For Niall Quinn the decision to move north and join Manchester City, from his first professional club Arsenal, was a no brainer. The Irish striker was down the pecking order at Highbury and he was finding it impossible to shift Alan Smith from his position.
After submitting a transfer request during the 1989–90 season, Quinn finally got the move he’d been angling for in March 1990 as City swooped in for him for £800,000. It proved to be a match made in heaven as the Ireland international would go on to make over 200 appearances for The Citizens, scoring 66 times in the league and even famously saving a penalty!
This week Paddy Power and Ruby Walsh welcomed Quinn as the star guest on our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast and it really was a can’t miss episode as he poured over his time at Arsenal, Man City, Sunderland – as well as involvement with Irish football. Quinn ended up being a bit of an icon with the City faithful – including with the club’s most famous fans from the rock group Oasis – and it even took a great Argentine striker to match his goalscoring exploits at the club.
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“I’m often asked, what Man City would I have preferred to play for? Believe it or not, I’m really glad I played for the Man City I did,” said Quinn.
“The Kippax (at Maine Road) was the toughest set of fans to please, because they had all of one side and behind one goal. It was incredible. It wasn’t a stand. It was in the old days, but they took it out and made it a terrace the whole way around before all-seater stadia had come in.”
If you please the Kippax, you were doing something. They didn’t suffer fools.
“I won them over, and it was a really great time in my life because I was becoming a player. I was showing what I was made of and I got 20 goals one year. I was the last City player to get 20 top-flight goals in a season before Carlos Tevez did it. So, times were good.”
Times have changed of course for footballers thanks to the digital age of mobile phones and social media. But, Quinn loved the innocence of the time he played in.
“It’s kind of Hollywood today, but in our days it was great,” smiled Quinn
“This local group started to become superstars at the time, and they would go on stage all over the country and they’d wear my shirt number with my name. Oasis used to do stuff like that.
“Suddenly you were getting ideas about yourself. I was asked to do Question of Sport, and you suddenly think, ‘Jesus, I’ve arrived’. Then I got married, and that life kind of slowed down a little bit then, but it was the time when I actually burst out of my shell in many ways at Man City, and I loved it. We had great fun.”
Quinn was quick to praise his former City manager Peter Reid for his improvement and revealed the then club chairman Howard Kendall had a special role for him at the club.
“Peter Reid got the best out of me in those days,” said Quinn.
Howard Kendall always used to say to me, if they players are going out, stay together and you mind them.
“I was the fella that had a licence to go out once I got everybody home safe, and I was good at it. I got very good at it in fact. We had some eventful nights and we had some craic, but that was it. There were no mobile phones then for Peter to see.
You couldn’t have lived the lives we led in those days if there were mobile phones, and that’s not to say we were really bad. It was just, life was different. In some respects, if you went into a pub, the locals would be thrilled to see you.
“They’d say, “Oh, fair play, thanks for coming in. You aren’t stuck up like the United lot, they don’t go anywhere”. They were afraid of their lives with Fergie though, and we were able to go off and do our bit a little bit under the radar.”
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