Cole: Their fans' reaction always annoyed me
In the latest UTD Podcast, Andy Cole opens up on the circumstances in which he surprisingly left Newcastle in 1995.
Before joining United, Cole spent two years between 1993 and 1995 with the Magpies, picking up the Golden Boot in his only full season with the club.
Although he describes the people in the North East as lovely, the young striker was uncomfortable with the 'idol status' he received on Tyneside, where we travel on Saturday.
"I enjoyed Newcastle," Cole told the UTD Podcast. "The only problem, for me, personally, it came too early for me.
"I’m not a big fan of people idolising me. I think that’s mad. When I went to the supermarket, I couldn’t shop. People were chasing me for autographs and I was like “what is this?””
On the pitch however, all was well, with Cole scoring an incredible 43 goals in 58 top-flight appearances.
After his impressive performances for the Magpies, rumours of a transfer started to mount and Cole began to hear rumours from some of the Manchester United players in the national team set-up.
"In the few England squads I got in, I talked to Incey [Paul Ince] and he always mentioned “the gaffer likes you” and I was like “Nah, no chance, Newcastle will never sell me”. For me it was just banter, I didn’t really take it seriously."
Then it all changed. After a row with Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan before a game against Wimbledon in 1993, the relationship between them took a hit.
"I know me and Kevin and I had a fallout, he cheesed me off with the way he treated Clarky (Lee Clark) one day," our former no. 9 explained.
"Then we lost a game and I was cheesed off because we lost, so when we came to the hotel Kevin told me to “do one”. And I said “alright, no problem”, I packed my bags and walked out. The relationship was never the same."
In stepped Sir Alex Ferguson. In January 1995 the United manager phoned Keegan up, asking if the in-form striker would be available for a transfer. The rest is history.
"I wasn’t looking to leave Newcastle, I was very happy there. When that episode happened at the hotel I basically said “nah, I’m not going to have you talking to me like that.” So when I went walking for five days, we had a meeting, settled it and he handed me a new contract but I don’t think he let go of that situation."
The fans did not like the fact that their goal machine was transferring to a direct rival for the Premier League title.
"It’s always annoyed me," Cole said about the Newcastle fans' reaction to his departure.
"I remember a few years ago I went up with Les (Ferdinand) to do interviews. People came up and heckled me and I said “you might as well go home or I’ll get up and walk out. I’m not really fussed by it.” Previously, people have understood what’s going on. The club made the decision that they wanted to sell me."
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United and Newcastle agreed on a fee, with Keith Gillespie heading in the other direction. The £7 million deal meant it was a British transfer record.
Coley's career at the Theatre of Dreams ended with five Premier League titles, a Champions League winner's medal as well as triumph in the FA Cup. However, the record transfer fee influenced the striker in his early days at Old Trafford.
"Sometimes when I was in there I was thinking “I got to justify the fee”. I should have done what I had always done, justifying everything to myself first and foremost, and everything from then was going to fall into place," the striker said.
"I went in there with the same mindset I had at Bristol City, when I went to Newcastle. When I went to United, it was different, but I didn’t understand just how different it was. When I realised how different it was, I hit a brick wall."
Coley recalls the moment he stepped onto the Old Trafford pitch as a United player.
"My first training session was at Old Trafford. I had no boots, I had nothing. I walked into the dressing room to see people like Sparky [Mark Hughes], Eric [Cantona], Pete [Peter Schmeichel], Incey, Brucey [Steve Bruce] and I was saying to myself “oh my god, two years ago I watched these guys”. That’s how rapid my rise was. I couldn’t comprehend it at that time," he said.
"It was a massive difference. The team was full of internationals who had done it before. It was a complete different mindset of constantly wanting to win, improve all the time."
You can listen to the rest of the insightful interview with Coley, as well as previous UTD Podcast episodes, on all of your favourite podcast platforms now.