As many local football fans will by now know, Australia’s World Cup star Lucas Neill this week completed a move from English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers to relegation-threatened West Ham, at the same time spurning a bid from English giant Liverpool, the club Neill supported as kid growing up in Australia.

On the surface, the choice would appear to have been clear-cut for Neill: go with Liverpool, one of the biggest and richest clubs in Europe and likely to be offering the ultimate European club-based stage of regular Champions League football; or head to the Hammers, a club offering a much higher pay packet and a greater chance of regular first-team football, but who aren’t even guaranteed a place in next season’s English Premiership.

Neill’s decision to move to the East London club has prompted much debate in the English press, with the consensus being that the move was motivated by money rather than the more noble pursuit of playing in European football’s premier competition with one of the world’s biggest clubs.

This view is summed up by the fact that popular fan website Football365 has rather wittily dubbed the prospective Australian skipper “Lucre” Neill.

For what it’s worth, Neill reasoned that he chose the Hammers over the Reds by saying: “Overall I was getting a cold feeling from Liverpool and a volcanic heat from West Ham, so that was why I chose them.

“(West Ham) told me that they were desperate for me to come here and play, which is what every player wants. Nobody wants to go to a big team and then just sit in the stands.”

Liverpool chairman Rick Parry, obviously aggrieved at missing out on his man, responded to Neill’s comments by saying he was “bemused” by the Socceroo’s decision.

“From our side, we never want to be in a position where someone is only coming here for the money. A player has to be driven by something more than that,” Parry said.

“Because of the stature, history and ambition of Liverpool, there should be no need for us to sell the merits of this club.”

Which is all rather interesting.

From here, Parry’s comments sound like someone who is filthy that a player ridiculously spurned the opportunity to come to one of the biggest and richest clubs in Europe to go to a club that is presumably not as big and rich as Liverpool for the simple reason that he was offered more money by the latter club.

I wonder if Parry can appreciate the irony in all this.

Peter Fray

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