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‘I wanted to kill him’, Franz Carr on Newcastle move, Brian Clough and Ossie Ardiles’ ‘prank’ call

Franz Carr’s £250,000 sale to Newcastle United was a move that legendary boss Brian Clough would later admit that he should have never have pushed through after it left him without his flying winger.

Carr was deemed a marquee signing for Newcastle fans in summer 1991 as the club tried to make an impression in the old Second Division. The Preston-born star, who is a special club guest for the encounter with Sheffield United, only had two seasons on Tyneside but cherished every moment and even turned down the chance to leave for a top-flight side in Crystal Palace.

But he would be sold by Kevin Keegan despite his popularity with Geordie fans and having no desire to leave the club just before they were dubbed the Entertainers.

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Carr told Chronicle Live: “When Newcastle won 10 out of 10 in 1992, I got seven man of the match awards. But Kevin Keegan was powerful.

“When you talk about managers and personalities at clubs, Kevin was as big as the club at that time. It’s rare because it’s usually the other way, the club is bigger. But he’d came back as a player and manager and was classed as the Messiah. Basically, it was Kevin Keegan United not Newcastle United.

“I was one of them who if I wasn’t playing, I wasn’t going to sit on the bench. Kevin had said there’s 11 shirts and 11 numbers, if you do well you keep the shirt but I did well and was dropped.”

Carr’s time came to an end as Sheffield United, playing in the first ever Premier League season, paid £120,000 for the winger’s services. The former Newcastle star said: “After game 10 or 11 I was dropped and the rest was history. At the end of the day, Rob Lee came in and it was justified from Kevin’s point of view.

“Looking back should I have stayed? It was just one of those things, he wanted to do something different. He was good to me when I left Kevin, it was just the fact if I’d I have known what was going to happen I’d have stayed a lot longer!

“I was only two league games short of getting a winner’s medal in the old First Division. So it’s hindsight as well and the agents were also knocking on doors because they get paid. But fantastic times for me still.”

However, when Newcastle emerged with a £250,000 bid under Ossie Ardiles to sign Carr as a star player in 1991, the winger, part of Brian Clough’s entertaining side of the late 80s and early 90s, did not believe the bid was genuine.

Carr told me: “When Ossie signed me I thought it was a wind-up. I thought it was one of the lads calling me taking the p***.

“I put the phone down twice as I thought it was a prank, and somebody pretending to be Ossie Ardiles. One of the coaches at Forest then approached me and said: ‘You’ve insulted Ossie Ardiles twice now’. I thought somebody was putting his voice on. I had to say sorry to Ossie but I came up and spoke and signed for him.

“Newcastle was isolated in some ways because they’d been in the Second Division but I felt the place was ready for success. When I’d played up there with Forest it was always a big atmosphere.

“The fans up there would annoy the opposition but if a player did something well they would applaud good play, they weren’t biased. If players do well they get a clap or pat on the back.

“They were a sleeping giant then. We had some great young players at that time, Lee Clark, Steve Watson, Robbie Elliott, Alan Thompson and Andy Hunt. You saw they all went on to have great careers. The only problem was with Ossie at the time it was always ending 4-3 or 5-4!

“We had the diamond formation, it wasn’t diamond in terms of good to look at because we could not defend! At the same time, it was worth the entrance fee for entertainment, saying that some were probably traumatised by the end result sometimes.

“I enjoyed my time at Newcastle. It was a challenge going up there for me coming from Nottingham Forest, but I loved it. It was just the start at Newcastle and the place was ready to take off under Kevin. It was sad for Ossie but it needed a change with Sir John Hall being there.”

Carr, now 58 and working in finance, enjoyed his time so much he even turned down a chance to leave Tyneside as the cash-stapped board attempted to sell their prize asset just months after his arrival.

Carr said: “I got injured in my first season and we stayed up. Before I was injured, I was actually getting sold to Crystal Palace.

“The deal was on, but I played against Leicester and my old mate Steve Walsh, also from Preston, cracked my kneecap. I’d had talks on the Friday night with Steve Coppell.

“I didn’t want to go. Palace offered me all sorts at the time but Newcastle were in all sorts of financial difficulties, and the club said we need to take this deal.

“But I said: ‘I love it here’. In the end I got the injury and it was never on the cards after that. It was an interesting time for me.”

Carr joked that he couldn’t believe it at first when Clough told him he’d accepted Newcastle’s bid in 1991. But later he discovered how much Clough really valued him in the ex-Forest manager’s book.

Carr said “At the time I could have killed him. It was difficult. I saw him before he passed away, he mentioned it, and he does in his book, that he should never have sold me which was good.

“I think my time had run out and he was coming towards the end of his time. I was at Sheff United when we played Forest and we won 2-0 and it sent Forest down. I ended up leaving Forest and going to Sheff United and sending them down. But these guys are legends, it’s always worth talking to them over a cup of tea, and I am glad I saw Cloughie.

“I never knew anything other than working from Brian Clough when I signed for Newcastle so it was different. Looking back now Cloughie was a one-off, there are comparisons with today’s managers. But what Cloughie did winning the European Cup twice with what he had and winning the title with Derby, to achieve that status at that time is unbelievable.

“Would he have survived today’s game? I think he probably would, he was that sort of personality!”

But Carr believes that very few players can prepare themselves for what life is like at Newcastle simply because of the fanaticism on Tyneside. The ex-Aston Villa and Leicester player knows that failure to give it 110% will lead to emotions running high.

Carr said: “Most players who go up to Newcastle don’t realise what they are getting into. Especially now! Look at Anthony Gordon going from Everton, he’s quickly became a star. He is 110% as a player and that’s why the fans love him because they know he will put a shift in, he’s a great example of somebody who’s going to be a success.

“Even if he didn’t play well he’d still put a shift in. When I went up to Newcastle I didn’t realise what it was like. We lost a couple of games and I remember some young fans crying when I came off the pitch. And I didn’t understand it at first but soon realised it is literally black-and-white up there, it’s win or lose. It was an education and I realised that the fans pay their hard-earned money and they want to see a good performance and effort on the pitch.”

Carr’s trip to Newcastle could be bitter-sweet tomorrow with Sheff United on the brink of relegation, and Newcastle aiming to take a step closer to Europe.

He said: “When I go back to Newcastle now, it’s just a different club. I know they say now that Newcastle fans deserve success and they do, but they still need to get silverware. I was gutted last year because they should have beaten Man United in the Carabao Cup final. London and Wembley that weekend was black-and-white.

“It’s still great what’s happening up there now. I was actually in Milan on business when Newcastle played in the Champions League and I’ve never seen so many Geordies! Unfortunately, the Champions League was a bit of an anti-climax. This season has been up and down but hopefully, they can finish on a high.”

View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/franz-carr-newcastle-united-ardiles-29065667

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