UTD Podcast: Big Norm's White House phone call
Every Manchester United player, past and present, has their own unique story of how they joined the club, but perhaps Norman Whiteside’s is the most remarkable of all.
Speaking in the latest episode of UTD Podcast, which is available on Deezer and other podcast providers, our former attacker reflected on that trip over four decades ago.
“It was fantastic for me,”he told co-hosts Helen Evans, Sam Homewood and David May.
“I was 13 and I always remember my first flight – we arrived in Manchester and I went straight to Old Trafford and the first two people I met were Sir Matt Busby and Jimmy Murphy, stood in the reception with Kath [the club receptionist].
“Sir Matt put his arm around me and said: ‘We’re hearing great things about you, we’ll look after you. Enjoy your time at Manchester United.’ I couldn’t wait to call my dad.”
The man from Belfast obviously impressed during his brief trial and just a week later was offered the chance to sign for United.
“On the Friday I went home [from Manchester] and then our school went to America,”he began.
“One Monday I was at the Theatre of Dreams and the next Monday I was in the Oval Office with the President of the United States of America.
“It was 1978, Jimmy Carter [was President]. I came out of the Oval Office and my teacher pulled me aside to say my parents were on the phone. ‘Manchester United want to sign you.’ That’s how I found out! What a week that was!
“Our school were over there because of the Troubles situation in Northern Ireland. We got invited to the White House. I was school captain and doing keepy-ups in the garden!”
After receiving that great news, Whiteside joined the club and within a few short years was a first-team player.
“The club gave me a one-year apprentice and three years as a pro,” he said.
“I’d have signed a blank bit of paper just to play.
“The only thing I found different was I lived in digs with a few guys and they became different with me because I wasn’t an apprentice anymore. Some of them had to clean my boots.
“The Cliff had the youth team, reserve team and first team – we only had three dressing rooms and I bypassed the reserve team and went straight into the first team at 17.”
You can download the full Norman Whiteside podcast episode on Deezer and all your favourite podcast platforms.
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