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Reo-Joker: I was victimised

Filed: Tuesday, 8th April 2008
By: Staff Writer

Aston Villa's Nigel Reo-Coker has claimed he was 'victimised' during his spell at West Ham.

The former Hammers captain - who led the side out in the 2006 FA Cup Final against Liverpool - was booted out of the club last summer after being cited as one of the main protagonists behind Alan Pardew's downfall.

But the 23-year-old midfielder, talking in an interview with the Independent today, claimed that he was innocent of all charges adding that the rumours were 'fabricated'.

"Why? I have no idea," he said.

"The first year was fantastic, everyone was playing off adrenaline. We all had a point to prove and we overachieved. That was probably our downfall.

"In the summer I had an injection for a back injury and missed a full pre-season, as did a few others. After a few games that catches up with you.

"You start to look slow and tired. Fans don't appreciate how important pre-season is, nor did I until then.

"I was captain, the one people look up to, and I got victimised to a degree. As I wasn't getting around the pitch like before people thought I was not trying.

"There were rumours that I felt I was too good for West Ham. It was all fabricated but every time you defend yourself it's another story."

Most supporters were delighted to see the back of Reo-Coker when he was eventually sold to Aston Villa last summer for around £7.5million.

Having fallen foul of the fans after 'shushing' the Bobby Moore stand when scoring against Manchester United he went on to make wholly unsubstantiated claims of racism - a decision seen by supporters as a cynical attempt to engineer a move away from the club.

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