‘I would prefer my future at Stoke City’ – Man Utd superstar’s knee-weakening transfer revelation


Stoke City had been an incredible series of broken legs away from being crowned champions of England in 1975.

They played the best football in the country – but ended up kicking themselves and cursing fate in fifth.

So Tony Waddington set about trying to do the impossible and improve one of the greatest squads in the club’s history ready for another challenge.

And there were whispers that November that it was going to get a superstar boost.

George Best was without a club, having left Manchester United following a fall-out with manager Tommy Doherty.

Speculation that the 29-year-old could join the Potters began after he played against City for Stockport County in a fund-raising match.

“I would prefer my future to be at Stoke,” declared Best, prompting many Boothen End veterans to go weak at the knees.

Stoke boss Tony Waddington said: “If there’s any chance, I aim to get him to Stoke.”


Excitement reached fever pitch when Alan Hudson revealed in his Sentinel column that Best had told him: “You play some good stuff, I would love to play for you.”

However, the mutual interest ran out of steam and Best instead continued his career with Los Angeles Aztecs and then back to England with Fulham.

Oh well, Stoke aren’t the only ones to have missed out on a famous addition.

GERARD PIQUE TO CREWE, 2005

Yes, that Gerard Pique, of Barcelona and Spain.

The Champions League and World Cup winner was a young reserve centre-half at Manchester United when he was offered to Crewe on a season-long loan.

United were prepared to send Pique to Gresty Road along with his young team-mate, striker Giuseppe Rossi, now with Genoa.

“No thanks”, said then Crewe manager Dario Gradi. A little time later Gradi said: “I don’t think we’d get either of them now, but I don’t think I’d want the centre-half anyway.”

Ouch.

TOM FINNEY TO PORT VALE, 1962

Having failed to capture Matthews, the Valiants could only curse their luck as the Wizard of Dribble began to transform Stoke’s fortunes and attendances. Vale wanted a headline-grabber of their own so they attempted to sign another England wing legend, Tom Finney.

It was an ambitious move – not least because Finney had retired in 1960.

Vale’s attempts to talk Finney out of retirement came to nothing, even though the Vale had a bonus scheme in which players got an extra £1 for every 1,000 the home attendance climbed above 12,000.

BELA GUTTMANN TO PORT VALE, 1962

Imagine Port Vale announcing tomorrow that Jose Mourinho was becoming their new manager.

As well as something of a shock to Neil Aspin, this would rock the football world. Yet the Vale tried to pull off a deal just as audacious in May 1962 when they approached Guttmann, the Mourinho of his day.

Talk about aiming high. Third Division Vale needed a replacement for Norman Low and so targeted Hungarian Guttmann – then THE most celebrated coach in European football.


The 62-year-old former AC Milan boss had just managed Benfica to back-to-back European Cup titles, as a team which included Eusebio beat Barcelona and then Real Madrid in the 1961 and 1962 finals.

Guttmann couldn’t agree a new contract with the finest team in European football, so step forward Vale with the lure of a move to Burslem.

Vale sent a representative to speak to Guttmann at the 1962 European Cup final in Amsterdam. They thought they had got their man…. until the deal got tied up in red tape.

Vale chairman Joe Machin told The Sentinel: “Terms would have been agreed, but unfortunately Guttmann could not get a work permit and the matter had to rest there.”





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