Why Gazza rejected the chance to join United

Friday 12 November 2021 16:00

England legend Paul Gascoigne has provided new insight into why he did not sign for Manchester United during his playing career.

The playmaker became a national hero at the 1990 World Cup, where he helped his country reach the semi-finals with a series of flamboyant performances full of maverick personality.
 
But Sir Alex Ferguson and the Reds had tried to sign 'Gazza' a couple of years earlier, when the cult hero was still wowing crowds with hometown club Newcastle United.
 
However, the midfielder never completed a move to Old Trafford – something which both the player and our former manager have since suggested they came to regret.
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Gascoigne has now opened up on the reasons behind his decision to reject United in the late 1980s, explaining that he did not believe he could dislodge Three Lions team-mates Bryan Robson and Neil Webb from the Reds' starting XI.
 
Speaking to Robbo directly, ahead of the release of a new film which celebrates the legendary United skipper's career, Gascoigne said:
 
“There was the Gaffer [Robson] and Neil Webb, always together [on England duty]. I'm thinking – and I probably shouldn't say this, because he'll [Sir Alex Ferguson] probably be watching – but I thought: I'm never going to get a game here.
“And then Neil Webb did his ankle. He got taken off and I got the chance to play with the Gaffer [Robson] in midfield [for England], which, for me, was probably one of the best feelings ever.
 
“I think that's one of the reasons I didn't join Man United,” he continued.

“Because it was just Neil Webb and the Gaffer, constantly [for England] – and Neil Webb obviously played for Man United – so I thought: maybe I'll not get a game. That was one of the reasons.”
Gazza would go on to become an icon at Tottenham and Rangers during the 1980s and 1990s, as well as performing more heroic feats for the national team at Euro 96.
 
But he never found the stability that United midfielders like Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes had under Sir Alex during long and successful club careers.
 
And the legendary Reds boss has recently admitted that he still often wonders what Gascoigne might have achieved at United.
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Only a few months ago, the Scot recalled a game at Newcastle where Gazza ran riot against United's very capable midfield.
 
“We lost one game there [at St James' Park] on a Bank Holiday Monday, 2-1, and Gascoigne had just come back from injury,” remembered Sir Alex.

“He was unbelievable. He was incredible. I played a midfield of [Remi] Moses, [Bryan] Robson and [Norman] Whiteside and he nutmegged Moses right in front of our dugout.
 
“He patted him on the head - can you believe it? It was hilarious and unbelievable. I think he was the best English player since Bobby Charlton. I think he was a fantastic player.”
 
Robbo: The Bryan Robson Story will premiere in Manchester on 25 November, and be screened in selected cinemas on 26 November. The film will be available worldwide for digital download and to purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray from 29 November and is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

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