Former Leeds United Director Admits to Chasing Diego Maradona After Cantona Was Sold to Man Utd

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Former Leeds United managing director Bill Fotherby has revealed that the club were looking to sign Diego Maradona and Paul Gascoigne after seeing Eric Cantona leave Elland Road in 1992, according to the Daily Mail.

The French striker moved to Manchester United in the early 90's for £1.6m, going on to feature 170 times for the Red Devils in a five-year spell in Manchester. Losing Cantona to their rivals left a huge gap in the Leeds side, however, Fotherby has admitted that the club had high ambitions on who could replace Cantona at Elland Road.

When recalling a conversation Fotherby had with Maradona's agent, Jon Smith, he claimed: "Jon said, 'Bill, you couldn't afford Maradona. No chance. Do you realise that you're talking £8m?'

"Everyone thought we were crazy. But I got Smith up to Leeds and we had lunch in the box, looking onto the pitch."

Fotherby remembers talking to Maradona's agent about a friendly match that would be taking place between England and a World XI, telling Smith that Leeds' interest in the Argentine legend must remain a secret.


"Soon we were getting phone calls from Buenos Aires about Maradona. Directors of Arsenal and Tottenham are asking: 'Are you going for b****y Maradona? Where have you got the money from?'"

Despite the interest in Maradona, Fotherby said that Leeds came closest to signing Paul Gascoigne as a replacement for Cantona.

"I had dinner with the [Lazio] chairman. He told me: 'We'll do a deal, but you must not tell a soul that you're here for him'. I agreed.

"I got up the following morning and went down for breakfast. I got the Gazetta newspaper. Headline: 'Fotherby, managing director of Leeds United, here to sign Gascoigne'. The deal fell apart."