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Paul Gascoigne explains reason for turning down chance to sign for Man United

Paul Gascoigne decided against joining Manchester United because he didn’t think he could get in the team ahead of Bryan Robson and Neil Webb.

Gascoigne came close to joining United when he left Newcastle in 1988 and he’d given Sir Alex Ferguson his word, but he signed for Tottenham instead.

Ferguson remained an admirer of one of English football’s greatest ever talents but a deal to bring Gascoigne to Old Trafford never happened.

Speaking to Bryan Robson in an interview to promote the film due out on Robson’s life at the end of this month, Gascoigne has revealed that one of the reasons he didn’t join United was because he wasn’t sure how often he would play.

“There was the gaffer (Bryan) and Neil Webb, always together [for England], and I’m thinking, I am never going to get a game here,” Gascoigne told the United website .

“And then Neil Webb done his ankle, and he got taken off then I got the chance to play with the gaffer in midfield, which for me, is probably one of the best feelings ever.

“You know, I think that is one of the reasons I didn’t join Man United. Because it was just Neil Webb and the gaffer constantly and obviously Neil Webb played for Man United and I thought maybe I’ll not get a game. That was one of the reasons.”

Gascoigne and Robson were only ever teammates for England, although Robson signed the midfielder for Middlesbrough in 1998, when he was managing on Teesside.

But Gascoigne’s respect and affection for Robson is clear, as is the esteem he has for the ability of one of the United’s greatest ever midfielders.

“Idol… I am in awe with him. He’s my idol. Always will be. I just love him in general. And I always will do,” he said.

“It’s like I’ve said, forget about Maradona, Pele. The gaffer has always been my best player, ever. If I’d had a bit of Bryan Robson inside of us, and the player I was. I’d have been untouchable.”

Gascoigne’s first encounter with Robson came as a 17-year-old when the latter scored a penalty for United at St James’ Park. Gascoigne turned to his idol and told him “great penalty, Bryan”.

“I can remember you when you were 17, and you said that, and I thought, who’s that kid there, like. Congratulating me on scoring a penalty, (laughs) and I am playing against him! I was thinking, you’re not supposed to do that,” said Robson.

“But then I can remember the next year, when we played you at St James’ Park, you were running rings round me and Ray Wilkins. And I tried to belt you a couple of times, but you skipped over me. And we got in at half time, and that was the closest I got to a hairdryer treatment from Sir Alex. He was screaming at me, and I said, I know gaffer, but I didn’t really know much about him…but I said, he’s not bad!”

ROBBO: The Bryan Robson Story will be available on DVD, Blu Ray and digital download from November 29.

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