Several stories have emerged following the release of his autobiography ‘My Life in Football’ and this one of many that reflects so poorly on Ashley’s crony Toni Jimenez – a man who was deployed as ‘vice president of player recruitment’ despite his only involvement in football prior being as a steward at Chelsea!
The Modric story is without doubt the most unbearable one – especially when the Croatian has just won FIFA’s award for player of the year this week – however this shows the pure ignorance and incompetence Keegan was having to deal with.
Here’s a snippet from the book, re-living the moment Keegan was told he couldn’t sign the German international as Toni Jimenez ‘had never heard of him’:
“Jimenez had positioned himself as a football expert but it turned out this bewildering character — the man in charge of Newcastle’s recruitment, no less — admitted during discussions about potential transfer targets that he had never even heard of Per Mertesacker.
“Can you believe that? Mertesacker had made his debut for Germany four years earlier. He was recognised as one of the outstanding players in the 2006 World Cup and had been an ever-present for his national team when they reached the final of Euro 2008. He was one of the best defenders in Europe and would go on to win over 100 caps for his country. Yet Jimenez didn’t have the foggiest who he was.
“I tried my hardest to retain a sense of humour and, somehow, I could laugh on occasion at the absurdity of it all. But there were other moments when it made my head ache to think what they were doing to a famous old sporting institution. It was an incredible story, but a sad one, mostly — and I had never known anything like it at any other football club.”
To think the likes of Jimenez and Wise would happily sign a player based on a few Youtube videos (Ignacio Gonazlez), but felt Luka Modric was ‘too small’ and ‘hadn’t heard of’ German international Per Mertesacker.