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I came close to rejoining the Bluebirds - defender Gabbidon.

Byline: STEVE TUCKER steve.tucker@walesonline.co.uk

DANNY GABBIDON has revealed how close he came to rejoining Cardiff City, but now the defender is looking to kick-start his career at Crystal Palace.

The 33-year-old was released by QPR this summer and has signed a one-year deal at Selhurst Park although he played no part in the Bluebirds' 3-2 defeat at Selhurst Park on Saturday as he works his way to full fitness.

Gabbidon said he is looking forward to the challenge with the Eagles, but admitted he was disappointed a move back to Cardiff last year did not materialise.

In January 2011, then Bluebirds' boss Dave Jones, attempted to bring the centre-half back to the Welsh capital from West Ham, the club Gabbidon had left Cardiff for back in July 2005.

"It certainly looked as though it would happen, but then West Ham wouldn't let me leave and it all got a bit messed up," he says.

"There was certainly an opportunity there for me to go back, but it didn't materialise in the end. That was a little disappointing.

"I played a lot of games for Cardiff and have a lot of love for the football club. I had some great times and often felt it would be good to go back one day."

Gabbidon has spent the last seven seasons in the Premier League with the Hammers and QPR.

But after being released from Loftus Road by his former manager with Wales, Mark Hughes, Gabbidon spent the summer pondering his future in his hometown of Cwmbran. "I had been training alone to try and maintain fitness," said Gabbidon.

"That's hard because it's so different from working with a fitness coach alongside all the other players. It's tough to keep going, but I made sure I had a base of fitness.

"Palace manager Dougie Freedman gave me a call and for the last couple of weeks I've been training with his squad.

"It feels good to be given an opportunity and if I can play some matches and pass on a bit of my experience then I'll be happy."

Gabbidon has made almost 400 first team appearances during a career which started at West Bromwich Albion and then took him to Cardiff, Well over half of those were for the Bluebirds after he became one of former Cardiff owner Sam Hammam's first signings 12 years ago.

"When I joined City, Sam had not even officially taken over control, but that was pending and I could see the club meant business," said Gabbidon.

"I jumped at the chance of signing for my local club. I joined initially on loan, but soon signed a long-term contract."

The fee was PS500,000 down, a further PS200,000 on promotion and another PS100,000 when City made Championship level.

Gabbidon stayed for five years, leaving at the same time as James Collins in a deal which took them both to Upton Park and he played a key role in City's rise from Division Three to Championship level.

He is now looking to make an impact at Palace under Eagles'. boss Dougie Freedman, but it was another Cardiff connection which also attracted him to the south Londoners.

Gabbidon's former manager at Cardiff, Lennie Lawrence, is currently Freedman's assistant.

"I worked with Lennie for a long time when he was Cardiff manager and have a lot of respect for him," added Gabbidon.

"He has been in the game a long time and has a wealth of experience. He had a lot of input in me signing for Palace. I have a good relationship with Lennie and it's good working with him again."

MEANWHILE the Cardiff City's clash at Blackburn has been brought forward to the evening of Friday, December 7 (7.45pm) and will be shown live on Sky Sports.

ONLINE After Messi has a short back and sides, don't miss our feature on football's dodgiest haircuts log on to www.walesonline.co.uk

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| Danny Gabbidon, pictured celebrating a goal for the Bluebirds against Stoke City in 2003, has revealed he came close to a Cardiff City return early last year
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 25, 2012
Words:689
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