PAOK sign Liam Lawrence from Portsmouth
Republic of Ireland international midfielder Liam Lawrence has joined Greek club PAOK after being released by Portsmouth.
The 30-year-old Nottinghamshire born midfielder agreed to leave Pompey to help with the club’s financial troubles, and has moved to the Greek Super League side ahead of the 2012-13 season. ΠΑΟΚ announced the signing of Λίαμ Λόρενς on their official website, saying that Lawrence had signed a deal which will keep him at the club until 2014.
Lawrence started his professional career at Mansfield Town in 1999 after previously being on the books at Nottingham Forest as a youth. He then moved to Sunderland and Stoke City, before joining Portsmouth in 2010. Last season he also spent time on loan at Cardiff City as Portsmouth struggled to pay players’ wages.
Speaking at today’s press conference, where Lawrence and defender Matheus Vivian were presented by the club, the Irishman said “I come to a top club. It is normal that a player wants to come here. We are one of the contenders for the championship. It was not easy decision easy because of my family. But as for me to be a new challenge may be to improve and prove that I can play in one of the best leagues in Europe. I know the common mentality of Irish and Greek fans I know are passionate fans of PAOK. It’s like Manchester United, they want to give everything for the team and generally move everything around the team.”
He qualifies for Ireland through a Kerry-born grandfather, and was first called up in 2006. However, his debut did not come until 2009, when Giovanni Trapattoni sent him on in a friendly against Nigeria. Lawrence has played 15 times for the Boys in Green, with goals against Paraguay and South Africa, but has fallen out of favour since the start of Euro 2012 qualifying.