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CLUB STATEMENT

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PUBLISHED

10:00 7th February 2013

by Andrew Poole

Walker leaves by mutual consent...

WALSALL Football Club can today announce that we have agreed to cancel the contract of James Walker by mutual consent.

“This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make,” said Walker. “This club is very close to my heart and will always be part of me. However, things have not panned out as I would have hoped this season and I have not been able to play as influential role as I would have liked.

“I am at a stage of my career where I need to take stock and consider my options.

“One of my proudest ever moments was becoming The Saddlers’ all-time Walsall FC appearance record holder and that will live with me until the end of my days.

“I wish the club all of the best in the future; we have a young and exciting team at present and the future looks bright.

“Most of all I would like to thank the supporters who have taken me in as one of their own and made my time here something I will never forget.”

Walsall FC Chief Executive, Stefan Gamble, paid tribute to Jimmy.

“Jimmy goes down in history as one of the club’s greatest-ever players and the all-time appearance record holder.  It will be many years before that record is broken, if ever.

“He has been a fantastic servant to the club and I would like to place on record our thanks and wish him well in the future.”

Walker started his career as a trainee at Notts County, where he signed professional forms in July 1991. However, he failed to make an impact on the first-team at Meadow Lane and was released at the end of the 1992/93 campaign.

Picked up by The Saddlers in the summer of 1993 on a free transfer, he went on to give fantastic service to the club over the next 11 years, making more appearances for Walsall than any other goalkeeper.

He played a key role in helping The Saddlers secure promotion in 1994/95, 1998/99 and 2000/01 and then establish ourselves in the second-tier of English football for a record-breaking three consecutive seasons.

During 2003/04 he was given a richly-deserved Testimonial before he finally left the club to join West Ham United in the summer of 2004 and his first season at Upton Park saw him help the Upton Park outfit return to the top-flight as well as saving a penalty from Frank Lampard in a League Cup tie with Chelsea.

However, a serious injury sustained in the play-off Final kept him sidelined for much of the following season in the Premier League.

Making his Premier League debut at the age of 32 in March 2006, he also collected an FA Cup runners-up medal having been an unused substitute in the Final.

His first-team chances became even more limited in 2006/07 and eventually he dropped further down the pecking order before being released in the summer of 2009.  He did have a 16-game loan spell with Colchester United during 2008/09 and appeared for The U's at Banks's Stadium in a 2-0 defeat for his side.

Harry Redknapp took him to Tottenham Hotspur in September 2009 where he provided cover without making a first-team appearance.

After returning to Banks's Stadium in October 2010, initially on a short-term deal which was later extended, he broke through the 500 senior appearances barrier and signed a new one-year deal during the summer of 2011.

On January 14th 2012 he made his 530th senior appearance for the club and in doing so beat Colin Harrison’s all-time Walsall FC appearance record, which had stood for 30 years.

Signing a new deal in July 2012, which also saw him take on coaching responsibilities.

James Walker has been a fantastic servant to the club over the years and is a true Saddlers’ legend.  He will always be a welcome face here at the Banks’s Stadium and we wish him and his family all the best for the future.

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