Matt Le Tissier has revealed how close he came to leaving Southampton and joining boyhood club Tottenham – while he also turned down an approach from his hero Glenn Hoddle at Chelsea.
The Saints legend, who spent his entire professional career on the south coast, was one of the most gifted players in the English top-flight for over a decade and attracted plenty of attention from rival teams.
Speaking to Ruby Walsh and Paddy Power on the latest episode of From The Horse’s Mouth, Le Tissier recalled how he snubbed two tempting offers to move and instead went on to write his name into Southampton folklore by scoring over 200 goals for the club.
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I was very close to joining Tottenham when I was 21. They were the only football club that I ever actually spoke to representatives from.
I had a meeting in London with my agent, and that was the only time I was ever really tempted to leave Southampton, because Spurs was the team that I supported as a kid. That was my team. Glenn Hoddle was my hero, and so to have followed in his footsteps would have been quite something.
At the time it just didn’t feel right
I didn’t feel like I wanted to go. I was very young, and that was the closest it ever came. I had a couple of enquiries from my agent, who told me that Liverpool were interested a couple of years after that, and then Chelsea a couple of years after that when Glenn Hoddle was manager.
Looking back, I probably didn’t do my England career any favours by turning those moves down, because Terry Venables was the Spurs manager in 1990 when I turned them down, and Glenn Hoddle was the Chelsea manager in 1995 when I turned them down. They both went on to become the next England managers.
My proposed move to Spurs went a long way down the road. That was literally me changing my mind at the last second, and for a long period of time Spurs would have been thinking that I was going to be their player.
The Chelsea one was just a phone call from my agent, at which point I said “No, I’m happy at Southampton and I don’t want to leave”. He rang me back about five minutes later and said “I’ve told Chelsea that you don’t want to go, but Glenn Hoddle’s asked if he could speak to you”.
I turn around and went “I’ve made my mind up, I don’t want to speak to him” which was quite a big thing really, considering he was my hero as a kid. I didn’t want to be put in that awkward position of having to tell him on the phone. I didn’t want to talk to my hero and go “Do you know what, mate? I don’t really want to play for you.”
I don’t have any regrets at all.
I spent 17 fantastic years at Southampton Football Club. I dedicated pretty much a third of my life to that football club, and I wouldn’t change anything.
I love the club.
The fans were always brilliant to me. They were a big part of the decision for me to stay there, even from as a young 17-year-old sat on the bench, they always had my back. When I was on the bench, they were always making songs up and trying to put pressure on the manager to get me on the pitch.
Even when I went through poor spells, they didn’t really get on my back at all. They were patient with me, and I just felt like I owed Southampton Football Club something. I was just a little kid from Guernsey who had a dream of being a professional footballer, and Southampton allowed me to do that, and I always felt like I owed them.
I didn’t want to have on my conscience that if I left Southampton Football Club and they got relegated – I don’t think I could have slept at night, to be honest. It might not have happened, but I didn’t want to take the chance.
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