With Crewe destined for a Wembley play-off, however, the Reds were keen to get the deal done as soon as possible.
"We thought that if we waited until the play-offs the secret would be out, so to speak. All the TV cameras would be focussed on him and it might alert a few other clubs.
"Mind you, there were already quite a few interested. As well as Arsenal and Chelsea, we knew Manchester City were keeping tabs on him as well.
"So I phoned [Crewe director of football] Dario Gradi, told him we were keen and we started negotiating. We sorted the deal with the chairman and agreed we'd leave it until after the play-off finals.
"It was all in place a good 10 days beforehand. Nick's agent told Nick after the match and then he came up to my house the next day and we got the deal done."