New Crystal Palace signing James Tomkins has revealed that working once again under Alan Pardew was a big attraction as he mulled over his £10 million move to the Eagles.
The centre-back has signed a five-year deal at Selhurst Park which ends his long association with West Ham United, a club where he was handed his first tentative steps as a professional footballer by the current Eagles boss over a decade ago.
After going on to make nearly 250 appearances for the Hammers, Tomkins felt that the time was right to leave the Irons, and when he heard of Palace and Pardew’s interest he knew where his future lay.
“I’m really excited to be here,” he said. “I was at West Ham United for a long time – I was there nearly 20 years since I was eight-years-old so it’s a good change for me and I’m really excited to get started here. It’s a massive club; they’re London based and I’ve worked with Alan Pardew before as a scholar.
“He helped me through by getting me training with the first-team when I was a kid and got my career started which I’ve always been thankful for, so it’s nice to be reunited with him. He’s been interested in signing me previously so it was an easy decision when I heard Palace were interested.”
The 27-year-old participated in his first day of training with his new teammates today following the Eagles’ return to pre-season training and he has revealed that his first impressions have been very positive, something he expected after talking to an Eagles old-boy.
“I spoke to Danny Gabbidon and he talked about how good the lads were,” Tomkins said. “I’ve only been here a day and I’ve already settled in so I’m thankful to the lads for that. They’re a great bunch and hopefully I’ll get to know them more in pre-season.
“It’s nice to start now and have a proper pre-season under your belt at a new club and I‘m looking forward to getting that fitness in me.”
Having watched Palace from afar last season, and playing against them in West Ham’s 3-1 success at Selhurst Park in October last year, the Englishman is hoping that his new side can improve on last season’s 15th place finish, and has his eyes firmly set on a much higher position in 2016/17.
“There was a bit of disappointment towards the end of last season for Palace but hopefully we can build on that this year,” Palace’s third summer signing continued. “I’m sure we’ll be looking to get in the top half this year and it’ll be interesting to see how he feels we can progress.
“Given how ambitious the owners and the chairman are and with a few numbers coming in, the top half is a good goal to look at. That would be an improvement from last year and we want to keep progressing, and I want to be a part of it. There’s a nice feeling around the place and it feels like we’re going places here.”