“I almost joined Real Madrid” – Finidi George
Super Eagles legend Finidi George has revealed he almost got signed by Real Madrid in 1996 before he joined another Spanish side, Real Betis.
The retired right winger who made his debut for Nigeria in 1991, in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Burkina Faso, was regarded as one of the best wingers in world football at that time after winning three Eredivisie titles and the Champions League with Ajax.
In a recent interview with Lagos Talks 91.3FM, Finidi noted that he signed a pre-contract with Real Madrid while he was with Ajax, but the deal fell off due to some financial issues.
He further revealed that Louis Van Gaal, who was then his manager at Ajax, was not happy when he heard about the negotiations and his pre-contract deal with Real Madrid. This, he said prompted Van Gaal to sign his compatriot, Tijani Babangida to Ajax.
The UEFA Champions League winner would later sign for Real Betis in 1996 where he scored 38 goals in 130 appearances for the Seville based club.
Finidi left Betis in 2000 and joined RCD Mallorca for a year, after which he moved to Premier League team, Ipswich Town. By then, his form had dipped and he underperformed in the English club; he was released from his contract in June 2003.
The 47-year-old legend, who has a UEFA A coaching license, was interviewed to coach one of the Nigerian youth teams and even offered to coach for free. However, he didn’t get the role. He now shuttles between Nigeria and Spain.