A solo trip to Paris for a meeting with the owner of Adidas: How former Sheffield Wednesday boss Trevor Francis signed Chris Waddle
Former Sheffield Wednesday manager Trevor Francis has described how he travelled alone to Paris to bring Owls legend Chris Waddle to the club, describing the £1 million fee as ‘the best ever spent by the club’.
The 65-year-old, who took over the role from Ron Atkinson in a player-manager capacity in 1991, managed the Owls until 1995 and secured a third-place finish in his second season at the club.
His is an era best remembered for a swash-buckling style of play – with Waddle central to it – and many believe him to have unfairly sacked after a season of transition.
And it is that shock signing, from French giants Marseille in July 1992, that was bizarrely conducted in a secluded office in Paris with the later disgraced politician, singer, actor and owner of Adidas, Bernard Tapie.
“How things have changed,” he told The Football Ramble. “I flew over to Paris by myself to have a meeting in an office where I was given the address and it was one to one.
“The guy I was talking with was the president of Marseille football club Bernard Tapie, who was very famous at the time.
“I conducted the negotiations, I got Chris in for a million and it is the best million that Sheffield Wednesday has ever spent.
“I wouldn’t have thought there was a better player in the history of that club than Chris Waddle.
“That year he should have regained his place in the England team, he didn’t, but he was named footballer of the year and rightly so, he was brilliant.”
Francis, who went on to manage Birmingham and Crystal Palace before walking away from the game in 2003, said looks fondly on one of the happiest times of his distinguished career.
“I loved my time there,” he said. “It’s a big club, Sheffield Wednesday. Very, very passionate they are about their football and Wednesday are a big, big club.
“It’s sad to see so many of my former clubs in the Championship; QPR, Birmingham, Nottingham Forest. I want them all back in the Premier League.”