Redknapp: I gave Avram a Pompey job to get Johnson
Harry Redknapp has revealed how he had to employ Avram Grant in order to secure the arrival of Glen Johnson.
The Chelsea right-back represented a coup when Pompey recruited him on a season-long loan in 2006-07.
He went on to stay at Fratton Park for three years, establishing himself as an England regular and crowned The News/Sport Mail’s player of the season.
Johnson was also an integral member of the 2008 FA Cup-winning side.
But negotiations to recruit him were a little unusual.
Redknapp said: ‘We signed Glen for £4m and sold him to Liverpool for £18m. What a fantastic right-back.
‘Initially we loaned him, though, which came out of a meeting I had with Sacha Gaydamak in Israel during the summer of 2006.
‘We had just stayed up in the Premier League and, while chatting about transfer plans, Sacha asked me to give Avram Grant a job.
‘Well, I didn’t know Avram, so I told him “no, I’ve got my staff, I don’t need him”. He replied “yes, but I want you to give him a job”.
‘Once again I said “I don’t know him, I’ve got my own staff, I don’t need him”.
‘Then Sacha explained a little more “Mr Abramovich wants him to have a job”.
‘I responded with “well, tell Mr Abramovich to give him a job, not me”.
‘Then he really got my interest. He said “if you give him a job I think Mr Abramovich will loan us one, maybe two, players from Chelsea. Good players!”.
‘So I said “I’ll take Glen Johnson. Okay, Avram’s in!”.
‘Avram came in as technical director and I loved him. I got on very well with him, we had a great relationship. But at the time when Sacha asked I didn’t know him, so it was difficult.
‘Once he came in I really enjoyed being with him, we’ve been good friends ever since but I always felt he would end up at Chelsea because he was so close to Roman Abramovich.
‘As for Glen, I had previously signed him at West Ham, he was a centre-half, an England schoolboy international and could have played that position.
‘He’s actually a bit taller than he looks. On pitch he seems 5ft 10in or 5ft 11in but really he’s 6ft with a great spring and good in the air.
‘Glen’s a quiet boy, a nice boy and ended up being a fantastic attacking right-back.
‘We also had an option to buy him – and a year later got him for £4m.’
Johnson made 100 appearances for Pompey, scoring four times.