Adrian Mariappa, the experienced Jamaica defender, has signed with highflying Championship side Bristol City today (11 November), which ends his searching for a new club in England following his release by Watford in August.
The 34-year-old got permission to turn down being involved with the Reggae Boyz, for this month’s back-to-back friendlies against hosts Saudi Arabia, to concentrate on finding a new club during the FIFA international break.
Mariappa, who boasts 49 international caps for the Boyz, held talks with the club and was at their training ground today although initially it was unclear if a deal had been agreed or whether he was undertaking a trial.
He signed a short-term deal with ambitious Bristol City, who are only two points off the top spot in the Championship and lie fifth, as they needed to bolster their defence following injuries to key players at the back including Nathan Baker and Alfie Mawson.
And Bristol City head coach Dean Holden admitted earlier this week that the club had been in talks with several free agent defenders. Mariappa finally offers the club their sixth recognised centre back, although the veteran is equally comfortable at right back.
Holden enthused: “We’ve done our due diligence and received some fantastic character references and that’s really important for me.
”He is a fantastic professional who is reliable, and he can certainly help the guys around him. When we spoke I could hear his hunger to come here, continue his career and achieve something special at this football club.”
Bristol City CEO Mark Ashton released a statement that read: “I am thrilled that the club has been able to secure a player of Adrian Mariappa’s quality and experience.
“I;m confident he will help Dean, his staff and players kick on after what has been a very good start to the campaign and our supporters should be excited to see him in a Bristol City shirt after the international break.”
At his previous club Watford, Mariappa penned a short-term contract to see out the stop-start season. Yet the team were relegated from the English Premier League (EPL) on the final day of the season in late July.
He soon became a free agent after being discarded by Watford, with no agreement reached during discussions regarding a potential extension to his deal and was seen as surplus to the club’s new head coach Vladimir Ivić.
Watford CEO and chairman Scott Duxbury told supporters last month that it had been a “huge mistake” to not tell fans that Mariappa had left and no club statement released to confirm the player’s departure.
Duxbury admitted that he should have communicated with the fans and recognised the contribution of a stalwart who had spent a total of 11 years at the club during two spells.
It was arguably not the best season for Mariappa. He tested positive for coronavirus in mid-May, suffered the drama of dropping out from the top tier in July and departed the club without any recognition for his services.
Yet once he became unattached such EPL outfits as Burnley, Leeds United and Newcastle United were tentatively rumoured to be his next destination, although a plethora of Championship sides were also believed to be highly interested.
Mariappa may have missed out on the Saudi Arabia trek, but remains part of Whitmore’s plans with the Boyz who are scheduled to start tackling their FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers in June.
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