HARRY Redknapp has revealed it was Alan Shearer who first recommended Sebastién Bassong to him, but the Tottenham Hotspur boss believes he would never have signed the defender had Shearer been installed as Newcastle United manager.
His admission is the latest in an unrelenting series of body blows to the Tyneside club since relegation.
Bassong joined the Magpies on trial in July 2008 and was one of the few success stories of the campaign. Having been signed to provide cover across the back four, he quickly established himself as United’s first-choice centre-back. So much so, that Bassong was on the three-man list of players Shearer told owner Mike Ashley in May must not be sold.
But with Shearer left in limbo by Newcastle’s failure to appoint a permanent manager, Redknapp took advantage after recalling a conversation in April.
“When we played Newcastle last year I spoke to Iain Dowie (Shearer’s assistant) and Alan Shearer after the game and they spoke about the team, they were in desperate trouble,” he said. “Iain said if they didn’t stay and one player did become available, Sebastién was the player to take. They couldn’t have recommended him any higher. Alan as well. He said, ‘If I stay at the club there is no way he’ll ever leave’. Alan didn’t get the job and he (Bassong) was the first person we went for.”
At £8m, Newcastle recouped 16 times the fee they paid for Bassong, who made his Cameroon debut this week, in 12 months. But it is the nature of his departure which will most upset the fans. If April’s 1-0 defeat at White Hart Lane was important in selling Bassong to Spurs, the same was true in reverse.
“Tottenham have a good squad, manager and reputation and when we played Tottenham last season they made a good impression and I thought it was the club for me,” he said.
“We have the squad to finish in the first part of the table, maybe sixth. I can’t say first, fourth or fifth but I think we are going to do good things this season.”
The defender is set to make his debut in tomorrow’s televised game against Liverpool after Spurs argued he should not be suspended.
NEWCASTLE’S reserve team fixture at Middlesbrough has been switched to October 6, kicking off at the Riverside at 7pm.