‘Am I speaking to Zinedine f***ing Zidane?’: Leicester icon Matt Elliott reveals Martin O’Neill’s hilarious response during tense negotiations over failed Celtic move… that resulted in the manager not speaking to him for years!
- Matt Elliott has opened up on his tense transfer negotiations with Martin O’Neill
- The Leicester icon was interested in re-joining O’Neill at Celtic in summer 2021
- But when Elliott asked for too much money, the Irishman bit back sarcastically
- Transfer news LIVE: Man United close in on Napoli star, Kane’s team meets PSG
Leicester stalwart Matt Elliott has opened up on Martin O’Neill’s hilarious quip during fraught transfer negotiations.
Elliott played under O’Neill at Leicester from 1997 to 2000, winning the League Cup in 2000 and being named man-of-the-match in the final.
The Irish manager moved to Celtic in 2000 and tried to bring the big centre half to Glasgow. It did not work out but the following summer, Elliott’s interest in the move became known and the clubs started talks.
And the Scotland international told the Under the Cosh podcast that when he asked for a lot of money in talks with the Hoops, a frustrated O’Neill sarcastically asked if he was dealing with World Cup-winning superstar Zinedine Zidane.
He said: ‘It came to the point where I thought it was going to happen, basically. And I said to my agent: ‘If I’m going to go and relocate and everything, go big, sod it’. I was 32 and thought it could be my last contract.
Leicester icon Matt Elliott (right) revealed Martin O’Neill’s hilarious quip in tense transfer talks
When Irish boss O’Neill moved to Celtic, he made an offer to bring defender Elliott with him
But the 54-year-old (above) admitted that when he asked for too much money, O’Neill sarcastically asked if he was dealing with France’s World Cup-winning star Zinedine Zidane
‘I said: ‘Go for it, have a bit of a laugh with the figures.’ I didn’t know exactly what the figures had been. (My agent) Jonathan Barnett gets back to me and says ‘Right, Martin will phone you at half past two, don’t miss the call’.
‘I pick the phone up, say hello but there’s silence, and it was Martin, who in his voice said: ‘Hello there. Am I speaking to Zinedine f***ing Zidane?’,’ before the panellists collapsed into raucous laughter.
Elliott then added: ‘I thought ‘s**t’, the agent must have gone in too heavy! Martin said ‘Come on Matty, you know I like you – but I don’t like you that much’, I said ‘yeah, agents, you know what they’re like.”
The defender then went on to admit that signing a new contract with Leicester, who had offered him a four-year contract at the age of 32, led to O’Neill believing he was playing the two sides off against each other to earn more money.
That caused O’Neill to ‘fall out with him’ and not talk to his former player for a while -though Elliott added that they have now cleared things up between them.
At the time, Elliott said: ‘It was flattering that a club the size of Celtic, playing in the Champions League, should come in for me. But it never became an issue.
‘The main issue was that Leicester came to me before Celtic and that was my main concern. I’ve enjoyed every minute here and was keen to stay. The club wanted me to stay so the feeling is mutual.
‘This new contract will take me up to near the end of my career and it is nice to have things sorted before the start of the season.’
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