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Saturday, December 08, 2007


KOTA KINABALU: Jamie Phoenix could have been a Manchester United super star. The Rhinos’ new signing was twice offered a chance to sign up with the current English Premier League champions. However, he snubbed one of the greatest teams in the world on both occasions.

In an interview with the New Sabah Times Sport, Jamie revealed that he was first offered the chance to sign for Man United when he was 10 years old while the second came seven years later.

On both occasions, Jamie said he was playing for the Manchester City Youth team. “We used to beat them (Man United Youth) in the Youth League like 4-0, 5-0. And because all my friends are at Man City, I decided to stay with the team,” he recalled, while admitting that he kind of regrets his action (now).

Jamie, 23, also revealed that he could have also signed for Liverpool, but the deal did not materialise after the Reds were not willing to pay the 600,000 pounds price tag put up by his club.

For the record, Jamie is the product of the Man City academy and also had a stint with Premier League outfit Bolton Wanderers. However, according to him, he only played for the Reserve squad as well as in a friendly for Bolton before moving to several clubs around UK including FC Manchester.

He made his first overseas stint with Vietnam outfit Dong Tap. He played for the Vietnamese Premier League side for two months before going to Oman. While he was in Oman, he was offered contracts by three top sides, but none of the deals materialised after his former agent refused to agree to terms and conditions of the said deal.

It was after the three failed attempts that made Jamie dump his agent and become a freeman that eventually saw him coming to Sabah. On his first impression of Sabah, Jamie said: “Sabah is magnificent. The people, the City, the food and the surroundings are lovely. I want to live here forever.”

On the team, he believes that they have a good squad that can win honours. “I think we have a very good side and I believe we can win the League and the two Cups (Malaysia Cup and FA Cups) … I hope. “We have a good team management and the head coach is doing great with the team. Overall, I’m really pleased to be with the team. To a question, Jamie said that he does not see much difference between football here and in the UK.

He said: “I think in the UK, the work rate is greater where all matches are very competitive. Over there, there is a lot of tackling and running, where here I think it is more relaxed. But I find that there are a lot of skillful players here that could play in UK.”

Jamie also said that he likes to run for the ball while playing, hinting that he is also good at certain things on the field. “I do have a certain specialty, but I’m not going to show it off unless we already winning by a big margin. I don’t want the team to suffer because of my fancy skills.”

Overall, Jamie will certainly be the man to watch for the new season at least as far as Sabah is concerned.

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