Former Forest and West Ham star Marlon Harewood thrilled to sign for Hartlepool United

STAR IN STRIPES: Marlon Harewood. Picture courtesy of www.hartlepoounited.co.uk
STAR IN STRIPES: Marlon Harewood. Picture courtesy of www.hartlepoounited.co.uk

MARLON Harewood has described signing for Hartlepool United as a “no-brainer” and said he is looking forward to hitting the ground running.

The 34-year-old former Premier League forward yesterday signed on the dotted line at Victoria Park to the delight of Colin Cooper, who was pleased to finally get his man.

The pair played alongside each other at Nottingham Forest in the mid-1990’s, where 17-year-old Harewood looked up to team-mate and future manager, Cooper.

London-born Harewood, who stands at 6ft 1in, said he had no hesitations in signing for the Sky Bet League Two club – who are sitting in 16th place – when contacted by Cooper following his release from Bristol City a fortnight ago.

He will wear the number nine shirt at Pools, vacated recently by Steve Howard, who left the club by mutual consent in November.

Cooper revealed after the weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Rochdale that he had made firm inquiries about three players and as SportMail revealed on Saturday, Harewood was one of them.

The deal, the club’s first of the January transfer window, was confirmed yesterday to the delight of the gaffer and his new striker.

Harewood told SportMail: “It feels great to have signed for Hartlepool United and this is a very exciting time for me at this stage of my career.

“I know Colin from my time at Nottingham Forest and he has had nothing but good things to say about Hartlepool.

“The gaffer is one of the main reasons I have signed as I used to look up to him when I was starting out as a young player, I know the standards he sets himself and the club with regards what he is trying to achieve here.

“For someone like that to ask me to come was a great opportunity and it wasn’t so much the way he sold the club but the way Colin goes about his business.

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“He is very well respected and to be honest, for me, this decision was a no-brainer.

“There were a few lads at Forest who you thought could go on to make good managers and Colin was certainly one of them.

“I am looking forward to working with him and excited about the challenge ahead.”

Over the course of his career Harewood has scored 137 goals in 526 career appearances and was also attracting the interests of Mansfield Town but opted for Pools.

The powerful former West Ham United, Aston Villa and Newcastle United striker will train with his team-mates at Maiden Castle for the first time today and goes straight into the squad for Saturday’s League Two match away to Fleetwood Town.

And he is promising fans hard work and goals.

The striker hasn’t seen Pools live this season but said he has seen highlights and is looking forward to pulling on the blue and white jersey.

Harewood, from Hampstead, said: “I am looking forward to training, meeting all the lads and playing.

“It is obviously quite a young squad but I’m looking forward to contributing and playing my part.

“The manager spoke very highly of the players that he has at Hartlepool and I was really keen to be part of it.

“I will work hard for the team, score some goals and help the lads out with the hard work they have been putting in this season and hopefully take some of the pressure off.”

Pools have not revealed the length of his contract but he will be at the Clarence Road club until the end of the season at least.

Harewood came through the ranks at The City Ground before moving to West Ham United, who paid £500,000 for his services and he went on to top score with 23 goals as The Hammers won promotion to the Premier League.

He then went on to play for Aston Villa, who paid £4m for him, before loan spells at Wolves and Newcastle United and since 2010 has played Championship football for Blackpool, Barnsley and Forest and also spent six months at Chinese side Guangzhou R&F.

He made seventeen appearances for Bristol City, scoring just once, before a change in management meant his opportunities became limited.