Jose Fonte opens up to Graeme Souness about his transfer from Southampton to West Ham

Jose Fonte spoke to Graeme Souness about his Southampton exit and why stories of a transfer request were not true

Ahead of a Monday Night Football clash with Chelsea, Jose Fonte has opened up to Graeme Souness about his transfer from Southampton to West Ham.

Fonte sealed an £8m move to the Hammers in January but believes he was unfairly criticised for his departure.

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Here, the former Southampton captain speaks candidly to ex-Saints manager Souness on why he decided to leave St Mary's and what went on behind the scenes in a complicated transfer affair…

Graeme Souness: Jose, why West Ham?

Jose Fonte: In the summer, there were a few offers, including West Ham. But in January they came back in and it was a no brainer for me because of the size of the club and the move to the Olympic Stadium.

The passionate fans they have and also the ambition of the manager and the chairman. It was an easy descion to choose West Ham. London is also closer to my wife's side of the family - so provided her more help to raise the kids. Everything made sense and I'm extremely happy.

Jose Fonte playing against former club Southampton earlier this month

GS: It looks exciting times at West Ham. They look to have a chance to become a big club.

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JF: They didn't have the easiest of starts but it's coming along really nicely now. Obviously with the Dimitri Payet situation - but the transfer window is over now and we got Robert Snodgrass, who is a great player.

I look around the dressing room and I see a lot of talent and a great manager. I see a lot of team spirit and a lot of possibilities - not only for this year but also for next season. We're in great shape for the future - it's an exciting time.

GS: Let's talk about the London Stadium. It's the same size pitch, same players, same ball - but what do the players say about the early form at the stadium?

JF: When things don't go well, you try to find any kind of excuse. What we have to get in our head is that it's the same for both teams. You don't want to play in League One and League Two pitches - you want to play on a massive pitch in the Olympic Stadium with beautiful grass.

That's where you're going to express yourself in good conditions. For me, it's a question of 'get on with it' and accept it. Come up with a gameplan, with a solution and that's what we've been trying to do. It's a big change from the old ground but we are growing as a club. We know where we want to go and want we want to become a big club - we can't have excuses about the stadium. It's a great stadium. When we are playing well, it's fantastic.

Fonte helped Portugal win Euro 2016 in the summer
Image: Fonte helped Portugal win Euro 2016 in the summer

GS: You had a great European Championships and came back to Southampton - what happened next?

JF: I spoke to the club and said there could be possibilities [to move] and I would like the club to consider it.

GS: Seven years with the club shows you were a good servant. Did the club not get that? If someone is coming to you offering a better deal, then Southampton had to understand that you was in demand. I think you can't have enough experienced players in the dressing room - you won't have a successful team if you don't have people like yourself, good seasoned pros that put the lesser likes in the dressing room in their place before it becomes a problem.

JF: I appreciate what the club had done for me since day one but we all have to take care of our families. There were offers that came in that would take care of my family in ways that Southampton weren't willing to. It's a difficult situation.

I arrived in the Premier League late at 29 years old - you still have to live 50 years after football. You do your best for yourself and your family. You've got to fight for what you believe. I respected the club, but they weren't willing to find an agreement and reach a compromise.

GS: Is it harsh if the crowd give you a bad reception?

JF: I understand. But they don't know all the facts. What they can't forget is the seven seasons and all the success we had together. That's the main thing we should remember and relish. It's a disappointing ending with the things said about me and the situation - which was not true. It was disappointing to see that.

We look ahead to Monday's clash between London rivals West Ham United and Chelsea

GS: The club want to portray you as a bad guy - that's the reality. You're the one that wanted to leave - you're the one that wanted to make all the demands. That's how it appears to someone who doesn't understand the game. Supporters out there will say Jose left us in the lurch as we lost Virgil [van Dijk] to injury and we were short in the cup final. But your conscience is completely clear of it?

JF: It's completely clear. When I see all over the news that I submitted a transfer request to leave the club - that's disappointing. That never happened. There was an interview from the club; from a press conference that I demanded to leave, which then the press took it as a transfer request and I wonder where is it?

As I said before, in the summer there were possibilities of leaving - that's normal, everyone fights for their own interests to get the best possible outcome for yourself. To say that I wrote an official transfer request to the club, that's a lie. And also that I refused to train and I wasn't being a good captain? That's a complete lie. I've always given my best to that club. That's the main thing the fans should know. My conscious is very clear.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27: Charlie Austin of Southampton (L) celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Jose Fonte of Southampton (C) during the
Image: Fonte enjoyed huge success during his spell with Southampton

GS: Do you think you've been unfairly criticised in the manner of how you left Southampton?

JF: No doubt. You need to know all the facts. It's tough to see in the press you've put in a transfer request, which I didn't. I never wrote a letter to the manager or the club saying I want to leave because even when that came out in the beginning of January I didn't have a club to go to, so why would I put in a transfer request?

It was tough to see that and to hear people saying bad stuff about you when it's a lie. But this is football - you learn how to deal with things like this. At least I have the opportunity to put it right.

GS: What do you want to say to the Southampton supporters that think you forced your way out of there? I've managed the club and lived there for 12 years - it's a fabulous area to live in - it must have been a wrench. What is your message?

JF: The real fans know I've given everything for the club. They know everytime I step on the pitch and put on the shirt, I give blood, sweat and tears. I've played with broken toes, broken ribs. I've done all I could to help the team go from League One to the Premier League.

All I want them to know is that what they see in the press about me putting in a transfer request and I refused to train, that's all lies. I've never rejected to train or play. I want to play every game and every minute. I was a good professional as the manager said in the press. It's hard to see when people are saying I'm a bad egg or an apple.

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Watford 1-1 West Ham

GS: Where was that coming from?

JF: I saw some things in the press that people had heard I was not being a good captain. That's very disappointing.

GS: Football is a small world and I hear a lot, especially being in the media and I've heard you were a good captain.

JF: It's something I give importance to. You have to be an example. I was in a difficult situation but considering things since the summer I think I behaved in a good way. It wasn't the ending everyone wanted but it happened, so we have to move on.

Watch more of Jose Fonte's interview withe Graeme Souness in the build-up to Monday Night Football: West Ham v Chelsea. Coverage starts from 7pm on Sky Sports 1 HD.

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