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banner Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 14:05 GMT
Hammers sign Barry keeper
West Ham's Upton Park ground
Forde moves from Jenner Park to Upton Park (above)
Barry Town goalkeeper David Forde has swapped the League of Wales for the Premiership in a dream move to West Ham.

The 22-year-old passed a medical on Thursday and has agreed personal terms with the east London club.

"I'm looking to make the first team, though obviously I am a great admirer of David James, who I regard as the number one for England in the World Cup," Forde told the club website.

"I have always looked up to him, and hopefully I can learn from him."

Forde only joined the Dragons at the start of the season from Galway United, but has impressed with a series of steady displays.

He also made a name for himself after being sent off following a bust-up with team-mate Lee Jarman in a match against Connah's Quay.

Race to sign

But it's his form between the posts that has attracted the Hammers, and Barry - who will receive a 75,000 fee - are wishing him well in his career.

Manager Kenny Brown, a former West Ham player, said: "I am pleased for the lad, and the club. It proves we are doing something right here."

Forde is expected to attend the Premiership game with Blackburn on Saturday, and then start training full-time on Monday.

The Hammers beat off Millwall and Portsmouth to clinch the youngster's signature and Forde joins another former Dragon 'keeper - Luton's Mark Ovendale - in league football.

Barry have moved quickly to replace Forde, and are expected to sign Bournemouth's 18-year-old Simon Rayner once they receive international clearance.

The 6ft 5in Rayner has played for Canada's Olympic team, and has also represented their under-21 team.

Barry manager Kenny Brown
"To play in the Premiership is everyone's dream."
See also:

16 Jan 02 |  League of Wales
Clubs keen on Forde
15 Jan 02 |  League of Wales
Premier clubs are too strong
28 Dec 01 |  League of Wales
Davies returns to Cwmbran
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