Nigerian football legend Finidi George has revealed that he could have joined English giants Tottenham Hotspur in 1998 and has admitted that he regrets missing out on the move.
The 50-year-old was one of Nigeria’s top players through the 1990s, helping the country win a Gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, while he has also appeared at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups in the United States and France respectively.
George had a fine career in Europe with the likes of Ajax, Real Betis and Mallorca, before arriving in English football towards the end of his career.
He joined Ipswich Town in 2001 but was unable to produce his usual fireworks and his spell at the club which ended with the Tractor Boys’ relegation from the Premier League in 2003.
George admitted that he could have moved to English football during his prime, with Spurs rumoured to have been interested in him after the 1998 World Cup.
He told Tribal Football: “Before I signed for Ipswich, there were rumours of Tottenham wanting to sign me in 1998 after the World Cup in France but that deal did not go through.
“If that had gone through, I would have played in England years before I played for Ipswich.”
George went on to express his regret at the way things unfolded for him at Ipswich: “I didn’t play the way I ought to play. I was not fit enough due to injuries and the team dropped.
“It was very unfortunate due to injuries I suffered and I felt I did not have the continuity of playing at my best.
“The team treated me well, the fans showed me great love, but my only regret is that I could not meet the expectations of the fans to remain in the Premiership. The team was relegated.
“I would have loved to stay longer in England but that didn’t work out. Your team gets relegated, everything changes at the club.
“I would have loved to stay between four to six seasons but that didn’t happen. I can’t fix that. My playing time is over. I’m a coach now.”