JAMES Beattie turned down opportunities to play Championship football in favour of a completing an emotional return to Bramall Lane, The Star can reveal.
Beattie yesterday ended weeks of speculation about his future by agreeing a short-term contract with Sheffield United nearly three years after leaving South Yorkshire in controversial circumstances.
But the former England striker, who was recently released by Glasgow Rangers, is also believed to have received approaches from at least three other clubs – including Southampton and Blackpool – before putting pen to paper at Shirecliffe last night. United’s League One rivals Bournemouth were also in the hunt.
Beattie revealed how a personal visit from manager Danny Wilson helped convince him to sign.
“The gaffer has been great,” said Beattie. “He came over to Manchester to meet me and we hit it off straight away.
“He told me about what he wanted for the club, how he sees me contributing to that and, to be honest, the meeting was fantastic.
“We only spoke about football for 10 minutes and then started discussing former players, our families and stuff like that.”
Beattie scored 34 goals in 65 appearances after United paid Everton a record £4 million to acquire his services in 2007. The decision to sell him to Stoke City midway through the 2008/09 campaign has been cited by some as a major factor behind United’s failure to reach the Premier League later that season.