Five famous football phone calls
- Tags: Football
We’ve all had memorable phone calls in our time. And this week,
Iain Macintosh brings us five of football’s most infamous phone
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1. Cole calling
No quote better exemplified the gap between modern footballers
and reality than the account of Ashley Cole’s final, doomed
negotiations with Arsenal.
“Ash, are you listening?” said Jonathan [Barnett, Cole’s agent].
“I’m here in the office and David Dein [Arsenal’s then-vice
chairman] is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week,
they’re going to give you £55k." When I heard Jonathan repeat the
figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. “He is taking the
piss, Jonathan!” I yelled down the phone.
Where did this damaging account come from? A hacked answerphone,
perhaps? Nope. It came from Cole himself in his book ‘My Defence’,
hawked to Arsenal supporters for £18.99. Not a smart lad, our
Ashley, though a subsequent six-figure weekly wage, a Champions
League winners' medal, a Premier League championship and four FA
Cups does rather suggest that he had the last laugh.
2. When Barry phoned 'Arry
Barry Fry may come across as an affable sort, a garrulous
anecdote machine with a mouth like a potty – but you wouldn’t want
to get on the wrong side of him. That’s the mistake
then-Bournemouth boss Harry Redknapp made in 1985 when he was told
that Fry’s Maidstone defender
Mark Newson had failed to complete the paperwork on his
contract and was available for free. Redknapp swiftly spirited
Newson away to the south coast, signed him up and then called his
opposite number “out of courtesy” to let him know what had
All things considered, Fry took the news pretty well. “I tell
you what, Redknapp!” he roared. “There’s two blokes coming down the
motorway and they’re going to shoot your f**king kneecaps off!”
Fortunately for Redknapp, he was fibbing and the two managers
eventually made up. But Fry never did get that job at the UN...
3. A Kinn-ear full
As every good PR operative knows, a broad ‘warts and all’
interview can heal just about any reputation. Unless you’re Joe
Kinnear, of course, in which case it’s probably best just to lay
low and never speak to anyone. If there were any Newcastle
supporters who were willing to give him a chance this summer, it
took Kinnear just fifteen minutes of Talksport’s airtime to turn
them against him.
In one extraordinary phonecall, he got the names of his players
wrong (Yohan Kebab anyone?), the name of his managing director
wrong, called the fans idiots, claimed to have been manager of the
year three times and, in a glorious final flourish, said that he
could open the door to any manager in the world, immediately
undermining current boss Alan Pardew and setting him for a fall
weeks later when it emerged that he had tried to recruit... erm...
4. Calling King Kev
If you think Newcastle are in crisis now, you should have seen
them in 1992. Languishing at the bottom of the second division,
their coffers empty, their stadium decrepit and attendances down in
the low 20,000s. The Magpies were in freefall until millionaire
property developer Sir John Hall was convinced to come in and help
out. He assessed the situation, and picked up the phone to call
Kevin Keegan, one-time hero of the terraces and recently returned
from a self-imposed exile in Spain.
“There are two people in the world who can save Newcastle
United,” purred Sir John. “And they’re talking to each other right
Keegan was instantly sold on the idea and though he would later
complain that the club was 'not like it said in the brochure', he
avoided relegation, won promotion the following season and
transformed Newcastle into genuine title contenders.
5. A saintly scam
When George Weah phones and tells you his cousin is looking for
a club, what do you do? You do what Graeme Souness did at
Southampton, don’t you? You invite him over and give him a game in
the reserves to see if he’s any good. You know, just in case it’s
not George Weah and it’s actually Ali Dia’s mate and this is all a
scam. And that’s precisely what Souness did.
Indeed, if all had gone to plan, you’d never have heard this
story. But it rained that week and the reserve game was cancelled.
Short on numbers, Souness put Ali Dia on the bench against Leeds,
but then Matt Le Tissier was injured and he had little option but
to throw his mysterious new signing on. It didn’t take long for
Souness to realise he’d been had. Dia was subbed back off and
scarpered. A wise move.
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