NORMAN “Scoop” GILLER has struck again, with a story which fooled many, and all on the day that he sees his 99th book published
Harry Kane, the player grabbing all the headlines this season, is today locked in the middle of a £100-million transfer tug of war between Tottenham’s arch-rivals Chelsea and Arsenal.
As Kane started in an England senior team for the first time in Italy last night, both clubs were plotting to prise him away from the Spurs club for which he has scored 19 Premier League goals since November.
Chelsea, I am told, are ready to offer skipper John Terry and veteran striker Didier Drogba plus £60 million cash in a package deal aimed at taking Kane to Stamford Bridge for the start of next season.
And I have it on good authority that Arsenal are determined to get in ahead of Chelsea with an offer that will be tabled before midday, with Kane’s new England team-mates Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott poised to go the other way to White Hart Lane plus a cash bait of £50million.
The total valuation would make Kane football’s first £100-million footballer.
An Emirates insider told me last night: “We are confident we can pull this off. Harry would be coming home. He was an Arsenal youth player, has red and white blood and we taught him all he knows. We know that Chelsea are interested, but Harry is a genuine Gooner. He belongs with us.”
From a source at White Hart Lane, I got this response: “We never stand in the way of our best players when they want to move to wealthier clubs. We would be very happy for Harry to better himself, provided owners Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy get lots and lots of money for him. We’ve got a new stadium to pay for.”
If Kane goes to the Emirates, it would be the biggest and most bitter transfer between the two sworn enemies since England international central defender Sol Campbell moved to Arsenal in 2001, a transfer that many Tottenham fans considered traitorous and for which they have never forgiven him. The rancour continues to this day, with the Conservative Party apparently wary of Campbell becoming their candidate for London Mayor next year in case it sparks further animosity among football fans in the north of the capital.
Would Kane be happy to make the move? Well his signing-on fee for either Chelsea or Arsenal would be in the region of £10 million and his salary around £250,000 a week, so he might just be tempted.
Many outstanding Tottenham players have been associated with Chelsea, including the likes of Bobby Smith and Clive Allen, and master marksman Jimmy Greaves, who is about to be inducted into the Spurs Hall of Fame after years of ducking the invitations.
If Kane chooses to go to Chelsea, he’d be the first major Spurs player to make the move in the Abramovich reign and it would make up for their failure to land Luka Modric. But I think Kane would consider it a Bridge too far.
Neither Jose Mourinho nor Arsene Wenger would comment last night, both dismissing me as some kind of fool.
We shall see. Remember, you read it here first. And remember when.
WHILE I’M MAKING A FOOL of myself, can I remind my reader that my 99th book is published today: The Ali Files, which gives you a ringside seat to Muhammad Ali’s 61 fights against 54 opponents.
It is more than 30 years since Ali last threw a punch, yet he remains unquestionably the best-known sportsman of all time. There is a generation growing up who only know the legend of Ali, never saw him fight and yet are in awe of him and his fantastic fistic feats. In The Ali Files, I give the facts behind the fable.
Boxing has always been the sport that has the biggest hold on me emotionally and statistically. Sad to tell you, to get to sleep at night I go through every world heavyweight champion since John L Sullivan. It beats counting sheep.
I was lucky enough to work as a publicist with Ali on some of his European fights, and got to know him as a friend as well as a fighter. In my corner to help me tell the story of The Greatest I have gathered many eyewitnesses of the Ali career – opponents, referees, his trainers, sparring partners, celebrity fans and ringside reporters, who were there as observers of his astonishing adventures in and out of the ring.
As a reporter for the trade paper Boxing News in the late 1950s I was aware before most people outside the United States that in Louisville, Kentucky, the descendant of a slave – Cassius Marcellus Clay – was emerging as an exceptional amateur boxer. He won the gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics to launch a career that saw him transcend the world of boxing – but also with some, become the most reviled of sportsmen.
The Muhammad Ali I got to know was a softly-spoken, modest gentleman, who became an actor of Olivier class if a microphone or camera came into range. He would switch to the public Ali, loudly, brashly selling seats and making life easy for headline-hunting, deadline-chasing newspapermen and interviewers. He was a born publicist as well as pugilist, with a mind hungry for knowledge.
Sadly, he got caught up in the poison of politics and what some would describe as the blind bigotry of religion. But, 50 years on from taking the world title from the “big, bad bear” Sonny Liston, Ali is a contented man as he battles ill health with the same bravery and resilience he used to show in the ring when he was justifiably known as, simply, “The Greatest”.
I have chosen Ali as the subject for the 99th book with which I have stupefied the great reading public because he is the most dynamic personality I have met in my 55-plus years scratching a living as a sportswriter. I have been lucky to have been in the company of many of the finest sports champions of post-war times, and Ali stands head and shoulders above them all as the most interesting and entertaining.
Millions of words have been written about the ringmaster but few books have given total concentration to each of his 61 professional contests. In The Ali Files I give an accurate account of each of those fights that turned him into a sporting legend. And to give the book a fascinating twist I reveal what has happened to each of Ali’s opponents since they took on The Greatest. You will be surprised, often shocked, by some of the revelations.
He has outlived 31 of his opponents, and at least a dozen of those surviving are struggling with dementia problems caused by taking too many punches.
My book is not for the faint-hearted, but paints I hope an accurate portrait of an exceptional athlete and extraordinary man. Yes, The Greatest.
- The article was first published on April 1, 2015
- The Ali Files, published by Pitch Publishing and available in bookshops or direct from the author at www.normangillerbooks.com
As with all authored pieces on sportsjournalists.co.uk, the views expressed here do not represent the views or policy of the SJA. Readers are always welcome to post their comments on the content of this column and the rest of the site
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UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Mon Apr 13: SJA Spring Golf Day, Wimbledon Park GC. Booking details here
Wed Apr 22: SJA 2015 annual meeting. Details have been sent to all SJA members
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