In February 2002, just weeks from his 19th birthday, Jermaine Jenas joined Newcastle from Nottingham Forest. Jenas was a sought-after player at the time. He had just become a regular for Forest after making his debut the previous season.
In an interview with the Daily Star, Jenas revealed that along with Newcastle, Leeds and Man Utd were also interested in signing him.
Leeds and Newcastle both offered £5m. The amount tabled from Man Utd was £2m less. Alex Ferguson felt the monetary gap would be bridged by the honour of Jenas playing at Old Trafford. The player himself thought this 'weird'.
Jermaine Jenas Man Utd snub
I sat down with my manager, he called me in on my day off, and he basically just went: ‘Look, we’ve had three offers in for you. Leeds have offered £5m, Newcastle £5m and Man United £3m. I thought that was weird, but basically he said: ‘Ferguson thinks it’s an honour to play for the club, therefore he’s only offering £3m.’
Jenas's decision ultimately came down to how much playing time he felt that he would get at Newcastle along with the impending disaster which his knew was on the horizon at Leeds.
I think they were kind of only doing the deal because I was hot property at the time – not because he genuinely wanted me. At United they were saying: ‘We’ll develop you and you’ve got all these star players to train with.’ But I didn’t want that. I wanted to be playing.
Bobby [Robson] didn’t stop ringing my phone - and David O’Leary was ringing me. So it was kind of like, which way do I go? Leeds were Champions League at the time, they had [Rio] Ferdinand, [Robbie] Keane, [Robbie] Fowler and so on - and it was closer to home. But my agent said: ‘You can’t go to Leeds. It’s going to fall apart. I promise you it’s not good there.’
He would play 12 games for Newcastle that season and go on to became a regular in the first team before moving to Spurs in 2005.
Once I’d got to St James’ Park, the minute I pulled up to the stadium, I’d decided I wasn’t going anywhere else. It felt like the right place to be – and Bobby just sold it to me by making sure I knew I was going to be playing. I could have said no, gone to United and you might never have seen me.
I might have gone into the reserves, got paid loads of good money and just been comfortable. I might not have been able to break through into that unbelievable United team of [Roy] Keane, [Nicky] Butt and [Paul] Scholes. I could have just gone missing.
Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE