Stewart Downing says the fear of not playing regular first team football was a major reason he left Liverpool this summer. The 29-year-old winger left Anfield for West Ham United in this transfer window and made his Hammers debut on the opening day of the 2013/14 Premier League season, coming off the bench in a home game against newly promoted Cardiff City.
The former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough wide man also says the prospect of being picked for Roy Hodgson's England squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil was another reason he swapped Anfield for Upton Park.
"I just thought I've got a chance of playing. I've got to get back in the squad and at Liverpool that might have been difficult. That [World Cup] is still a big ambition," he told the Mirror, adding, "I've not played for a while, I realise that, but you've got to give yourself every chance. A good season things can turn it around. It did for me when I went to the World Cup in 2006. I was injured, but then played for the back end of the season and got in."
Downing joined Liverpool from Villa Park in 2011, after £20m changed hands. Unfortunately for him, he failed to live up to those expectations, neither scoring nor creating a goal in 36 league appearances that year. His performances improved under Brendan Rodgers last campaign, with three goals and five assists from 29 appearances but that was not enough to cement a first team place this season, particularly with the form displayed by Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and new signing Iago Aspas.
"There were things going on in the background and Newcastle enquired about me. But it sounds like their owners are similar to Liverpool on transfer fees and wages and the player's age. That all comes into the equation, and I think that was obviously a problem for Alan Pardew," Downing added, revealing interest from St James's Park.
"It was a move I was interested in [to Newcastle] and I looked at it, but when I spoke to Sam Allardyce he wanted me straight away. He pushed the boat out to get me, and there's nothing more you want as a player," Downing concluded.