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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Bullard sets the record straight

Jerrad Peters

Hull City paid 5m for Fulham midfielder Jimmy Bullard in January, breaking a club transfer record and signaling increased ambitions and expectations at KC Stadium. ESPN Soccernet caught up with Bullard at his hotel to talk about Hull, manager Phil Brown, injuries and the German national team. Soccernet: When you arrived at KC Stadium Phil Brown said the only way to sell Hull City's plight to Jimmy Bullard was to show him the ambition of the club. What did the manager and Paul Duffen say to persuade you to make the move? Jimmy Bullard: They told me they're only looking forward, really. They're looking upwards. They want to make squad stronger. And they showed belief in me, giving me a four-and-a-half-year contract. They're an up-and-coming club. Do you think the club has the ambition not only to avoid relegation this season but remain in the Premier League for the long haul? Yeah. Without a shadow of a doubt. We've got a great squad of players. They were fourth in the Premier League for some time and they didn't get there by accident. What do you make of your new manager? He seems an ideal boss for a player such as yourself. Phil Brown was one of the main reasons I came here. A lot of the questions I had he answered before I even asked. It was like listening to myself sitting behind the desk. He's a player's manager. You're probably one of the hardest-working players in the Premier League. But you're also something of a dead ball expert. Do you think people appreciate the technical elements of your game? I hope so. I'm sure that people recognize it. I can be a bit of a joker, but I believe I'm good technically. I'm a little bit of a free-kick specialist. I practices my free-kicks every day. How difficult was the rehabilitation from your cruciate ligament injury? Sixteen months out is a long time. There were times when it was very hard for me-when I didn't at all want to go to the gym. I struggled. But I took it day by day and before I knew it I was back out there as a player. You were recently called into the England squad by Fabio Capello. But would you still consider declaring for Germany internationally? Yeah. Without a shadow of a doubt. I've always said I want to play international football. I'll wait and see what comes up. Back to the Hull transfer for a moment. What did you make of Fulham manager Roy Hodgson's remarks that the Cottagers would not match your contractual demands? I didn't like the things that were said. As a manager, I expected [Hodgson] to be in my corner. Those who know me know it's not about the money for me. I love playing football. It's as simple as that. But [Hodgson's remarks] were one of the main reasons why I fell out a bit with Fulham. I wasn't even in contract talks so I don't know how he could say that. Was it a hurtful exit from Fulham? Definitely. I think I had a good relationship with Fulham, with the fans. But the club didn't really want me. And knowing how much Hull wanted me made the decision quite easy. I want to feel wanted. I don't want to play for a team that deep down doesn't want Jimmy Bullard. One last question. If Jimmy Bullard retired tomorrow, what's the one thing he'd hope people would remember about his career? Just really that I enjoyed my football, and that I entertained the fans. • Since this interview took place Bullard's record move to Hull City has been overshadowed by fears he may have re-aggravated a previous knee injury. The 30-year-old missed Saturday's 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion after scans of his right knee were sent to Dr Richard Steadman - the specialist who rebuilt the same knee in the summer of 2007. While the club refused to comment directly on Bullard's fitness, replying in an email that doing so would not "be appropriate.. as we're yet to learn the full extent of the injury," Bullard replied in a text message that results of the scan had yet to arrive. On Tuesday Hull stated the player would be out of 10 days and back for the game against Spurs later this month.


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