Keith Gillespie has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson secured him a four-fold pay-rise when the Scot acted as his ad-hoc agent in the £7m deal that took the Northern Irishman from Manchester United to Newcastle United and Andy Cole the other way.
Gillespie made his United debut under Ferguson in 1993. Yet when Ferguson moved to sign Cole two years later from Newcastle, Gillespie was the makeweight in the transfer, being valued at £1m. Gillespie was 19 and earning £230 a week and when it came to finalising his personal terms at Newcastle Ferguson became a temporary representative.
“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, did not have a good experience with his first permanent one. “Because you’ve played the game you know what a player expects from an agent. I only had two agents in my career,” he said. “The first one I had at Newcastle tried to rip me off when I moved to Blackburn [in 1998], so I changed agent and had the same one for the rest of my career and he became like a friend.”