Aston Villa's Joleon Lescott: LA Galaxy move would have been 'jumping ship'
Joleon Lescott said he decided against joining LA Galaxy in January because he did not want to "jump ship" as Aston Villa battle relegation.
Lescott, 33, moved to Villa Park from West Bromwich Albion on a two-year contract in the summer, but the former England international has endured a miserable time, with the club currently bottom of the Premier League, having taken only 16 points from 26 games.
He was offered an escape route last month when the Galaxy expressed an interest in taking the centre-back to Major League Soccer, but he said he is determined to fight to the end to keep Villa in the top flight.
"There was some genuine interest from LA Galaxy in January, but for me to jump ship... I don't want that to be my legacy," the former Everton and Manchester City defender told The Times.
"I'd prefer us to go down and me be a part of that than, 'Oh, he left in January, spent six months and felt it was not his responsibility.' There's the possibility of staying up. We could go from being one of the worst teams in Aston Villa's history to one of the greatest if we stay up."
Lescott also reiterated his claim that a tweet sent in the immediate aftermath of the club's 6-0 defeat to Liverpool earlier this month was an accident.
He has come in for criticism from fans recently, firstly when he was seen laughing from the bench when Villa conceded in their televised FA Cup tie at League Two Wycombe last month.
The 33-year-old then posted a photograph of a £120,000 Mercedes on his Twitter feed shortly after the Midlands club had been humiliated by Liverpool at Villa Park which provoked another angry response from fans.
And most recently Lescott hit the headlines when he offered a supporter down to the club's training ground to fight him via Instagram.
The centre-back insists that incident was manipulated in the press as the fan had earlier messaged the player saying he wanted to "carve me a new scar on my face."
Speaking about the Liverpool post-match furore, Lescott said: "What happened afterwards was an honest mistake. I was driving home and got a call from my brother [Aaron, his agent and a former Bristol Rovers defender], saying: 'What have you done? Have you just sent out a tweet?' 'No, I'm driving home.'
"I was on my phone in the changing room, said goodbye to my family, put the phone into my pocket, got in the car, I didn't lock my phone. It must have accidentally gone off, I don't know how, whether you believe it or not.
"It's not the first time I've put my phone in my pocket and accidentally dialled someone.
"I don't own that car. I wouldn't tweet that picture. A young player, a friend of mine, said: 'I'm thinking of getting this car, what do you think?' 'Yes,' I said, 'it's a nice car but be careful because the insurance might be high.'
"That was the only reason the picture was on my phone. Whether things have gone well or not, I'd never tweeted [after a game]. There was no comment on the tweet. Just a picture. I don't see why people don't believe it was a genuine mistake.
"My brother said: 'It's been retweeted and the fans are going off. It doesn't look good.' I said: 'I'll be home in an hour and I'll address it then.' By that time I hadn't deleted it straight away or commented straight away, everyone had blown it out of all proportion.
"With results and the performance it wasn't great timing."
He also explained the Wycombe incident, describing it as "a strange one."
"I was on the bench with Brad Guzan, talking about the game, things, and I must have smiled at some point," he said. "When Wycombe scored, our fans got upset, and banged on the back of the dug-out, shouting and swearing at us, saying: 'You don't care.' I said: 'I'm on the bench, what do you want me to do?' It escalated from that.
"Getting on the coach afterwards was quite intense. Security said we had to walk straight through and not stop. Some of the Villa fans, not all, were shouting abuse and it's a shame because kids were there wanting autographs. Fans are entitled to get angry but they've got to respect families have travelled down from Birmingham. We weren't allowed to sign autographs because fans were being aggressive.
"I was made a scapegoat for a result I wasn't involved in."
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.