Trinidad and Tobago striker Stern John on Wednesday afternoon signed a new one-year contract with English Championship Division club Crystal Palace.
John signed the deal following the last few weeks of negotiations which included interest from Southampton as well as Queen's Park Rangers among a couple other clubs and said he was delighted to have joined the London-based club which he described as “Sleeping giants”.
"I'm delighted to have signed for Crystal Palace. It's another move for me at a new club. It's a new challenge for me and one that I'm definitely looking forward to," the 32-year-old John told TTFF Media on Wednesday.
Palace are renowned for running one of the finest academies in English football, having had 12 academy players progress into the first team within the last 18 months and current manager Neil Warnock is intent on trying to take the club back to the top flight in English football.
“Especially when you think about how the football world is today I’m happy about the new deal. I wasn’t really worried because I was on a free transfer so it was a matter of picking the right team. Neil Warnock had been trying to sign me for the last five years or so and I felt good about this decision,” John said.
“I want to do well for the club and put them back into the spotlight. I think of them as one of the sleeping giants in the UK and this is a fantastic challenge for me to help take them up. I’m with a team of young players as well so I see my role as important from the front where I can try to lift the club by scoring goals and sharing my experience,” he added.
The former Birmingham City forward mentioned that he spent the last few works getting back into top fitness level and will be ready for the call from the T&T National team with a World Cup qualifier at home to El Salvador approaching on August 12.
“Once I get the opportunity to play for the national team I will definitely take it. My house is in order now with respect to my professional career which means that there’s a little less to take on now. I definitely would love to get my international career back on track. I’ve never turned my back on my country and I believe we still have a very good chance of qualifying for the World Cup. We need to have everyone on board and in good shape from players to officials and the fans,” John concluded.
He will have his first session with Palace on Thursday.
Palace is John’s eighth club in England since moving over from the American Major League Soccer in 1999.. He previously campaigned with Nottingham Forest (1999-2002), Birmingham City (2002-2004), Coventry City (2004-2007), Derby County (on loan, 2005), Sunderland (2007), Southampton (2007-2009) and Bristol City (on loan, 2008-2009). John has netted 86 goals in 315 appearances in England He also netted a record 44 goals in 55 appearance for Columbus Crew in the MLS in 1998-1999. He remains T&T’s topscorer in international football with 69 goals in 109 appearances.
View Stern John Tribute video
Stern's best moments in a Blues shirt
Wroe: Stern will be a hit at Palace
By Richard Cawley (South London Press)
STERN John's agent has revealed the reason the striker has agreed to sign for Crystal Palace - manager Neil Warnock.
The experienced front man will pen a 12-month deal with the Eagles once he has passed a medical, choosing to reject new terms from Southampton as well as the option of going to play in the States.
And Des Wroe, who represents John, told the South London Press: "When Stern met Neil he was really impressed - he's the ideal manager for him at this stage of his career.
"Stern brings a whole wealth of experience - he's played in the top flight, at the World Cup and arguably his goals have kept Southampton in the Championship in previous years. Last year he didn't play a lot but he still found the net - his goalscoring record is there for all to see.
"If you supply the ammunition he scores goals. And he'll also be brilliant for the young players Palace have got - they will all be able to relate to Stern because of the way he is.
"If you look through his stats he's not been spoon-fed - he's earned his career. You only earn respect when you've done it.
"He's just been made to feel so wanted at Palace. Everyone has been so welcoming and he got a good feeling straight away."
John antics displease Pardew.
Saints boss slams actions of former striker
Southampton boss Alan Pardew has revealed his disappointment at the manner of Stern John's exit from the club.
The Saints had been hoping to tie up a new deal for the Trinidad & Tobago international, with his previous contract having come to an end.
Pardew claims the indications he got from the striker were that he was also keen to agree new terms.
However, having been offered the option of a switch to Championship outfit Crystal Palace, John has subsequently completed a move to Selhurst Park - much to Pardew's disgust.
"I'm not best pleased if I'm honest," he told the Southern Daily Echo.
"He kept making excuses about his agent and because of the loyalty I thought he had to Southampton and the character he had I assumed this was correct. I think he even mentioned that his agent had some family troubles.
"You think that everything is fine because he never asked us for more money, never implied that there was a problem and then he came to see me on Thursday I think and said he had an offer from the Championship and he was going to leave.
"My reply was 'see you later'."