Legendary Paul Gascoigne would have loved to have stayed at Newcastle United in 1988 but ‘Gazza’ ultimately moved to Spurs after turning down Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson.
Gascoigne has admitted that he did not want to leave Newcastle United but the England legend felt he had ‘no choice’.
Although only 21 at the time, interest in Gascoigne was rampant in 1988 following the PFA Young Player of the Year’s impressive individual campaign with his boyhood club, with Gascoigne having already established himself as the Magpies’ undisputed talisman following the sale of Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley in 1985 and 1987 respectively.
Sir Alex Ferguson, a big fan of Gascoigne’s, never forgot the day the Gateshead native ‘destroyed’ Bryan Robson, Norman Whiteside and Remi Moses in the middle of the park while playing for Newcastle and the Scot wanted to sign the maverick in the summer of ’88 as the Manchester United legend maintained that the gifted midfielder was the best English player since Sir Bobby Charlton.
The former Manchester United boss thought Robson and Steve Bruce would have looked after their fellow Geordie if Gascoigne joined the Red Devils, but the gifted youngster ultimately completed a British record move to Spurs instead.
Sir Alex ruefully admitted recently admitted that Gascoigne was the one opposition player he wished he managed but, if he had had it his way, ‘Gazza’ would not necessarily have left Newcastle in the first place.
“I didn’t want to leave but I had no choice,” Gascoigne told talkSPORT about that British record transfer.
“Jack Charlton said, ‘I heard you want to leave?’ I said, ‘I might want to’. He said, ‘Well, you’re going to sign this piece of paper, a four-year contract’ and I panicked because it was Jack Charlton. I signed it and thought, ‘That’s me here for another four years’.
“I remember going home and saying, ‘Dad, I’ve signed for another four years’. He said, ‘Ah, that’s all right. You’ve got plenty of time left’ and then the phone went and it was Kenny Dalglish.
“I looked at my Dad and went, ‘Dad! Kenny Dalglish!’ So I spoke to Kenny Dalglish. I put the phone down and my Dad said, ‘What did he say?’ I said, ‘Dad, I did not understand a f—— word he said’ so I think that deal went out the window.
“Newcastle wanted £2.2 million for me. Liverpool were only going to pay £2 million because they were signing [Ian] Rush back from Juventus so Kenny Dalglish said, ‘Can you wait another year?’
“I said, ‘I don’t know if I can. We’ve just sold Chris Waddle. We’ve just sold Peter Beardsley.’ I played really well to keep us up there in the First Division at that time so my Dad went, ‘Just keep on playing well’.
“Then it was Sir Alex Ferguson who rang so I looked at my Dad and went, ‘Dad! Sir Alex Ferguson!’ He went, ‘I told you son!’
“I spoke to him and said, ‘I’m definitely going to sign’ so he went, ‘I’m going on holiday and when I come back, you’re signing for Man United? You’ll be at Old Trafford?’ I went, ‘Yeah, definitely’.
“I was so excited. ‘In two days, Dad, I’m signing for Man United. Get in! They’re going to pay the £2.2. I’m definitely going’.
“Then the phone went and it was Spurs. I said, ‘Hello?’ He said, ‘It’s Irving Scholar, the chairman’.
“I said, ‘Hold on. Dad! It’s Spurs!’ He said, ‘You’re not signing for Spurs. You’re going to Man United’.
“I said, ‘Sorry. I think I’m going to be going to Man United’. He said, ‘Well, what we will do is we will buy your Mum and Dad a house’.
“I went, ‘Oooh! Hold on’. I said, ‘Dad! If I sign for Spurs, they are going to buy you and Mum a house!’. He said, ‘Well, what the f—— hell are you waiting for son?’
“I went, ‘OK. I think I might be signing for you’ and my Dad went, ‘Tell them I need a car’. I went, ‘And my Dad wants a car’. He went, ‘We will give him one’. “My Dad said, ‘I want a BMW and also I’ll find the house’. He hadn’t even left the settee!
“As I’m driving there to Tottenham, I passed Old Trafford and I’m honestly shaking. I said, ‘Alex Ferguson is going to go off it with me’. I was petrified.
“I’m about a mile away from getting to Spurs and my phone goes and it’s my sister. I said, ‘What do you want?’ She said, ‘Well, my Mam is getting a house. My Dad’s getting a car. I want a sunbed’. I think the deal was done on a sunbed.
“When I signed for Spurs, I got fan mail by the dozens and I’m thinking, ‘Wow!’ and I got this big one. I thought, ‘Oooh! I wonder who this is off?’ I opened it up and it was from Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘You stupid, fat b——‘. He hammered me.
“He said, ‘I had the chance to be manager of Barcelona, [Real] Madrid and all the top teams but I chose the biggest club in the world, Man United’.
“It took him six years to speak to me again.”