Paul Ifill says Neil Warnock dropped him for the Sheffield derby because of a dream the manager’s wife had.
Ifill spent 18 months at Bramall Lane after signing from Millwall in the summer of 2005 for a fee rising to £1m (BBC).
The winger played a key role in the Blades’ promotion to the Premier League that first season, making 39 Championship appearances and scoring nine goals.
Yet for the first Steel City derby of the campaign with Sheffield Wednesday, Ifill was named on the bench. Which was particularly frustrating because of the reason Warnock – who was boss at the time – gave.
“I’m driving to the game with my wife and the phone goes,” the 40-year-old told Full Core Football 24. “It’s Tony Daley, the fitness coach. He says; ‘The gaffer wants to see you in his office’. I put the phone down and turn to my missus and say; ‘I’m being dropped’.
“I go into the gaffer’s office. I sit down. He says; ‘You’re never going to believe this. My wife had a dream last night, so I’m going to have to drop you’.
“I’m like; ‘What?’ He says; ‘I’m going to have to drop you, I’m playing Quinny (Alan Quinn)’
“I didn’t understand it. I’d played every game up until this point, I’d played well. I was having a good season, scoring goals, assisting goals. Quinny had been in and out of the team.”
What happened next for Paul Ifill?
Ifill says while he was baffled with the decision, he decided to wait until the Monday to raise it with Warnock. That conversation never happened as Quinn netted the winner in a 1-0 victory – becoming the first player in history to score for both teams in the derby.
United would go onto finish second that term and return to the top flight for the first time since 1994. Ifill now admits that he felt like he had made it at that point, rather that setting himself new targets.
The former Barbados international started the first three home matches, but wasn’t even included in the squad for away games. Ifill complained to assistant Stuart McCall, who passed it on to Warnock.
The attacker wouldn’t play for the club again and was sold to Crystal Palace in the January. Warnock did eventually explain to Ifill that his work ethic didn’t fit the team and he was considered a luxury player.
Since leaving Palace in 2009, he has since played and coached in New Zealand.