Everton goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has told talkSPORT how he came close to joining Tottenham twice, as well as Liverpool.
The Toffees shot-stopper has a long and storied career in England which began almost 20 years ago and culminated with a Premier League title playing for Chelsea in 2017.
Playing for nine different English teams throughout his career, Begovic had memorable spells at Stoke and Bournemouth, as well as where it all started, Portsmouth.
Moving to the south coast aged 16, Begovic joined the club on a trial basis, with another lining up at Spurs two weeks later, however, it didn’t turn out that way.
Begovic recalled: “About 20 years ago when I first came to England aged 16, I had two tries lined up, Portsmouth and Spurs, two weeks each.
“I walked into Portsmouth and had two really amazing days of training and I played a bit of a friendly game and the academy manager pulled me in and said ‘Listen, I want to sign you, two-year academy, two-year pro, but on one condition.”
“I said ‘What is this condition?’ and he said, ‘You can’t go to Spurs’, so I was like, ‘Of course, I messed up, it was my dream to come to England, so that was enough easy.
“We’ll withdraw the offer if you go to Spurs for the wholesale trial, I had another 10 days at Portsmouth and then I was supposed to go to Spurs.
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“That’s a bit mean,” replied talkSPORT host Darren Bent, but Begovic has no regrets.
“It was easy,” he said. “I was 16 and it was my dream to come to England, it was obvious.”
Later in Bosnian Pompey’s career, he was again approached by Tottenham and came even closer, completing a full medical before changing his mind the next day.
“That was when Pompey was in trouble,” he explained. “They had just entered the Premier League, I was playing a few games, I was really enjoying it, I loved the experience.
“But they were in financial difficulty so all the assets in January would have to be sold, so I knew there was a chance I would have to go through that window.
“I had a call two or three days before the end of the window and my agent told me there was a deal for you and Younes Kabul to go to Spurs.
“I traveled all the way to London, had a medical all day, it was literally a 10am thing, I was out later and had so many missed calls from my agent so I met him in the evening and he said Stoke came for you, Tony Pulis wants to talk to you.
“I ended up talking to them, I went home that night just to think about everything and Spurs thought I was at the hotel so in the morning they thought I was going to sign.
“So I went home just to think about it, to tell my girlfriend that I wanted to go to Stoke, but Pompey kept rushing me to go to Spurs saying ‘no, we’ve done the deal “, it was repaying a debt.
“I just thought it was the best place for my development. [Spurs manager] Harry Redknapp was brilliant, he said, ‘[Heurelho] Gomes is going there this summer, you will play but I just thought Stoke was a better route for me.
Although he won the Premier League with Chelsea, Begovic could have won the Champions League with Liverpool instead, as he also revealed.
The starting place under Brendan Rodgers was between him and Simon Mignolet, with the subsequent signing from Sunderland and who won a winners’ medal in 2019.
He said: “The main one was Liverpool, it was between me and Mignolet at the time.
“At Stoke I was still under contract for three or four years so they wanted too much money and Mignolet was only a year old and he was a bargain for them, it was close.”
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