MARTIN EDWARDS was in his office when the phone rang on November 24, 1992 — a call that changed the history of Manchester United.
At the other end of the line was Leeds chief executive Bill Fotherby, asking if Denis Irwin was for sale.
Different tales have it that Sir Alex Ferguson was in the room at the time, though Edwards insists not.
But what is not in doubt is that it set the wheels in motion for the arrival of a man who became an Old Trafford legend.
Edwards, now honorary president, recalled that momentous phonecall 25 years ago.
He said: “When Bill rang, I’d heard rumours Eric and Howard Wilkinson weren’t getting on so I just threw in, totally off the cuff, if there was any chance of selling him. Bill said, ‘That’s not as daft as it seems, I’ll ask Howard’.
“Obviously I would never do anything without talking to ‘Alec’ and when I asked if he’d be interested in Eric, he immediately said, ‘You bet I would’.
“When Bill called the next day he said the only way they could agree would be if it was done very, very quickly.
“He knew the fans loved him and would go berserk. Obviously we said we could do it as quick as they wanted.
“They asked for £1.6million but after some toing and froing we settled on £1m.
“Leeds were keen to say the initial figure. I told them they could say whatever they wanted! Peter Schmeichel was an unbelievable buy at £505,000 but Eric was just as important.
“In five years we won four titles, two Doubles and we would have won another if he wasn’t suspended in 1995.
“We just missed out on the title the season before the Premier League started. But when we won it after Eric arrived — after 26 years — the pressure was off and it took off from there.
“And while Eric had his disciplinary problems at times, he had a trigger that occasionally set him off, off the field he was absolutely fine — no bother at all.
“He’s been back a few times over the years and will always be very well received here, but why not? He’s a Manchester United hero.”
- RED GLORY: MANCHESTER UNITED AND ME by MARTIN EDWARDS is out now.