Manchester United tried to sign Sheffield Wednesday legend to ease Alan Shearer miss and even submitted record bid
David Hirst rues the fact he didn’t bang on the manager’s door to force through a transfer to Manchester United.
The forward was playing for Sheffield Wednesday when United missed out on a deal to sign Southampton striker Alan Shearer in 1992 and attention was turned to the hotshot Hillsborough ace.
In fact, Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign Hirst on six occasions, ultimately tabling a British record bid of £4.5million for the England forward – an offer that was rejected by the late Sheffield Wednesday boss Trevor Francis.
With United moving on to sign Eric Cantona from Leeds United instead, Hirst, who scored 128 goals in 358 games for Wednesday, never got the opportunity to move to Old Trafford again, something he regrets.
In an interview with the Daily Mail in November 2015, Hirst explained: “I’d been talking to Alex Ferguson for a couple of weeks and I was going to Man United.
“A fax was sent with an offer of £4.5million and I was expecting Trevor to say: ‘Man United, £4.5m, away you go’. But he said, ‘I’m not selling you’.
“One thing I never did in my career was knock on the manager’s door because I’m not in the team or I want more money. If you’re not happy with the contract, don’t sign it.
“If you’re not in the team, go out on the training ground and do your best. It’s no good knocking on the door telling him what a good player you are if you’ve not been doing it. I never had a problem with that.
“Sitting here now, I should’ve banged the door down. It’s orchestrated now and if Man United are interested your agent will get you there by hook or by crook.
“Financially, it wouldn’t have been much different. We weren’t on £50,000 a week then. We were all on pretty much the same.
“I was playing for Sheffield Wednesday, third in the league, in Europe, cup finals, good wages, but a Man United player comes with a different tag. It is the one thing I regret.”
Francis gave his version of events in is autobiography ‘One In A Million’, saying: “Manchester United were following David for a while when Alex Ferguson was manager and I can still hear Alex now on my car phone totally exasperated with me because he had put in two offers which I had knocked back.
“He then offered £4m and with the 100 per cent backing of the board I told him we were not interested in doing anything with David Hirst.
“I refused £4m and Alex bellowed down the phone in his Scottish accent, ‘Do you realise this is Manchester United Football Club and you are stopping a player from going to Man United?’
“I told him that Sheffield Wednesday were a big club, not as big as Man United, and that I was looking to continue the improvements I was making and David Hirst was a big part of my plans.
“I stuck to my guns but I will never forget Alex Ferguson telling me what he thought of me!
“I was on the M1 motorway and he was not aware that Helen [Francis’ wife] was in the car listening to him on the speaker phone.
“If she had been a referee he would undoubtedly have been given a red card for his bad language!”
Instead Ferguson brought in Cantona who became a club legend due to the success he brought
Hirst went on to stay with Sheffield Wednesday until 1997 before joining Southampton for £2m.
Cantona, however, helped United to their first league title in 26 years in what was the first ever Premier League season. He left in 1997 as a legend whose name still appears in the stands today thanks to his charismatic personality, brilliance on the ball and 82 goals in 185 appearances for the club.
The Owls, though, have endured tough times, being relegated from the Premier League in 2000.
They have just emerged from their third stint in League One since those heady days and take on Southampton on their Championship return this Friday – a game you can hear live on talkSPORT.