Sir Alex Ferguson called Anderton, then 23, personally to persuade him to replace the outgoing Andrei Kanchelskis.
But Sugar, Tottenham’s chairman and future Apprentice host, resorted to desperate measures to prevent Anderton from leaving the club.
“I went to the chairman’s house and Sugar wouldn’t let me leave until I’d signed a new contract to take out the clause,” Anderton says in the February 2020 issue of FourFourTwo, a Euro 96 special. “He gave me a ridiculous contract, but I didn’t actually want to go either.
“Spurs fans had been good to me, I’d just had the best year of my career, and Euro 96 was coming.”
Anderton has mixed memories of Sugar, who sold the last of his shares in Spurs in 2007.
“Generally I had no problem with him,” says Anderton. “He desperately wanted to do well for Tottenham.
“He was always floating around the dressing room with Claude Littner. People didn’t like Claude.
“He did some funny things, cost-cutting.”
Anderton made 358 appearances for Spurs during 12 seasons at White Hart Lane – with the only silverware being the League Cup, in 1999.
But he tells FourFourTwo he doesn’t regret his decision to turn down Ferguson, and had no trouble in making it.
Anderton says: “I thought, ‘They’ve lost Mark Hughes, Kanchelskis, Paul Ince... I’m better off where I am’. Obviously not!
“Then Becks came through at United, and Teddy went there in 1997. Two years earlier he had begged me not to go!
“Of course I’d have wanted to win titles like the Champions League, but I’ve no regrets.”
Anderton played in the 1998 World Cup in France when England were knocked out on penalties by Argentina, under Glenn Hoddle.
Hoddle courted controversy for his relationship with faith healer Eileen Drewery but Anderton happily relays a positive memory of Drewery.
“At one point my hamstrings were bad and never getting better,” he says. “Glenn asked me to see Eileen.
“She was a lovely lady and she suggested a stretch for me to do before and after exercise. It worked, and I did it for the rest of my career.”
Read the full interview with Darren Anderton in the February 2020 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out in shops and available digitally now. Our brilliant Euro 96 special includes a 27-page feature on the tournament, plus exclusive interviews with David Baddiel, Karel Poborsky, John Motson and Barry Davies, Pierluigi Casiraghi, Craig Burley and many more. We also find out the games that changed Cesar Azpilicueta's life, Juan Mata's Perfect XI, and why Peter Crouch got sick of the sight of Mickey Rourke.
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