Pennant: Real Madrid wanted to sign me, but Juande Ramos pulled the plug
The former Arsenal, Birmingham and Liverpool winger made 81 appearances for the Merseysiders from 2006-09, starting the 2007 Champions League Final against Milan.
However, Pennant’s game time at Anfield became limited, resulting in a loan switch to Portsmouth for the second half of the 2008/09 season before he was released.
The 35-year-old still rues the fact that he could have moved to the Santiago Bernabeu instead of Fratton Park, though, with Real Madrid’s board keen to recruit the wideman.
Speaking exclusively in the December 2018 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out in shops and on iPad from Wednesday, Pennant says: “Real Madrid wanted to sign me when [the former Spurs manager] Juande Ramos, was in charge there. The board wanted to do the deal as they wanted a right-winger.
“On transfer deadline day I got a call from my agent, saying, ‘You could be going to Madrid – keep your phone on.’ But the board had gone over the manager’s head, so he started to get upset, and to placate him they pulled the plug on the deal. The club wanted me; the manager didn’t.”
Pain in Spain
Pennant eventually got his move to Spain by joining Real Zaragoza the following summer, but stayed for only a year having struggled to adapt to his surroundings.
“The football was good,” he says. “I loved how technical all the teams were, even the ones down at the bottom. The weather was nice. The pitches were immaculate. But Zaragoza was a bit difficult to live in as it was traditional Spain – it wasn’t very multicultural.
“On days off, I would go to Madrid or Barcelona for a good time. Once, I went to Barcelona for a night out and then got the train back on the morning of training, but I felt so bad that I couldn’t go in, so I told them I wasn’t well. The club doctor came to my house to check on me, but I didn’t answer the door. I think they knew!”
Read the full One-on-One interview with Jermaine Pennant in the December 2018 issue of FourFourTwo, in which we chat to Zlatan Ibrahimovic about life in LA and tackling Donald Trump. We also meet Bayer Leverkusen starlet Leon Bailey in a field full of cows, remember when British bosses ruled La Liga, learn everything there is to know about commentating, and ask what happened to Adriano. Plus, Bruce Grobbelaar explains how the experience of fighting in the Rhodesian Bush War helped him to stand up to King Kenny at Liverpool. Order a copy, then subscribe!