Former Liverpool midfielder opens up on accidentally triggering bid that left boss fuming
The former midfielder signed at Anfield in 1995 from Bolton for £4.5m – but a deal with Blackburn was consequently hijacked.
McAteer was in talks with Rovers boss and Liverpool legend Dalglish over a double move for him and Bolton team-mate Alan Stubbs.
Having just secured promotion with the Trotters, McAteer was in demand, but the Reds had not yet made a move.
However, the ex-Republic of Ireland international has now exposed how his own naivety had Dalglish raging.
In his autobiography Blood, Sweat and Jason McAteer: A Footballers’ Story, serialised by the Liverpool Echo, the 45-year-old said when in the room with Dalglish: “A phone rings and brings me back to reality.
“Ian (his agent) says he has to take this call and leaves the room. Ian comes back into the room. He drops another bombshell.
“Bolton have just accepted a four-and-a-half million pounds bid from Liverpool for me. Just me. Not Stubbsy.
“He looks Kenny in the eye and tells him he has to talk to Liverpool on my behalf. He doesn’t even ask me. He says he has to suspend these talks and he’ll get back to Kenny when he knows what Liverpool are offering.”
On Dalglish’s reaction, McAteer added: “I barely notice as Kenny starts to fume. Without blinking an eye, he tells Ian that the deal is off if he talks to Liverpool. Not just for me but for Alan as well.
“Ian argues with the King. Kenny relents just enough to give us five minutes outside to talk about it and break the news to Alan. But he is not budging on his offer and the terms. If we talk to Liverpool, any Blackburn deal is dead in the water.”
When McAteer had to break the news to Dalglish about choosing dream aside Liverpool, he said: “The Scottish accent is getting thicker by the minute as Kenny’s blood boils. The offer from Blackburn is withdrawn.”
But the Blackburn manager, whose side had just won the Premier League title, was left perplexed by Liverpool’s awareness of their pursuit in McAteer.
And the ex-Premier League star admitted: “It’s mostly my fault – and Sammy Lee’s. We stayed close since he used to drive me to training at Bolton, and he’s working for Liverpool now.
“Sammy asked me keep Liverpool in the loop if anything ever developed.
“That’s how Liverpool found out. I thought I was just passing on a bit of news to Sammy, I didn’t think it would trigger a bid from Liverpool!”
McAteer eventually went on to join Blackburn in 1999 but rejecting his childhood icon Dalglish was difficult at the time he confessed.
At Liverpool though he was a success, making 139 appearances in four years on Merseyside.