeper Nico Vaesen in the First Division game at West Brom on Saturday, 14 November.

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