Leeds ‘tried to sign Jorge Cadete from Celtic for £9m’

Jorge Cadete celebrates a goal for Celtic. Picture: TSPL
Jorge Cadete celebrates a goal for Celtic. Picture: TSPL
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Former Celtic striker Jorge Cadete has revealed how Leeds United tried to sign him from Celtic in 1996.

Speaking to the media in Portugal, Cadete claimed that Elland Road scouts were running the rule over one of his team-mates when they changed their mind.

Jorge Cadete scores for Celtic in a 3-1 win over Hibs at Easter Road, despite the best efforts of Darren Dods and Jim Leighton. Picture: TSPL

Jorge Cadete scores for Celtic in a 3-1 win over Hibs at Easter Road, despite the best efforts of Darren Dods and Jim Leighton. Picture: TSPL

Cadete, now 49, told Atasca do Cherba: “It was at a time when Leeds United came to see [Dutch striker] Pierre van Hooijdonk, but after seeing two games they wanted to sign me.

“They went so far as to offer Celtic £9 million in 1996, and [Celtic] did not want to sell.”

Cadete, who also played for Sporting CP, Celta Vigo, Benfica and, latterly, Partick Thistle, was the Scottish Premier League’s top scorer for the 1996/97 season, amassing 25 league goals and 38 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions.

His time at Celtic ended on a sour note with Cadete, van Hooijdonk and Paolo Di Canio branded the ‘Three Amigos’ by Fergus McCann amid arguments over money.

According to a report in The Scotsman in May 2001, Cadete had alleged he was owed money after signing from Sporting, while van Hoiijdonk had stirred up a protracted argument with the club over a supposed verbal promise made to him about money.

In the interview with Atasco do Cherba, Cadete opened up about his time at Celtic and the time it took to finalise his registration.

Despite being introduced to Celtic fans on 24 February 1996, lengthy discussions between Celtic and Sporting coupled with registration issues meant his transfer wasn’t completed until April, and turned out to be highly controversial.

Scottish FA chief Jim Farry was found to have deliberately delayed Cadete’s registration, incurring the wrath of McCann, and leading to a probe that resulted in Farry’s suspension and subsequent exit from the governing body.

Cadete finally made his debut against Aberdeen at Celtic Park on 1 April, scoring the fifth goal in a 5-0 win.

Looking back at his time in Scotland, the striker recalled: “There were six league games left. Everyone said I wouldn’t make the Euro 96 squad, but I always believed I would. So in those six games I played 245 minutes and scored five goals. And I ws called up for Euro 96. I didn’t play much, but I was called up. The following year, I played 41 games for Celtic and scored 33 goals without penalties - I was the top scorer in the UK, ahead of Alan Shearer.”

Cadete also spoke of his pride at being the first Portuguese player to be top scorer in an overseas league.

“There is one thing that no one can ever erase,” he said. “I was the first Portuguese player to be the top scorer in a foreign league. It may take thousands and thousands of years but when they go looking for the first Portuguese to be the top scorer abroad: Jorge Cadete.”

Cadete also revealed that he had been backing Moussa Dembele to break another record held by the Portuguese forward.

He continued: “[Dembele] had 32 goals and there were 12 games left in the season. I felt with 12 games remaining [Dembele] would probably reach 45 goals.

“He failed to beat the record because he got injured in the next game and when he recovered he didn’t score any goals. Pierre van Hooijdonk scored 32 goals in his first full season. Henrik Larsson scored just 18 in his first season in over 40 games. The record is still mine after 22 years.”