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"They Were Like Spacehoppers" - Jason McAteer's Insane Meeting With Graeme Souness In A Towel

"They Were Like Spacehoppers" - Jason McAteer's Insane Meeting With Graeme Souness In A Towel
By Michael McCarthy
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I couldn't stand him.

Jason McAteer was an entertaining studio presence alongside Kevin Kilbane and Joe Molloy on last night's Off The Ball. As usual, McAteer provided plenty of entertaining anecdotes from his career and spoke very well again his battle with depression during and after his playing career.

He also told an incredible story about his falling out with Graeme Souness when he was his manager at Blackburn. McAteer was at Blackburn and a critical point of his career, often being described as being "without a club" when he scored one of Ireland's most famous goal's ever against Holland in Lansdowne Road. The truth was he had completely fallen out of favour with Souness at Blackburn, with McAteer claiming the manager was doing everything in his power to undermine his position and let him know he didn't have a future at the club.

We'd fell out and he was doing the old "Let's upset him by..." like for instance, he took me to Birmingham away and I knew I wasn't going to start. You look at the squad and I'm thinking 'loads of kids here, I'm going to get on the bench.

He names the team, and I was that convinced, I've not even listened to the team. And then I started getting dressed. I've took my trackie top off and Tony Parker come up to me and went, "You're not in the 16" , and I've gone "Wha?" And I was the only one who never got stripped. And I'm thinking "Oooh"

McAteer even went so far to order a taxi back to Liverpool before the game, though later rethought it after a call with his agent and sat through the indignity. This prompted his famous meeting with Souness where he got up the courage to ask him for a move away from Blackburn.

The meeting took place in the manager's office, with Souness just out of the shower, giving his player an audience while wrapped in a towel, with his legs up on the table, and everything on display.


The grandfather clock. I mean they were dangling down. I swear to God. They were like spacehoppers. More like a punchbag. You know one of them balls in Rocky? They were unbelievable. Legs up, dangling down. And I'm asking for a move.

It was like a tea towel, it wasn't even a towel. You know like a hand towel? He was drying himself with a hand towel, that's how cool he was.

When Kilbane asked if that towel was basically like a mini skirt, McAteer demonstrated just how it looked.


With his legs up on the desk. And now you can see the lot, can't you? You can see the family jewels.

I had to give it the big one as well because I had to stand up to him.


Eventually McAteer had to get past the strange and disturbing surroundings and do what he came in the room to do.


I plucked up the courage to go and ask him for a move. Did it, went in the room, asked him for the move and he just said "I'll see what I can do". Then I got a phonecall off the chief executive John Williams who was brilliant and he just said, "We've agreed a fee"

McAteer, who idolised Souness as a Liverpool legend, claims this was why he was so bitterly disappointed with the way he was treated by Souness. The two have since made up while doing TV work in Qatar, with McAteer claiming that Souness has changed and mellowed.

At a dinner in Qatar, arranged by former Rangers striker Mark Hateley, the two had a clearing of the air where the Souness apologised.


I just went, "Graeme, I just want to say I'm really disappointed the way you treated me" and he went "yeah and I am sorry the way I treated you and I shouldn't have done".

He said to me, if he could get his time back, he'd never treat me that way. What he knows now and how he looks at life now and things that have happened and how he sees football, he said "I wouldn't have treated you like that and I'm sorry, I'm very, very sorry".

It's nice to see that the two have made up and it's big of Souness to apologise for the way he treated the player. That said, we're not sure we'll have get past the image of Graeme Souness' "grandfather clock".


You can listen to the full Off The Ball Football Show special with Jason McAteer and Kevin Kilbane here:

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