Newcastle United assistant manager Paul Simpson has a new claim to fame – he almost signed Jamie Vardy!
The Leicester City striker leads the Premier League scoring table with 12 goals.
Paul says that his claim to fame is that he tried to sign Jamie Vardy from Halifax when he was the manager of Stockport.Steve McClaren
And the 28-year-old, having scored in his last nine games, can equal a 12-year-old record held by former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy if he nets against Newcastle at St James’s Park this afternoon.
But just four years ago the England international – who is struggling with a hip problem – was playing non-league football with Halifax Town.
Vardy went to Fleetwood Town, where he was picked up by Leicester.
Simpson, then manager of Stockport County, was also interested in him, but the club was £5,000 short for a player now valued at over £15million.
United head coach Steve McClaren said: “Paul says that his claim to fame is that he tried to sign Jamie Vardy from Halifax when he was the manager of Stockport.
“In fairness, he said that everybody knew about him when he was playing at Halifax, and everybody was after him.
“But he couldn’t scrape another £5,000 together to do the deal and he ended up going to Fleetwood for about £50,000.”
McClaren considered signing Che Adams from non-league Ilkeston when he was in charge of Derby County.
Newcastle also considered a move for the forward, who ended up joining Sheffield United.
And McClaren feels there are late-developers – like Queens Park Rangers’ Charlie Adam – who can make the jump from non-league football.
McClaren said: “I had something a little bit similar.
“When I was at Derby, we had a long look at Che Adams, who was playing with Ilkeston at the time.
“We scouted a fair bit, but had three or four similar wide players so we didn’t do the deal. He’s gone and done well for Sheffield United, though. Charlie Austin is another big example of a player who has done well.”
Austin was a target for United in the summer, but the club baulked at QPR’s £15million valuation.