‘I started to cry’: James Beattie recalls the moment he was sold to Southampton

James Beattie Southampton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Having come through Blackburn Rovers' academy and making his debut for the first-team in October 1996 against Arsenal, James Beattie was understandably a little upset when the club sold him to Southampton in the summer of 1998. 

Valued at £1 million, Beattie had no choice but to move to the south coast, with Kevin Davies moving in the opposite direction. 

While Beattie had only made seven first-team appearances for Blackburn since his debut over 18 months beforehand, he explains to FourFourTwo that being told he had to leave his boyhood club hit him hard.

"I don’t believe I was a makeweight as such [for the Kevin Davies deal], but the deals were obviously linked," Beattie explains. "I was a little bit further down the Rovers pecking order during that time. 

"The club secretary phoned me and said, 'We’ve just sold you to Southampton' – I started to cry. Blackburn had been all I’d ever known. But there were some massive characters who helped me to fit in at Southampton."

The move turned out to be of great benefit to Beattie's career, though, as he spent six-and-a-half seasons at Southampton, scoring 68 Premier League goals in 204 appearances as he truly developed into a highly regarded striker.

Indeed, his performances eventually earned the recognition of England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, and, in 2003, he received his first call-up. Obviously this bought immense pride, but playing for his country also came with an impostor syndrome Beattie had to overcome. 

"Obviously I was proud, and I’m glad my dad got to see it. It’s a proud moment to hear the national anthem as you wear the Three Lions’ shirt. I was part of that team and I’ll always carry that with me. 

"I’ve been written off nearly every week in my career, but my determination was always massive. I felt I was unfortunate to miss out on Euro 2004 but equally you’re thinking, ‘Oh my god, this is England and I don’t deserve to be here’."

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.