John Beresford: Liverpool's board vetoed my transfer from Portsmouth - and Kevin Keegan's Newcastle stepped in

Pompey left-back John Beresford's move to Liverpool in the summer of 1992 was scrapped - and instead he joined NewcastlePompey left-back John Beresford's move to Liverpool in the summer of 1992 was scrapped - and instead he joined Newcastle
Pompey left-back John Beresford's move to Liverpool in the summer of 1992 was scrapped - and instead he joined Newcastle | JPIMedia

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Former Pompey favourite John Beresford has revealed how Liverpool’s board vetoed his dream Anfield move.

And instead he departed Fratton Park for league rivals Newcastle in a switch would earn him Premier League and England B recognition.

The attacking left-back had set his heart n leaving Blues in the summer of 1992 following a season which saw Jim Smith’s side reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

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In a 2017 interview for Played Up Pompey Too, Beresford admitted he subsequently agreed terms to join Liverpool.

However, following a medical, the Anfield board stepped in and instructed boss Graeme Souness scrapped the deal – opening the door for a July 1992 switch to St James’ Park.

‘I had gone as far as I could with Pompey and it was time to go. My contract was up, although Jim Smith was going to offer a new deal purely to push up the price,’ he told Played Up Pompey Too.

‘Division One Chelsea were the first to show interest. After the season ended, I received a phone call about a supposed double deal involving Andy Awford.

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‘However, I’d already had a little indication about Liverpool, Sheffield Wednesday and a couple of other clubs, so wasn't too bothered about moving to Stamford Bridge.

‘I didn’t want to live in London or play in London, I was more interested in returning up north, obviously Liverpool held much more interest.

‘I spoke to Chelsea boss Ian Porterfield, though. He delighted in telling me how they were going to sign this player and that player – and I sat there thinking “I am here you know, how exactly am I going to fit into all of this?”.

‘You get a gut feeling for a manager and whether you can play for him. With Porterfield it was a case of “No, not for me”. Let’s just say the meeting didn’t last long, I wasn’t impressed at all.

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‘This is why I find modern-day football bewildering. A director of football will sign you for a club but you don’t meet the manager. Surely you’ve got to speak to the person you want to play for?

‘The reason Awfs’ side of the deal also never went through was because too many people were leaving Pompey at the time. Darren Anderton had joined Spurs, I was out of contract and looking to go, the club couldn’t let everyone go – and Awfs got the short straw.

‘Then the offer I wanted arrived. Jim Smith rang: “I’ve had a £700,000 bid from Liverpool for you. Would you like to go and talk to them?”.

‘From me being lower than a snake’s belly and having a bit of an injury at the season’s end, suddenly I was meeting Graeme Souness in London for talks, the Reds’ boss having just come out of hospital following a triple heart bypass.

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‘Then it was up to Anfield, where the contract was agreed and the medical taken. I was hanging around when Souness came in and asked if I’d ever fractured my ankle – well I had, both of them at different stages.

‘It turned out my right ankle hadn’t set properly following a break during my Barnsley days, despite being put in plaster. I had failed the medical.

‘I later found out the scrapping of the transfer wasn’t actually down to that injury. Instead there was a problem with a couple of members of the Liverpool board, who insisted on a new policy of everyone signed had to be 100 per cent fit.

‘If you examine footballers thoroughly enough you will find something wrong, it is standard wear and tear. Souness told me I had been caught in the middle of something at that moment in time. It was politics, simple as.

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‘Despite their doubts, I would go on to play another 250 professional matches, the vast majority in the newly-formed Premier League.

‘Still, I was devastated and left Anfield in tears, it occurred to me that no-one was going to touch me.

‘I thought I had better let Pompey know: “Jim, the deal’s off, I’ve failed a medical on my ankle”.

‘The response was typical Jim: “What a load of rubbish, you’ve played more than 100 games since then”. Regardless, I was staying at Pompey.

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‘Then he added: “Well, somebody else wants you, Kevin Keegan at Newcastle United”.

‘We had played Newcastle that season in Division Two, they weren’t a great team and had finished 20th, but Keegan was a boyhood hero of mine and I was keen to meet him.

‘By the end of that same day I was a Newcastle player.’

John Beresford made 132 Pompey appearances and scored 10 goals from March 1989 until July 1992.

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