Safri saddened by Carrow Road departure

Former Norwich City midfielder Youssef Safri has told of the pain and anguish he has been going through leading up to his acrimonious departure from Carrow Road to Southampton.

Former Norwich City midfielder Youssef Safri has told of the pain and anguish he has been going through leading up to his acrimonious departure from Carrow Road to Southampton.

The 30-year-old did not wish to enter into a war of words with the Canaries manager Peter Grant, but Safri branded the Scot's comments earlier this week about him being disrespectful and, in certain sections of the media, telling a "pack of lies", as highly unprofessional.

Safri, who was due to meet up with his new team-mates on the South Coast yesterday, had a massive fall-out with Grant on Monday after he missed training and the subsequent annual club photoshoot - for which he claims he was only five minutes late.

"I was very sad to read the comments Peter Grant made about me and I was very hurt. I was hurt and laughing at the same time. I am not going to be as unprofessional and make any comments about that," said Safri, who has joined Saints for an undisclosed fee on a two-year contract.

"Before, I never had any reasons to look for another club. My heart has always been with Norwich City.

"But now I could not be sure about my future and I could not go through another year not knowing whether I was going to be part of the manager's tactics or have a place at Norwich City - I needed to secure my future."

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Safri had a year to run on his Canaries contract and clearly felt he needed more reassurance from the City manager that he would be playing week-in-week-out, but sadly this was not forthcoming.

He added: "My job is as a footballer and that's what I love and I needed to know that I had a future. I'm 100pc sure about my own ability and my personality. I had a lot of calls and texts wishing me all the best and I would like to thank those people for their support."

Safri was fined a week's wages and left out of the squad for the West Ham game on Tuesday, and although he joined in training as usual the following day, the relationship between manager and player had clearly irrevocably broken down.

"I would like to thank the fans for their support during my time at Norwich," added Safri. "Norwich is a club that is very special to me and I will treasure the memories. I had some good times and I was so proud to play for Norwich. I can't lie about that.

"The fans know that I always played with heart and they know that I always tried my best.

"I wish all the staff and the players and the fans all the best and that Norwich get back into the Premiership.

"I'm looking forward to the new challenge I face with Southampton and look forward to trying to get back into the Premiership."

The former Norwich City and Coventry player becomes George Burley's fifth new signing of the summer after Marek Saganowski, Adam Hammill, Gregory Vignal and Alan Bennett and is set to face his old team-mates in only the second game of the season when the Saints come to Carrow Road on August 18.

City boss Grant is just pleased the whole situation has been resolved. He said: "Saf has wanted to leave Carrow Road since my second day in the job and he's now finally got his wish."

Safri was rumoured to have interested, among others, Ajax Amsterdam and Newcastle United, last season, while this summer saw definite interest from West Bromwich Albion, although a move to The Hawthorns was said to have broken down over salary demands.

Grant added: "I respected him in the fact that he came back pre-season and was training very hard, but you had to deal with so many people I didn't know who I was dealing with. One was telling you there was no problem, he wasn't going anywhere, then I find out there's something else who is dealing with him.

"And then the final straw was obviously the first day he disrespects his own team-mates - it's thanks for the memories."

Safri made 90 appearances for City after joining the club for £500,000 from Coventry City in the summer of 2004, scoring four times. He moved to England from his home-town side Raja Casablanca in 2001, making almost 100 appearances for the Sky Blues.