at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – England goalkeeper Rob Green admits his dream move to QPR quickly became a nightmare when the Premier League club signed Brazilian Julio Cesar to replace him just weeks after his arrival at Loftus Road.
Green agreed to join QPR in July despite helping West Ham win promotion from the Championship last season because he was assured he would be boss Mark Hughes's first-choice goalkeeper.
But the 32-year-old quickly saw the transfer turn sour as he conceded five goals on his debut against Swansea and then learned that Hughes was planning to sign Cesar to replace him.
Green was initially told that reports of Cesar's arrival from Inter Milan were not true, but the former Norwich star's worst fears were confirmed when he turned on the television to see footage of the Brazilian walking into Loftus Road.
“I came to QPR looking for a new challenge after six years at West Ham, a wonderful time capped off by promotion at Wembley,” Green told the Mail on Sunday.
“Kevin Hitchcock, the goalkeeping coach at QPR, is an old mate and I came to work for him on the understanding that I was first choice.
“If he'd said to me we're also going to sign someone who's won Serie A five times and the Champions League and is one of the biggest names in South American football, I would have thought twice before signing.
“I'd read rumours in the press about Julio coming, but when I asked officials at the club they dismissed it as paper talk and said he wasn't going to sign.”
Inevitably Green soon lost his place to Cesar and when he confronted Hughes he was told he could leave if he was unhappy with the situation.
“Now that the Brazilian had joined the club I needed to know where I stood,” Green said.
“I asked Mark Hughes. He told me Julio was going to play, that I'd done nothing wrong and that he wanted two top keepers competing for the position.
“I replied, 'Well, if he's going straight into the first team he's not really competing, is he? Where does that leave me?”'
“Hughes replied, 'You're free to leave whenever you want'. It wasn't quite what I wanted to hear.”
However, there was a positive twist in the tale for Green as Hughes was sacked last month following QPR's woeful run in the Premier League.
In his place has come Harry Redknapp, who has promised to give the out-of-favour Green a fair chance to compete for the number one shirt.
And with Cesar suffering an injury in Redknapp's first game in charge, Green has regained his place for QPR's last two matches and is determined to hold onto the position.
“I'm in the jersey now and it's up to me to play well enough to keep it,” he added.
“I believe Harry when he says it's a fair fight on form alone so we'll see how it all turns out.” – Sapa-AFP