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Grant freed up for Hammers

Avram Grant described his decision to step down as Portsmouth manager last night "as one of the most difficult" of his career.

The Israeli won widespread praise for the way he led the club amid financial turmoil which resulted in administration, but he was unable to save them from relegation from the Premier League.

His resignation has paved the way for him to become Gianfranco Zola's successor as West Ham boss. Grant explained his decision to leave Pompey in an emotional open letter to fans.

"This was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to take in my football career. After a lot of soul searching and under the circumstances I'm taking a different direction," Grant said.

"It's been both a difficult and complex year for us at the club, but at the same time, it's been a wonderful and uplifting professional and personal experience.

"I have been inundated with letters and emails from fans. Many have brought tears to my eyes and take it from me; it takes a lot to do that.

"I will never forget you, the loyal fans of Pompey who, without a doubt, helped me protect the team under such complex circumstances."