EX-SAINT DAN HAD TO TURN DOWN POMPEY
FORMER Southampton defender Dan Harding says he rejected the chance to sign for Portsmouth this summer and dropped out of League football to join Eastleigh – because of his love for Saints.
The 31-year-old full-back has signed for the big-spending Vanarama National League promotion hopefuls after his release from Nottingham Forest.
And Harding, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Millwall, says the three years he spent helping Southampton rise from League One to the Premier League between 2009 and 2012 played a major part in his decision.
He said:“‘At the end of last season if you would have asked me, I would never have thought I would be retiring from full-time professional football at the age of 31.
“Early on I had a few offers from different clubs, one being Portsmouth. Don’t get me wrong, Portsmouth is a big club and I would imagine they are going to do very well this season. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
“I had the best three years of my life at Saints and I still consider myself a fan. It would not have felt right for me to sign for them.”
Harding joins a host of players with Championship experience at the Silverlake Stadium, with Andy Drury leaving Luton to join Richard Hill’s men this summer and ex-QPR winger Lee Cook signing after being let go by League Two new-boys Barnet.
“Richard said he was happy for me to come and train with him and the lads until I found the right club for me,” says Harding, who started his career at Brighton and has also played for Leeds and Ipswich. “If I am honest, I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did.
“The facilities are very good and all the staff, manager and players were amazing and made me feel very welcomed.
“I just want to play and enjoy it, and I hadn’t done that for a good few years.”
LOYAL: Dan Harding