Neil aims to add to his Scottish caps

A CONTRACT dispute meant Cardiff City's loss turned into Ipswich Town's gain with keeper Neil Alexander choosing the Blues over the Bluebirds.Alexander agreed a three-year deal with Town after leaving City as a Bosman free agent.

By Derek Davis

A CONTRACT dispute meant Cardiff City's loss turned into Ipswich Town's gain with keeper Neil Alexander choosing the Blues over the Bluebirds.

Alexander agreed a three-year deal with Town after leaving City as a Bosman free agent.

The Scotland international keeper last night revealed he left Ninian Park after chairman Peter Ridsdale refused to honour a deal struck between him and manager Dave Jones.

Alexander explained: “I had been there six years and did very well, especially over the past two years, which were fantastic. In December we agreed a contract, which both the manager and I felt was acceptable.

“We chased the chairman up but by February, when we eventually go hold of him, the contract had been changed.

Most Read

“They said they could not afford to give me what had been agreed so they offered me another contract, which I felt I deserved better.

“It was a case of take it or leave it and that was disappointing as I felt it was not much of a reward for what I had given to the club.

“I spoke to my wife and we made a family decision not to sign and decided to look for another club.

“It was disappointing as I had a fantastic time at Cardiff and enjoyed a great relationship with the fans.

“Now I face these new challenges ahead and hopefully I can have the same sort of relationship with Ipswich fans. I'm glad to be here and looking forward to the next three years where this club can take me to the next level where we both want to be and that is the Premiership.”

The 29-year-old keeper signed a week after Richard Wright rejected a Town offer and chose instead to join West Ham.

Alexander was also in demand with Scottish and English Championship clubs sniffing around but his working conditions and the area he wanted to move his family to swung it Town's way.

He said: “Facilities-wise Cardiff are a few years behind - they are building a new stadium which will take a couple of years and I'm not sure when the training ground will be done, whereas at Ipswich they have everything in place.

“They have a fantastic stadium, incredible training facilities and that gives the club a head start in any league.

“That was one of the things that attracted me to Ipswich because I have not had that in the past six years with Cardiff.

“Coming here with everything in place is something I'm looking forward to.”

Adding to his three Scotland caps is also important to Alexander and he hopes success with the Blues can help him achieve that.

He said: “The national set-up has gone to a completely new level, especially over the past two years at first with Walter Smith and now Alex McLeish.

“There is a belief in the camp which perhaps was not there before. We have done very well in the European Championship qualifiers so far and if we can keep that going and possibly qualify it would be a tremendous achievement.

“Being part of the national set-up is very important to me. I'm very patriotic and as a wee boy playing for Scotland was something I dreamed about.

“Being called up is very important and I love being called up.

“I know Craig Gordon is the established No. 1 but if I can push him you never know and I would love to add to my three caps.”

After working with top coaches Neville Southall and George Wood at Cardiff City, Alexander is now looking to gel quickly with Town's goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes as well as working with Lewis Price and Shane Supple.

He said: “It is important for goalkeepers to have that good bond and get on as they spend most of the day working together. I have heard good things about Andy and I'm looking forward to working with him.

“I have always got on well with my goalkeeping coaches and I'm sure I will with Andy.”

However, Alexander's arrival means it is likely Price will go elsewhere and the new No. 1 has some sympathy for the Wales glove-man.

He said: “I have heard a lot about Lewis and he is very highly regarded. He has done well in the Wales set-up over the past couple of years and he has a fantastic career ahead of him.

“I understand Lewis' position because I have been in a similar situation myself in the past with Cardiff. It is never easy when a club signs a new keeper but people go in and out of football all the time. It is nothing personal - it is just football.

“I'm sure Lewis will go on and have a fantastic career wherever he goes.”

Blues boss Jim Magilton said: “We have two good young keepers at this club but I wanted to bring in an experienced keeper and Neil is a proven performer at this level who has also played on the international stage.

“There were other clubs interested in signing him but we are thrilled that he has agreed to join us.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter