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Chris Waddle talks England heartache, Marseille & Harry Kane

| 04.07.2021

Not many England players can boast being a German’s “favourite Englishman” or having a number one single, but one man who can is former England footballer, Chris Waddle.

The 60-year old spoke to us ahead of his England v Denmark Ladbrokes 5-A-Side selection at Euro 2020…

On being Franz Beckenbauer’s “favourite Englishman”

“The best thing for me after the World Cup in 1990 was that I was going back to France to play for Marseille. I’m lucky, because if I’d have been back in England, I’d have to go through the night and relive the story again and again.

“When I went back to Marseille, we’d just employed Franz Beckenbauer as manager, who’d obviously just won the World Cup with Germany. When I walked onto the training ground after two weeks off, the first thing he said to me was “Ahh, my favourite Englishman!” because of that penalty.

“We talked about the game, and he said it was the hardest game they played of the tournament. He felt as though England could have won the game in normal time. He had a lot of respect for England, and he saw that semi-final as the final, because he knew whoever won it would go on and win the whole thing.”

On World In Motion

“World In Motion just came out of the blue. I remember a few of the lads just sitting around in the hotel room, and someone mentioned the song and asked if we wanted to take part in it.

“Normally, we all had to take part in it, but this time it was a different idea and we weren’t being made to get involved.

“I think it was a Sunday afternoon and, to be honest, we were just bored, sitting around in a hotel, so we got involved. We went to a record studio down the road, we just wanted to get out of that bubble of the hotel.

“We just had a laugh with it; I think we had a couple of beers and the next thing you know we’re all singing ‘ENGLAND!’

“We didn’t really think much else of it after that until the tournament got underway, and even then it wasn’t performing that well at first; it was only once we started winning games, it got played more and more, creeping up the charts.

“I’ve got a gold disc for that performance. All I did was say the word ‘England’ a few times, but I got a knock on the door one day and there was this big parcel addressed to me. I opened it up and it was a gold disc. So at least I can say I’ve got a number one single.

“It all coincided with a great summer for the nation; we were playing fantastic football, we reached a semis, this song was out there and people were really getting into the spirit of things. It just shows what a good run in a football tournament can do for the nation.”

Italia ’90 tears & Bobby’s words of wisdom

“Bobby Robson was as disappointed as we were in the changing room after the Germany shootout. We’d come so close, and he was very passionate about England and English football.

“He went around the room to every player individually and told us we’d done the country proud, we’d had a good game and we’ve now got to move on. It’s history, you leave it and you move on. There were a lot of tears in that changing room, which you’d expect.

“It takes a couple of weeks to really set in. You’re at home with your family and you can’t help but think ‘we nearly won that tournament’. That’s when you start thinking of the ifs and buts.

“We’d still have had a tough game against Argentina but we’d have fancied our chances against that side. They didn’t have a lot of top players, they were just a bit physical. They spoiled every game they were in.”

Getting Paul Gascoigne to join Tottenham

“I would have loved to have spent a year playing with Gary Lineker at Tottenham; me and Gazza [Paul Gascoigne] used to pester him at every England camp to come back from Barcelona and sign for Spurs.

“We used to ask him every time we got together if he was coming back to England, until he said “yeah, probably”, and from then on we pestered him to come to Tottenham. I told him he’d get 50 goals a season for us. Whatever the record was at the time for goals scored in a season, I told Gary he’d have smashed it for us.

“Me and Gazza would tell him we’d create so many chances for him throughout a season, and you could see Gary thinking about it.

“He definitely liked the sound of it. That was his job; scoring goals, so you could see he was thinking about playing with me and Gazza behind him for Tottenham. He signed for us on the Monday, and I left on the Wednesday!

“The next time we met up was with England; I was at Marseille and he was at Spurs. I can’t tell you the exact words he said to me when he saw me in that reception room. But we laughed it off straight away. I always wondered what it would’ve been like playing with him in that season.

“I’m not saying we’d have won the league, but we’d have scored a lot of goals between us; I know that much.”

On Gary Lineker

“You could always see that Gary [Lineker] was going to get into presenting. Even when we used to join up together for England in the early 1990s, he used to interview us. He used to sit us down – me and Gazza – in a room, and he’d interview us as if he was Des Lynam.

“He used to say that’s what he wanted to do after football; he knew that early on in his career. He knew he was going to be on TV. Every time we met up he’d sit and interview us, and he’d get feedback. He was already getting the practice in and the experience under his belt.

“He’s done really well for himself, Gary. He’s been on the other side of it as well, having been a player, so it must be strange for him at times because he must be tempted to answer himself. But he’s excellent at his job, he really is.”

On playing in Marseille

“The young English lads who make that move abroad deserve a lot of credit for making that decision. I’ve always been a fan of youngsters playing in a foreign country because you adapt your game so much and you learn so many different things.

“The biggest difference for me when I joined Marseille, obviously, was the language. I could only count to 10 in French, and I could say hello and goodbye. That’s all I could do.

“There are some players in that team who I actually didn’t speak to for months, because I couldn’t speak French and their English wasn’t the best.

“But eventually I found that a lot of the players used to use me to practice on their English. So they’d come and have a conversation with me and I’d correct them if they made any mistakes. So they all ended up with this Geordie twang.

“When the TV companies used to come out to France to film me, they’d grab a couple of the French lads for chats as well. Then the interviewers and the cameraman would say to me “Chris, they’re all speaking with a Geordie accent!” They got it every day from me, so they picked up the little Geordie quirks I had.

“The first three months in Marseille were really, really tough, more from a physical side of things. I hadn’t really had much of a pre-season when I arrived, but the lads had been back in training for a while.

“In England, we used to get 10-12 weeks off, but in France you got a month if you were lucky. So when I joined up with the squad they were all super-fit and I was a few weeks behind. But they threw me straight into the team because I was an expensive signing.

“I just asked everyone out there – especially the media – just to give me three months to get used to the culture, the language, get my fitness up. They gave me about three days before they started hammering me. So, I went on strike for a year and wouldn’t speak to the media.

“I was living in a hotel for a while out there and it was really getting me down, so once I got settled with my family in our house, I gave myself three months. I can remember saying that on a Monday morning; I’d accepted that I’d be getting sold back to England if things didn’t go well in the next three months.

“Four days later, we beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 and I scored that famous back-heel goal. That was the game for me I feel like I arrived at Marseille. Four days after I moved into my house, and I went on to have three unbelievable years.”

Kane leaves Spurs for City this summer

“Realistically, Harry Kane probably wants that transfer to happen as soon as possible. There’s a new manager at Tottenham again, they haven’t signed anyone yet, they need to strengthen, in particular in defence.

“It’s a big job for Nuno Espirito Santo to go in and do, and Harry’s now thinking about himself, and his own career.

“Harry’s never going to be short of money, so he’ll only move to improve his chances of adding to that trophy cabinet. He wants proper medals, Premier League titles, Champions League titles.

“Unless Tottenham can convince him that they’re going to be challenging at the top end of those competitions in England and in Europe, I think Harry will leave.

“Realistically, I only see Manchester City signing Kane. I don’t think anyone else can really afford him. Other clubs might be able to offer players as part of a swap deal, but that’s not what Tottenham want. We know Daniel Levy won’t be fighting to make things happen he’ll be holding out for that £100m amount. Levy won’t be giving Kane away. He’s still got another three years on his contract.

“I don’t think Harry Kane is the sort of lad who downs tools if he doesn’t get his move. For me personally, it’s only Man City who can afford him. Manchester United made their move for Jadon Sancho, so to ship out another £100m on Kane, that would be a lot of money for that club to spend.

“Man City haven’t really got a number nine now Sergio Aguero’s gone; yes they’ve got Gabriel Jesus but he doesn’t really get them the number of goals they want, and I could just see Kane fitting in with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and the rest of that team. I could see him fitting in really well up there.”

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