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Ex-Newcastle chief scout Woods: Xabi deal was close

Former Newcastle United chief scout Charlie Woods has recalled how close they came to landing Xabi Alonso.

Xabi went on to become one of the greatest midfielders of his generation after joining Liverpool from Real Sociedad in 2004.

"I had been to San Sebastian to watch Real Sociedad against Barcelona and I saw this boy a couple of times," Woods, 77, told ChronicleLive. "Ronnie Rosenthal was the agent and he took me out to see the game. Not to see Xabi Alonso in particular; he just wanted me to come out and see Real Sociedad.

"I sat with the sporting director of Real Sociedad that night and I said, 'Look, I'll be back in touch'. I went back to Bobby and said, 'What a player this lad is.' We could have got him for a decent fee but we didn't act on it. For some reason, they didn't go through with it.

"He then goes and signs for Liverpool. Whether it was the chairman, Freddy Shepherd, didn't like the idea of another foreigner, I don't know. We didn't sign him. What a miss that was."

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Paul Vegas

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