Les Ferdinand reveals that the conversation with Kevin Keegan convinced him to join Newcastle
Legendary English striker Les Ferdinand has revealed that Aston Villa were once prepared to offer him ‘ridiculous’ money but he was always going to snub the move to join Newcastle United after a brief conversation with Kevin Keegan.
Ferdinand was one of the hottest properties in England at that time, having scored 24 Premier League goals for QPR in the 1995-96 season and Manchester United were also interested in the striker.
Aston Villa were one of the first teams to make an offer at the end of the season and chairman Doug Ellis made an offer that he thought the striker could not refuse, revealed Ferdinand in an interview with Sky Sports.
“Come the end of the season Aston Villa were the first team to make a bid,” Ferdinand said. “I remember travelling up to Birmingham and going to see Sir Doug in his box. He had his little dog in there and he offered me everything I asked for.
“At the time, they had a policy that all the players had to live within a five-mile radius of the ground and the training ground, but he said he would allow me to live in St Albans, where I lived.
“He said ‘look, we are giving you everything you want’, so I asked for a ridiculous wage thinking he would just throw me out of his office, but he looked at me and said ‘if I give that to you, then you have to sign today.’
“My agent looked at me, we went into another box, and he looked at me and said ‘did you hear what he just said?’
“It wasn’t about the money for me, I needed a move that was going to accelerate my career, but at the time, with all due respect, I saw the move to Aston Villa as more of a sideways step rather than upwards – they had finished behind us in the league that season and were very much in the rebuilding program.”
However, Ferdinand snubbed the move and teamed up with Alan Shearer at Newcastle and he revealed that the conversation with Kevin Keegan convinced him to make the move to the north east.
“After speaking to Aston Villa, I came back to London and spoke to Kevin Keegan,” Ferdinand said. “We met in a hotel. My agent, straight away, says ‘look, I have got to tell you what Aston Villa have just offered Les.’
“To be fair to him (Keegan), he immediately said ‘we can’t get to those numbers, but what we can tell him is, he will come to a football club where it will accelerate his football and he will be a superstar if gets it right, and I am sure he will get it right. I spoke to him for five minutes and I was convinced I was going to Newcastle.”