Photo Courtesy of Millwall FC
After Jordan Archer and Tom King were released from their contracts, Ben Amos returned to his parent club on loan, David Martin crossed the river to join West Ham United and Bartosz Białkowski was involved in a will they/won't they romance that would make Ross and Rachael from Friends blush, many fans on social media decided to be somewhat vocal when it came to Millwall's position between the sticks...
Seeming like we would be entering pre-season with Zampa in goal, there were many other players on the forefront of supporters' minds and we were shocked when the signing of Frank Fielding was announced. Starting his career at Blackburn Rovers, Fielding never featured for the former Premiership champions, but has gained a vast wealth of experience when playing in the Football League for the likes of Wycombe Wanderers, Northampton Town, Leeds United, Rochdale and Derby County from 2007-2011. His spell with the Rams was made permanent in 2011 and the 'keeper went on to make 64 appearance in all competitions for County after the ink dried on his full time deal.
After losing his place in the team to Adam Legzdins, Fielding was on the move again, but this time to the west country where he joined Bristol City in June 2013. Featuring in 181 games in all competitions over his near six years at the Robins, Fielding may've had spells during his time where he was in an out of the side, but the shot stopper went on to win the League One title, Football League Trophy and was named in the PFA League One team of the season in 2014-15 for his goalkeeping efforts. The new signing has also been lucky to don the Three Lions of England and has been involved with the under-21 and full squads since 2010.
Speaking at the time of his signing, Millwall boss Neil Harris said, "We're obviously delighted - Frank is a player we've chased throughout the summer. His pedigree at this level is outstanding, he's a fantastic professional and he's great to have in the dressing room. He's very important for us in that department, because he has played plenty of important games in his career. We're really pleased to bring in a top goalkeeper and team player."
"Frank has played with and for some people I know, and they've given me great character references," Harris continued,
"it's important as a goalkeeper at our club to be a big personality, and he wanted to come here and play. He is desperate to play games, to continue to prove himself, and at 31 as a goalkeeper is just coming into his prime. He's a northern lad who wanted to come here to London, he wanted to come here after fighting for promotion with Bristol City, and that's vital for us."
"Frank had some serious misfortune last year, which hopefully now is in the past. His record before that was outstanding, and you want your players in as early as you can. It's not always possible to do that. This one has been a case of to-ing and fro-ing on various bids, but Lee Turner [goalkeeping coach] will get him up to speed, and apparently his work ethic on the training pitch is phenomenal. That's exactly what we want to recruit this summer - top characters, top trainers, and those who have the same training and game mentality."
"There are so many elements that go into a deal these days. It's not just about money or agents - it can be about opportunity to play, family life, managers meeting players - there is always so much to consider. Things don't just happen overnight - this window particularly has been very slow so far - but it is about the right players at the right values. It has been very important to bring in additions to the group such as Frank and securing the deal for Alex Pearce, and we'll continue to build that way there."
Fielding echoed the words of his new manager after signing for the Lions saying, "I'm delighted to be here now. It took a while to get over the line, but now it's done, and I'm delighted to be getting started here. The manager set his stall out from the beginning just after the end of last season, showing his interest in me straight away. Whilst it took a while to get done, these things happen and now it's great to be here at Millwall."
"I'll look to pass on my experience any way I can. I want to ensure we are better, I want to come in and improve us as a team, and make sure we get the wins on the board. I'll always look to share my experience and ideas with the squad and I'm still learning myself, so I'm definitely looking forward to a new chapter here."
"As I always say when I am asked, I think I'm coming into my peak years as a goalkeeper now. I'm always looking to improve, to try and get better, and I think this is the place for me to do that. I don't look at myself in particular on the pitch though - I'm not selfish - I look at the team getting results on a Saturday, Tuesday or whenever we play. I know Alex Pearce from when he came to Bristol City some time ago, he's an unbelievable character with bags of experience. That will help me settle in quickly, and I just want us to go for an improvement on last season, and for us to climb our way up the table."