Friday Sep 30, 2022. 13:00
Nigerian legend Finidi George has divulged why he didn’t join Real Madrid despite attracting interest from the Spanish football heavyweights during his playing days.
The retired attacker established himself as one of the most exciting young wingers in the world during his days with Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam – being a leading figure in a team that won eight major titles, including the 1995 UEFA Champions League title.
George has now stated that Madrid were keen to sign him after Ajax’s defeat to Italian football powerhouse Juventus FC in the 1996 UEFA Champions League final, but the Whites couldn’t afford to purchase him at the time.
“After our Champions League final defeat to Juventus, the coach made it clear that they wanted to sell me and if even I stayed back at Ajax, that I was not going to play,” George said on All Nigerian Soccer.
“At that time, Real Madrid were interested in signing me but as at that time, they didn’t have the kind of money that they have now.”
George ended up joining Madrid’s La Liga rivals, Real Betis in 1996 and he achieved legendary status during his four-year stint with the club.
“Real Betis then came with a good offer and I had to go. My stay there was memorable,” the Port Harcourt-born legend, who was an important member of the Nigeria team during the 1990s, appearing in two FIFA World Cups, continued.
“At Real Betis, I scored in the final of the Copa del Rey the following season against Barcelona. Real Betis were defeated 2-3 by Barcelona after extra time.
“It was a big game. Real Betis did everything we could but it was not possible (to win). Barcelona had the edge, they had the experience.”
George, who scored six times from 62 international matches for Nigeria, is currently in charge of Nigerian giants Enyimba as the head coach.