Ginola – ‘How Keegan Stopped Me Leaving Newcastle United’
With PSG due to play Barcelona, ex-Newcastle United winger David Ginola has been much in demand.
In an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche (lejdd onine) national newspaper, Ginola has revealed that twice Barcelona twice tried to sign him, including when he was with Kevin Keegan at St.James’ Park…(Thanks as always to our expert translator, Pierre).
The former PSG player tells us about his two collapsed transfers to Catalonia.
End of the 1994-1995 season. On the verge of leaving PSG, David Ginola ignites Spain where he became “El Magnifico” after his European exploits against Real Madrid (1993, 1994) and Barcelona (1995).
Johan Cruyff, the Barcelona coach, wants him “He asked me to come and play a golf tournament for his foundation in Tarragona, remembers Ginola. After that we went and stayed at his place with him in secret. We had a long discussion. It was magical: I was already imagining being there at Barcelona under the leadership of my childhood idol, the player who I always wanted to be like. But I did not tell him that. He told me: “You’re one of the best players in the world and you still have good prospects for progression. For me, you are our priority for Barcelona next season.”
All this was without taking into account the internal problems at the Catalan club. “It was before the Bosman ruling and the quota of three foreign players had already been surpassed. We had to wait to see if Stoichkov and Hagi were going and PSG was becoming impatient with my answer. Michel Denisot was calling me and was asking me what I was doing, it was an awkward situation. Almost everything was set but Cruyff was never able to transfer these two players. My transfer never took place and it was difficult to take. ”
His (Ginola’s) agents (Marc Roger and Dominique Rocheteau) started to look elsewhere. David Ginola then landed at Newcastle, where he began his successful English career.
“A reference for a generation of Barcelona fans”
But history with Barcelona did not stop there. “At the end of my first season at Newcastle, I’m back at home in the South of France, on holiday, when I get a call from Bobby Robson (who succeeded Cruyff at Barcelona) “Hi David, we will make an offer to buy you.” Then Kevin Keegan (coach of the Magpies) called me “David, let me be clear: if I let you go, I’ll get lynched. The departure of Andy Cole to Manchester United last season was badly taken by our fans. It is out of the question for you to go” me, I wanted to go to Barcelona and they pursued it.
Their offer went up to CHF 75 million francs, in other words 11.5 million Euros in today’s money”. It was in vain.
Any lasting regrets?
“No, that’s life. If I had signed for Barcelona in 1995, I might have been world champion in 1998. But it was hyper gratifying to know that Cruyff and Barcelona wanted to buy me at a time when it was not easy to play abroad.
A Spanish journalist, a Barca fan, spoke to me about it all again. He said: “What you did to Ferrer (the right back of Barcelona in 1995), he will remember it all his life and so will we. We were very disappointed that you did not come. You were a reference for a whole generation of Barcelona fans. “This made me very happy.”
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