New deal stunned Ashton

Dean Ashton has admitted that he could not believe it when West Ham United offered him a five-year contract at the beginning of last season.

Ashton was forced to quit the game three months ago after failing to recover from persistent ankle problems but will continue to be paid by the cash-strapped Hammers until June 2013.

The former Norwich City and Crewe Alexandra hot-shot never really fully recovered after initially suffering an injury while training with the rest of the England squad in August 2006.

Ashton was quoted in the London Evening Standard as saying:"In hindsight I'm sure they're ripping their hair out.

"At the time I felt I wasn't going to have any more problems and that I'd got back to somewhere near my best and obviously (the previous owners) felt that as well. They didn't want to lose a striker.

"At the time five years seemed a lot. I'd got back and played really well and was in the team every week and I felt like I deserved a new contract. It wasn't up to me but I felt like I'd earned my place back in the team."

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