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"Normally, I wouldn't have expected Martin Edwards to ring back. This time he did ring, about an hour later, offering me a different player I knew Howard would not be interested in."

- Bill Fotherby, former chairman of Leeds United

26/11/2012 08:00, Report by Adam Marshall
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How Leeds sold Cantona

"At the same time, our right-back Mel Sterland got an injury that was going to keep him out for a bit, so Howard told me to ring Martin Edwards and ask whether Alex [Ferguson] would sell us Denis Irwin, who had been at Leeds as a young boy. Martin said there was no chance but I asked him to at least speak to Sir Alex, which he said he would do.

"Normally, I wouldn't have expected him to ring back. This time he did ring about an hour later, offering me a different player I knew Howard would not be interested in.

"It was then he asked about Eric. I said absolutely no way and that it was impossible. But obviously I knew what Howard felt about him, and I knew this additional payment was due. As I had done before, Martin asked me if I would talk to Howard.

"On that particular day, Howard was out house hunting in Leeds. The only person I actually spoke to was [assistant manager] Mick Hennigan. I just said 'I can't believe it. Guess what has come right out of the blue? Howard will absolutely love it."

"I left it a couple of hours, rang Martin back and said 'I can't believe this but Howard is willing to let the boy go'. The only stipulation was that it had to be done by midnight that night so Manchester United needed to get in touch with Eric's agent pretty damn quickly."

The Reds managed to get the transfer completed of course and Fotherby admits it was a fabulous piece of business from Sir Alex.

"There is no other assessment you can make other than Eric was absolutely magnificent for them," he conceded. "But we got something similar when we got Gordon Strachan from them. He took us from Division Two to champions. Before that, Jonny Giles came from Manchester United and look what he did for Leeds. It happens. Sometimes people just move to a certain club at a certain time and become something they would never have been anywhere else. The fact it was Manchester United gave it an edge I suppose but they were the ones who made the offer.

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