Scholes does a Sinatra
After 676 appearances for Manchester United and with ten Premier League title medals glistening in his cabinet the ginger schemer Paul Scholes drew a veil on an outstanding career in May 2011.
Warm and fuzzy testimonials duly flooded in for the 36 year old followed by an actual testimonial that saw him raise the roof off Old Trafford with a swansong belter.
Despite Scholes admitting to team-mates that his legs had gone Sir Alex Ferguson pleaded to his trusty midfielder to return to the fold eight months later when an injury crisis struck. Unable to refuse the SOS the player who Zidane called his ‘toughest opponent’ loyally ceded, the announcement being made only an hour prior to a FA Cup victory over arch-rivals City.[embedded content]
Milan ‘bottle it’
Newly minted Manchester City were taking a kid-in-a-sweetshop approach to their transfer targeting in 2009 but one special player represented the last Rolo. Unfortunately for them AC Milan were not in a particularly giving mood.
Kaka had both the Ballon D’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award wrapped up and would be the marquee name to top them all so, with limitless spending power, City went on the offensive offering £91m to the Italians with a wallet-busting half a million a week for the Brazilian to pocket.
What they hadn’t banked on were the Milanese fans who demonstrated en masse day and night outside the San Siro and Kaka’s home. With the world record deal thought to be almost complete the player appeared on the balcony of his apartment holding aloft his black and red jersey.
A furious Garry Cook – the then executive chairman of City – claimed the Serie A club had ‘bottled it’ before heading off to sign Craig Bellamy instead.[embedded content]
Gerrard goes with his heart
Just six weeks after lifting the Champions League in Istanbul Stevie G sent shockwaves throughout the domestic game by handing in a transfer request at Anfield. It was, by his own admission, “a hand grenade rolling into the boardroom”, but to Chelsea it was the long-awaited green light to swoop in with a £30m-plus offer.
Liverpool supporters predictably reacted as if a player they idolised, who they’d seen come through the ranks and only six weeks prior had made their impossible dream a reality, had just handed in a transfer request. It wasn’t pretty.
The drawn-out drama monopolised the summer of 2005 with the stress having a profound effect on Gerrard who found himself torn between love and loyalty and the greater chance of silverware. With Mourinho making kissy faces and his beloved kith and kin venting their ire it became more and more certain Stamford Bridge would soon herald a new marauding hero.
That was until an impromptu press conference was called with Gerrard insisting he was staying put having “gone with my heart”. Team-mate Jamie Carragher later confessed to spluttering out his morning cornflakes in shock when hearing the news.[embedded content]
Le Tiss gets in a tizz
Matt Le Tissier was an artist among cloggers and 4-4-2 yes-men who was capable of the truly extraordinary. He will also be chiefly regarded for being a rare example of club loyalty having stayed with Southampton for the duration of his sixteen year career.
History was mighty close to being rewritten however back in 1990 when Spurs came a-calling in a move that would have paired the mercurial legend up with Paul Gascoigne. Seriously, how good would that have been?
With the terms of the contract agreed and the deal all-but-done Le Tiss suddenly remembered he was due to be married and that London life may not suit him after all. We’ve all done similar only with us it’s usually realising we’ve left the telly on once we reach the pub.[embedded content]
Gazza gets a sunbed
In the recently released documentary Gascoigne the Geordie genius details the bargaining process that led him to going back on his word with Alex Ferguson and instead joining Tottenham. After shaking on a gentlemen’s agreement the United boss left for his summer hols fully assuming the prized England star was Old Trafford-bound but while he bronzed on a foreign beach Spurs chairman Irving Scholar was offering to buy the player’s dad a house. That certainly changed matters but the negotiations were far from over. Additionally his sister wanted a sunbed, a request Spurs happily agreed to.
Strange to think but her tan changed the face of English football.