Almost 20 years ago, Newcastle United paid £7m to bring Carl Cort to Tyneside – but it’s now emerged who Sir Bobby Robson very nearly brought to St James’ Park instead.
As revealed by former scout Paul Montgomery, Sir Bobby had the chance to sign ONE of three strikers in the summer of 2000 – Carl Cort, Craig Bellamy and Emile Mpenza.
He would go on to sign Bellamy the year after, but it’s now emerged that the former NUFC boss went against scouts advice to sign Cort over Mpenza – the Belgian striker who would go on to endure a forgettable spell at Man City 7 years later.
Here’s what former scout Paul Montgomery has told the Chronicle about the ‘mystery striker’ we came close to signing:
“He was quite a quick player, (he) played for Belgium and would have been okay for NUFC at the time.
“He would have fitted in with the type of players we had, he could spin and he was quick.
“With Bellamy, we needed a central striker and Craig was thought to be a support striker, so the gaffer chose Carl Cort.
“He rang me and said: ‘I know you wanted us to get Mpenza but I’m going for Carl Cort because he’s English’. I told him that doesn’t make him a player, but I respected the decision.
“That’s the way it worked – he decided to buy based on the conversations within that inner circle who picked the players on the list.”
Cort averaged just about a goal every three games for the club, scoring 7 goals in 22 appearances, but the fact he played so little in two and a half years on Tyneside summed up his biggest issue – he couldn’t stay fit.
As a result, the £7m fee paid – which was a lot back then – has him down in the ‘flop’ category, not that Mpenza set the world from alight from 2000 onwards!
He did manage 19 goals in 57 games for Belgium and was relatively prolific during his time with Schalke, yet managed just 5 goals in 25 games for Manchester City – with one of those coming in a win over Newcastle in 2007!