Mark Kinsella recalls his rollercoaster transfer to Charlton

Speaking to Team 33, ex-Ireland man recalls how the deal seemed to slip away before one last minute phonecall

BY Raf Diallo 15:43 Wednesday 15 March 2017, 15:43 15 Mar 2017

Charlton Athletic captain Mark Kinsella (l) celebrates winning the First Division Championship with Chris Powell (r). Picture by Nick Potts EMPICS Sport

When ex-Ireland midfielder Mark Kinsella left Colchester United in 1996, it was the start of a beginning of an adventure at Charlton Athletic. 

It was a leap up from Division Three level all the way to the cusp of Premier League football under the management of then Charlton boss Alan Curbishley.

But getting to Chartlon in the summer of 1996 turned out to be more complicated than Kinsella had envisaged, with Gillingham entering the frame.

The 2002 World Cup starter recalled the move and the crazy Playoff final against Sunderland on this week's Team 33 - the first of a two part interview.

"After seven years [at Colchester], I decided I'd get an agent and I got on the phone to him on a Monday and [long time Chartlon assistant manager] Keith Peacock rings me on a Wednesday and says 'do you fancy coming down pre-season and doing a couple of weeks training. So I said, 'Yeah, I don't mind that," Kinsella began. 

You can listen to the full interview with Mark on the podcast player below or on iTunes. The first part includes his childhood, moving to Colchester in 1989 and his Ireland career up to just before the 2002 World Cup. Next Tuesday, we'll be putting out Part 2 which includes the World Cup, Aston Villa and the ups and downs of going into coaching.

Kinsella spent three weeks of the 1996-97 pre-season training with Charlton, who he would later go on to captain in a short space of time.

"I played in two games and scored in both games," said the Dubliner of that pre-season stay.

"I sat down with Curbs, delighted with everything and he said 'we want to sign you.'"

It all seemed to be going in a pretty straight forward fashion, with the particulars of a deal seemingly in place.

"By the time I got the two and half hours to back home, it was off," said Kinsella.

When Alex Ferguson came to Dublin in a quest to sign Mark Kinsella

"I got a phonecall from Curbs and he said, 'Listen, a deal can't be done. Colchester want all the money [up front]'. It was £150,000. 'Colchester wanted it all and now we can't do it.'

"What happened then was that they had sold Lee Bowyer to Leeds for £2.75 million so then Colchester thought, 'well, you can give us £150,000' and Charlton said they hadn't got it because they were paying debts etc and can only do £25,000 every four months or so. The deal was off and I had to go back to [Colchester], having not trained with the lads for three weeks."

That's where Gillingham came into the picture and ended up reigning the Charlton deal, with the 1996-97 season already underway. 

Current West Brom boss Tony Pulis was Gillingham manager at the time and had an interest in signing Kinsella.

"The gaffer got a phonecall and said, 'Gillingham want to speak to you' and I said 'OK'. So I drove down to Gillingham with my agent and Charlton's chairman and Gillingham's vice-chairman was at some meeting in London. 

"So Tony showed me around and I had a chat with him. My agent just said to Tony, 'Can we make one phonecall? Just one phonecall and then we'll sign the paper.'

"My agent rang the chairman up at Charlton and said, 'Listen, he's going to sign for Gillingham in the next 20 minutes' and [the chairman] said, 'Forget about it, just drive down the M2 and we'll sign you'.

"That was it. I went to Tony and said, 'Listen, thanks very much, much appreciated'. He wished me all the best. He was grand. I hadn't signed anything."   

And ultimately, moving to Charlton actually meant a salary reduction in comparison to what had been on offer elsewhere.

Kinsella would go on to earn promotion to the Premier League after a dramatic penalty shootout win over Sunderland in a playoff. During the full interview, the former Ireland player shared the details of the day from the issue of sorting out tickets, the match itself and the tension of taking a penalty that was worth millions to Charlton.

The Alan Curbishley interview we referenced in the chat with Mark can be found right here:

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