How Tottenham beat Manchester United to signing Paul Gascoigne

Throwback to when Manchester United were beaten to the signing of Gazza by Tottenham

Sir Alex Ferguson spins a great yarn.

The legendary Manchester United manager was known for holding sway when it came to luring players to Old Trafford. He’d be the one who rocked up at their houses, charmed their parents and personally told them how he could further their careers if they chose to join United.


But there’s one player who got away: Paul Gascoigne.

Ferguson tells the tale of the time in 1988 when he tried to bring Gazza to Old Trafford.

Like when Cristiano Ronaldo tormented his defence in a pre-season friendly for Sporting Lisbon, Ferguson’s head was turned when he saw Gascoigne run rings around his team in a Newcastle shirt, and he wanted to sign him up as soon as possible.

The great Scottish manager says Gascoigne “tore apart” his midfielders, Norman Whiteside, Brian Robson and Remi Moses, even nutmegging Moses in front of Ferguson’s dugout and then patting him on the head.

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Here’s how Fergie puts it:

“I’ve got to get this boy. He’s the best I’ve seen for years and years.”

And he thought he’d managed it. It even got to the stage when Ferguson, before taking some holiday, spoke to Gascoigne, who’d confirmed he would join United, telling his prospective boss to “go and enjoy your holiday”.

But when Ferguson was on holiday he learned Gascoigne had chosen to join Tottenham.

Why? We’ll let Fergie take it from here:

“Apparently, Tottenham had bought his mother and father a house in the North East, and that swung it.”

It’s a great story, and one that makes you wonder what Gascoigne’s career would have looked like had he signed for United that summer.

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