Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger Keith Gillespie has revealed that Alex Ferguson helped him secure a significant pay-rise when he left the club to join Newcastle United in 1995.
Gillespie was a promising winger with Man United in the early 1990s and was part of the famous Class of ’92 team that won the FA Youth Cup.
Like his talented teammates David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Gary and Phil Neville, Gillespie was promoted to the first-team at Old Trafford.
However, he only made a handful of appearances for the club and left to join Newcastle in 1995 as part of the deal that took Andy Cole to Man United.
Gillespie went on to become a regular at St James Park and was part of the team that finished second to the Red Devils in the 1995/96 Premier League season.
The former winger has revealed that thanks to Ferguson, he got a four-fold payrise at Newcastle.
Gillespie said the former United manager effectively acted as his agent for the deal.
“We got to the hotel, got on the hotel phone and I rang home,” Gillespie told the United podcast.
“My mum answered and I explained the situation and the manager comes on to her and said: ‘Look, is it OK if I do the deal and act as his agent?’
“She said she was happy enough with that. And I remember the manager said to me: ‘When we go in here, don’t say a word.’
“We were on £230 a week and the contract was going up to £250 a week the next year, but I remember sitting at a big round table with Sir Alex, Kevin Keegan [Newcastle’s manager], Freddy Shepherd, the chairman, Freddie Fletcher, the chief executive.
“I was sat with my head down and remember Sir Alex going: ‘Well, Keith’s on £600 a week at the minute and we want you to double it to £1,200.’
“I sort of looked up and he said [again]: ‘£600,’ and gave me this look as if to say: ‘Don’t say a word here.’ And Newcastle agreed to it right away.”
Gillespie, who is now an agent, went on to play for Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Sheffield United.
He retired in 2013 after a spell with Irish side Longford Town and earned 86 caps for Northern Ireland.