'It was disbelief' - Wayne Quinn on the day that cost Sheffield United promotion in 1997/98

Former Sheffield United left-back, Wayne Quinn, has spoken about the decision which he thinks cost the club promotion in 1997/98.

Having made a strong start to the season, Quinn says the players were left shocked in the January transfer window.

On an infamous day that fans still talk about now 23 years on, both Brian Deane and Jan Aage Fjortoft left the club.

Losing both first choice strikers on the same day shocked supporters, but it seems the players were just as bemused.

“It was disbelief,” Quinn told The Sheff United Way podcast.

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“You maybe accept one striker being sold. Maybe. But two strikers, I don’t see where the club were going with that. As players, it kind of knocks you back a bit.

“At the time, you were talking about the two best strikers in the First Division (Championship) and they both went on the same day.

“Jan just scored goals for fun and Deano was an unbelievable player who caused mayhem in and around the box. It was hard to negotiate the weeks after that because they were massive players for us.”

Wayne Quinn thinks it cost United promotion

Credit: Laurence Griffiths /Allsport

Having re-joined the Blades from Leeds United in a £1m deal the previous summer, Deane left for Benfica for the same fee just six months later.

It was reported at the time that chief executive, Charles Green, was honouring a promise to the forward to inform him of interest from European teams.

Such was Deane’s influence, he still finished as the Blades’ top scorer that campaign despite leaving halfway through it.

As for Fjortoft, he made the switch to Premier League side Barnsley for £800,000.

The Norwegian has since spoken about how he was told by Green that he would be sold.

It left the club with only Dean Saunders and Gareth Taylor as recognised strikers. As a result, their promotion push faltered and despite still reaching the playoffs that term, they were beaten by Sunderland in the semi-finals.

It would be eight more years before the Blades finally returned to the top flight under Neil Warnock.

But Quinn thinks they would have achieved it that campaign had Deane and Fjortoft not been sold.

“I know football clubs are a business, I get all that,” he continued. “But you have to put things into perspective. For what they got for Deano, for what they got for Jan – they couldn’t have waited five months? Wait to the end of the season.

“If we were bottom of the league and struggling, then fair enough. But we weren’t. We were competing on every level. I think we’d have won it.

“It doesn’t make sense. If we’d gone up, then imagine the windfall going into the Premier League. It’s just bad, bad, bad politics.

“It could have been a whole lot different that season.”

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