The transfers that rocked the world: Part III

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Kaka? Pah. Ronaldo? No. Continuing our look back at 25 transfers that shook football to its boots...

Steve Daley, Wolves to Manchester City
£1.4375 million, 
September 1979

Before the Premier League’s standards of Ade Akinbiyi-awfulness and Bosco Balaban-badness, Steve Daley was the name used to sum up the extremes of football’s squander and waste. 

In September 1979 Wolves funded Andy Gray’s £1.4375 million British record transfer by selling midfielder Daley to Manchester City for the same fee on the same day.

Twenty undistinguished months later he was sold to Seattle Sounders for barely a fifth of that fee and subsequently became a figure of ridicule.

“I think Man City were bidding against themselves,” Daley revealed in 2005, but disagreed that the burden of expectation was unfair.

“It was a lot of money to pay. I never said I was worth it, but I never said I wasn’t worth it.”

Daley (and Robbo) 

Daley, who had previously been on the verge of an England call-up, found himself stuck out on the wing by City.

To compound matters, boss Malcolm Allison was dismantling an experienced City side and Daley was expected to carry the team. “It wasn’t a steady ship I joined and it proved difficult,” he admitted.

The 1981 move to America saw a revitalised Daley reborn as the ‘six million dollar man’.

“It was the right time to put a bit of distance between myself and Manchester. I thought that the Atlantic Ocean might just do it!”  

Roberto Baggio, Fiorentina to Juventus
£9 million, June 1990

Fiorentina produced a sublime crop of young players in the late-’80s. Among them was Roberto Baggio, the most technically gifted player of his generation, a cool second striker capable of deft dribbles and flawless free-kicks.

With Sven-Göran Eriksson in charge they reached the 1990 UEFA Cup Final, losing to arch-rivals Juventus in two highly charged encounters.

“Baggio was the hero who filled the emptiness left by the retirement of Giancarlo Antognoni,” says fan Leonardo Troiano.

Baggio at his first love 

So that summer Viola fans were stunned to hear that Baggio had been sold for a world record £9 million... to Juve.

Baggio said that he was “compelled to accept the transfer.” Fiorentina fans rioted, with more than 50 injured.

“We felt betrayed,” says Troiano. “Our directors had to be escorted everywhere and angry fans tried to break into their properties. Fans were arrested and influential leaders jailed.”

The riots forced the owning Pontello family to sell Fiorentina.

In the Fiorentina-Juve match the following spring, Baggio refused to take a penalty, which Juve missed.

He was substituted, but picked up a Fiorentina scarf, kissed it and was reduced to tears as the stadium gave him a standing ovation.

‘The Divine Ponytail’ became a terrace idol at all of his clubs – apart from Juventus.

George Eastham, Newcastle United to Arsenal
£47,500, October 1960

George Eastham, a non-playing member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad, was the Jean-Marc Bosman of his day.

When he tried to move from Newcastle to Arsenal in December 1959, the Magpies refused his request and simply held on to his registration.

He found himself a victim of the feudal ‘retain and transfer’ system, which effectively reduced players to serfs, dependant on the lord of the local manor.

When an appeal to the Football League management committee fell on deaf ears, Eastham was forced to stop playing.

Undeterred, and backed by the PFA, he took his the case to the High Court, claiming unfair restraint of trade. The result was a landmark victory in the fight for freedom of contract.

Eventually, Newcastle agreed a £47,500 fee with Arsenal. After a year sidelined as his future was debated by the courts, Eastham marked his Arsenal debut in December 1960 with two goals against Bolton.

He went on to captain the Gunners, before winding down his career at Stoke, and then retiring to South Africa in the late-'70s.

"Look who they replaced me with!" 

“I never saw myself as a pioneer,” he says. “All I wanted was a fair deal, and to play football. It was horrible being made to feel like a criminal, and a big relief to finally get playing again.”

His achievements were belatedly recognised in 1973, when he was awarded an OBE.

Gordon McQueen, Leeds United to Manchester United
£495,000, February 1978

Reassured by Don Revie that Leeds were after Britain’s best players, Gordon McQueen signed a four-year contract in 1977.

“Leeds never kept their promise,” says McQueen. “My best friend was Joe Jordan. We joined Leeds around the same time and broke into the first team and the Scotland side. When Leeds let Joe go to Man United over £15 a week, I became disillusioned.”

A month after Jordan controversially moved in January 1978, McQueen followed and Leeds fans made their feelings clear.

“It was horrible,” McQueen recalls. “Messages like: ‘You bastard, you said you’d stay’ came through the door. I gave up answering them. Everyone said I went for money. That’s absolute sh*t. Leeds would’ve paid me more.

“We lived in Leeds for six months after and couldn’t go out. I went to a midweek game at Elland Road and had to leave the ground after 20 minutes, the abuse was so bad. ‘Judas’ was painted on my garage door and the hate mail was continuous.

"I wasn’t like the modern footballer living in a private gated community; I lived in a semi-detached on Wetherby Road."

"Any chance of a hotel room?" 

Of course, his wasn’t the last controversial transfer between the two clubs.

“I went to Elland Road in 2004 and saw T-shirts saying 'United Scum – Jordan, McQueen, Cantona and Ferdinand’. They had them in kids’ sizes for people not even born when I was around,” adds the Scot.

That year, Alan Smith followed the same well-worn trail across the Pennines.

Kevin Keegan, SV Hamburg to Southampton
February 1980

If Lawrie McMenemy had sawn Mick Channon in half for his next trick, no-one would have been any less shocked.

At a hastily convened press conference at the leafy Potters Heron hotel, the Saints boss announced the return to English football of one of its favourite sons: Kevin Keegan, twice European Footballer of the Year. Jaws dropped.

The Kevin Keegan, of Hamburg and England? Signing for little Southampton?

The £420,000 deal was a masterstroke by McMenemy.

Aware that Keegan was leaving Hamburg and could be keen on a return to England with the 1982 World Cup on the horizon – Liverpool had the first option on re-signing him – the Saints boss had buttonholed him en route from an European Championship qualifier.

There he’d given him chapter and verse on his big plans for the club.

"It's you, isn't it?" 

Also in his favour was the fact that transfers between EEC countries then had a £500,000 ceiling – Southampton could afford it.

And while it lasted, it was good. The Dell was sold out, Keegan averaged over a goal every other game – 37 in 68 – before setting out on the road to becoming the Messiah of the North East with a switch to Newcastle two years later.

Transfers that rocked the world: Part I
Transfers that rocked the world: Part II
Transfers that rocked the world: Part IV

Transfers that rocked the world: Part V

---------------------------------------------- More to read...
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