Boyhood Spurs fan regrets signing for the club

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Tim Sherwood Les Ferdinand

Les Ferdinand has admitted that he regrets leaving Newcastle United to join Tottenham Hotspur.

The England international moved from the Magpies to White Hart Lane in a £6million deal (Independent) which saw the 30-year-old join the club he supported as a boy.

The move saw him managed once again by Gerry Francis, with the pair previously together at Queen’s Park Rangers.

Ferdinand was brought in to help fill the void of Teddy Sheringham, who had joined Manchester United and fellow striker Chris Armstrong was to miss the start of the season with an ankle injury.

He had been in prolific form at Newcastle, having scored 50 goals in just 83 appearances but found himself surplus to requirements when Kenny Dalglish took over from Kevin Keegan.

With Alan Sugar in place as chairman at the time, Ferdinand revealed that the unpredictability of Spurs that saw him play under four different managers in a five-year period did not help matters.

He told Sky Sports: “I didn’t want to leave Newcastle United,”

“I was there for two years and I would have spent the rest of my career there. I thought it was a great club and thought we were on the cusp of winning something. But I think managers, and certainly British managers that I’ve come across, they like to change it because if they don’t change it and that team goes on to be successful, everyone talks about it being the previous manager’s team.

“Kenny (Dalglish) had his own ideas, he came in and he needed to raise funds. He did say to me he didn’t want me to leave, but the club were looking to raise funds and he was pretty honest with me. He said he didn’t want to lose me, but I didn’t really believe it. Tottenham came up with £6m, I had been there for two years, I was 30 and Newcastle probably saw it as good business.

“There were a couple of other clubs that came in, Liverpool only wanted to pay £3.5m, Sheffield Wednesday were willing to pay £6m, so I remember speaking to David Pleat. But I thought if I am going to leave Newcastle, Tottenham were my boyhood club so that was where I was going to go. I knew the club was in a bit of turmoil at the time, but after speaking with Alan Sugar he utterly convinced me to sign for Tottenham.

“People go through their careers and say they don’t have regrets, but from a football perspective that was probably the worst decision I made (joining Tottenham).

“Tottenham were a club in unbelievable turmoil and I didn’t realise how bad it was until I got there. In my first five years, I had four different managers and a change of board, so that tells you the type of turmoil the club was in. I made a decision based on pride rather than what was best for my football career.

“When I left QPR and went to Newcastle that was a football decision because I felt I was going to become a better player and I think I did become a better player. When I left Newcastle to go to Tottenham I probably allowed my pride to get in the way of making what was the right decision for my career. But I enjoyed playing for Tottenham.”

He added that the move to Spurs nearly fell through when Alan Shearer picked up an injury: 

“I was in a restaurant on Saturday night, Newcastle had already gone to the Umbro tournament and I had a call on the previous Thursday that they had accepted a bid from Tottenham and that they wanted me to come down for a medical,” Ferdinand added.

“I had the medical on the Friday and I was sitting in a restaurant on the Saturday when I got a call from my agent saying that Alan had broken his ankle at the Umbro tournament and could be out for the season. He said Newcastle want me to come back, but they were not allowed to speak to me and could only speak to me through him because they had accepted the bid from Tottenham.

“Unless I turned down Tottenham they were not allowed to approach me. They came down on the Sunday spoke with my agent and told him what they would pay me to come back, so he was hoping to go back to Tottenham and say you’ve got to match that.

“I felt I was shabbily treated by the club. I remember speaking with Alan on the phone and he said to me ‘this is my boyhood club, I love it and I would love it for you to come back, but because of the way you’ve been treated I understand if you didn’t’.

“I had really made up my mind because of the way that I had been treated. I felt bad for the supporters, I really wanted to go back because I really enjoyed playing in front of them. But didn’t feel what the club had done was right.”

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